The Hit by Melvin Burgess.

Image301 pages

Published April 4th by Chicken House Books

The premise is this: there’s a new drug out. Death. You take it and live for one amazing week – then you die. Forever.

The book opens with Adam and his girlfriend Lizzie attending a concert. Singer Jimmy Earle is rumoured to have taken the drug, and this is the gig where he will die if the rumours are true. After an amazing show, Jimmy keels over, dead. The crowd is shocked and a little wary. When an announcement is made that Jimmy isn’t dead, and an obvious look-alike is sent out on stage, everyone goes crazy. Thousands of fans take to the streets – rioting and looting and vandalising. Up until this point, the setting of The Hit could be now, here (although I can’t imagine many people actually taking Death in our world). But it soon becomes apparent that this is either the future or some alternate timeline. There is a clear division of the classes – rich and poor – and the government sucks, basically. Also, there are Zealots – ‘a half madcap protest group, half armed rebels’ – hardcore protesters who stir up trouble and fight for the people. Members of the group often act as suicide bombers or set themselves on fire and jump off buildings just because they can.

Adam is poor. Lizzie is rich. He lives with his parents and quiet, hardworking brother, Jess. His future is panned out for him: he will work to support his family. There is another option: impregnate Lizzie and use her as his ticket out. Adam tells himself that he will never do it.

Certain events lead Adam down an ugly path. He chooses to take Death. So begins his last remaining week: a time to run through his bucket list, do stuff he’s always wanted to do and hopefully end his life feeling fulfilled or whatever. Unfortunately, things take a dark turn. The Zealots have led the people to the edge, and it’s all about to go down.

The Hit is quite a heavy read. I struggled with the idea that a drug that gave you the ultimate week long high and then killed you would ever become popular. But I guess the world is supposed to be a horrible, extremist place in the book. So I understand why, but I still don’t really believe it – if you know what I mean.

I’ve never read any of Melvin Burgess’ other books, but this doesn’t exactly inspire me to read any more, either. I wouldn’t say I disliked it, but nor did I love it. If you like gritty young adult books, then maybe try this. If not, give it a miss.

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