Hellbent (Orphan X #3) Review
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In his first two adventures, author Gregg Hurwitz’s hero, Evan Smoak, the rogue government agent also known as Orphan X, has taken on a number of deadly missions, helping those who can’t help themselves while avoiding capture by those tasked with tying up loose ends in the Orphan program. But now, in the third installment, Hellbent, things get personal.

The story catches up with Evan as he gets an unexpected call from Jack Johns, the man who took him out of foster care as a kid and raised him to be a shadowy government assassin. Jack is the closest thing to a father that Evan has ever known—and after he’s forced to witness Jack’s death, Evan becomes set on revenge. But his revenge will have to wait—because Jack’s final assignment puts Evan in charge of protecting one of the program’s final recruits: a sixteen-year-old girl named Joey.

In earlier installments in the series, Evan has always struggled with relationships—and he’s always been haunted by his past. He’s attempted to come to grips with the path he’s taken. While other people have friends and families and messy lives, Evan’s life is neat and orderly and entirely solitary. He’s a shadowy character who lives in a pristine fortress—and he never questioned that until he met single mom Mia, who lives a few floors below him (and a world away) with her adorable son.

This time, however, it’s not really about Mia. It’s about Evan’s uncommon relationship with Jack. It’s about his unexpected relationship with Joey. But while that gives the story (and the character) plenty of humanity, that’s not to say that Hellbent is a drama about a guy who used to kill people for the government discovering the feelings that he never knew he had. On the contrary, it’s an action-packed thriller about a guy who truly cares about people—and whose feelings cause him to fight bad guys with even more fervor. Evan is always on edge, planning his next move while protecting himself (and now Joey, too) from constant attacks by a rival who’s determined to kill them both. And it’s that mix of drama and nail-biting action that makes Hellbent more than just another brainless adventure.

If you enjoy action and suspense but need a little bit of depth, too, you won’t want to miss the Orphan X series. Hellbent can easily stand on its own—but, to get the full effect of the character and his story, you’ll want to start from the beginning, with 2006’s Orphan X.

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