The Hit by Melvin Burgess
(Available February 25)
A new drug is on the street. Everyone's buzzing about it. Take the hit. Live the most intense week of your life. Then die. It's the ultimate high at the ultimate price. Adam thinks it over. He's poor, and doesn't see that changing. Lizzie, his girlfriend, can't make up her mind about sleeping with him, so he can't get laid. His brother Jess is missing. And Manchester is in chaos, controlled by drug dealers and besieged by a group of homegrown terrorists who call themselves the Zealots. Wouldn't one amazing week be better than this endless, penniless misery? After Adam downs one of the Death pills, he's about to find out.
I was honored and excited to be able to read an ARC of The Hit. It posed an interesting question - would you rather live a long, boring life, or pack as much life as you could into a single week?
The plot moved quickly and kept me interested, while also making me wonder what would happen if Death were real. Despite a few minor worldbuilding issues (we never find out too much about how the government got so corrupt, or shown too many examples of its corruption), I was caught up in Adam and Lizzie's world. The Zealots, a group of revolutionaries, were cast as the good guys - and as good as their cause was, their use of self-immolation and suicide bombing was way too glorified. The incident that gave rise to the riots didn't really have any connection to the government and its corruption, which made it hard to believe as a cause for revolution.
The Hit had all the makings of a great book, and I probably would have given it three or four stars if it weren't for Adam himself. He's the kind of person I would try very, very hard to avoid in real life, and there were a bunch of times I'd have been happy to punch him in the face. Although Lizzie insists over and over again that he's really a sweet and kind boy, and it's just Death making him into such an ass, Adam was just as much of an ass before he took the drug. He talks about wanting Lizzie to love him so that he'll have access to her money, and even goes so far as to sabotage a condom in the hopes of getting her pregnant and tying her to him. Adam consistently expects others to fix what he's done wrong, when he won't do it himself.
As much as I hated Adam, I loved Lizzie. I have no idea what she saw in Adam, or why she continuously risked herself for him. Lizzie was a survivor, and a clever girl, and while I couldn't muster much pity for Adam, I was rooting for her the whole way.
The Hit was a roller coaster ride. The bad guys, the riots, and the Death kept it interesting and unpredictable. I was happy to discover it wasn't just a fast-paced adventure, but a story with a moral. Burgess' lesson about the value of life will stay with me far longer than anything else in this book.
Ex Libris, Veritas
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