Having read the previous Gregg Hurwitz Orphan X books, I bought Hellbent as soon as it came out. It is a series that I will keep reading as long as the author will keep writing it.
And judging by the way Hellbent ended, I know that we can look forward to at least one more book (if not more) to read later on.
Orphan X goes by a few other names including Evan Smoak and The Nowhere Man. Each name represents aspects of the main character.
Evan is the guy who tries to integrate into the community (even if in a superficial way for the sake of having a cover). Orphan X is Evan’s past which he tries (without much success, I might add) to leave behind. The Nowhere Man is the guy who is trying to atone for his past sins by helping strangers get out of impossible situations.
In Hellbent, we meet one more time Jack Jones, Evan’s protector, trainer and the only father he has ever known before his upcoming demise. The father who, while training him to become an Orphan, was also working hard to make sure that the boy would keep his humanity intact. Because a killer without humanity is but a machine.
Jack calls Evan to tell him that he loves him and asks for his forgiveness for everything in the past. Of course, Evan gives it to him. And then Jack has a final hidden message for Evan: retrieve the package.
While Even watches on film Jack’s last moments in life, he promises to himself to find Jack’s killer and erase him from existence.
And he knows just who that someone is: a guy from his own past from back when they were both kids in the same foster home: Van Sciver, who is now Orphan Y, leading the remaining Orphans to their deaths. Because, for some reason, Van Sciver wants the Orphan program gone for good and all the previous members – be it real members or those who weren’t good enough to pass the tests – eliminated.
When Evan retrieves the “package”, he realizes that “it” is actually a 16-year-old girl who is a “reject;” a person who was thrown out of the Orphan program because she was not strong enough to stay in. The girl then escaped, Jack Jones found her and hid her.
And now, Evan must not only protect the girl at all costs but also find the killers and stop them from eliminating any more innocent people. In addition, his Nowhere Man persona is still active and there is a new case to solve, one that involves him retrieving someone from one of the deadliest gangs around.
As usual, the pace is fast throughout the entire book. The action doesn’t let go at all. The few downtime moments were mostly spent between Evan and Joey, the girl, or Evan and his (so far failed) romantic interest, Mia, his prosecutor neighbor.
There are so many twists and turns that often at the edge of my seat. There was a moment when I burst out laughing just imagining what Evan put into motion (it involved a bar of chocolate). It was hilarious, and by god, it worked too!
I enjoyed Joey’s character. She is a rebellious teen who has been through a lot in her few years already and has learned lots in her short time in the Orphan program. She really deserves a normal life, one that she never had a chance to have before, and Evan is doing anything he can to give that to her.
It was interesting to see Evan’s luxurious apartment (which he owns under the name Evan Smoak) through Joey’s eyes. The floating bed in his bedroom, the wall herbarium, these were things you don’t normally find in most homes, even expensive ones. Actually, I might try to steal the living wall of herbs idea for myself at some point.
For anyone who loves the Orphan X series, there will be a long and sad wait until the next book is out, probably sometime next year.