The Hit

Melvin Burgess. Scholastic/Chicken House, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-545-55699-6
Burgess (Smack) returns with a boundary-pushing thriller that all-too-believably builds on contemporary threads including income inequality, the Occupy movement, and a YOLO mentality. On the night he attends rocker Jimmy Earle's final concert, Adam knows that his life has changed. Earle's on-stage demise—supposedly from Death, an expensive drug that provides the consummate one-week high followed by death—has awakened a riotous fervor in depressed Manchester, England, which may mark the beginning of a larger revolution. The high of Adam's night out with his girlfriend, Lizzie, comes crashing down when Adam's older brother, Jess, is reported dead. Suddenly, taking Death means a way out. Burgess's prose is straightforward and fast-paced, and his third-person narration hopscotches from character to character while giving readers clear insight into the motives that drive them. His plot swerves are unexpected but well-maneuvered, and his characters' flaws and self-absorptions make them complex and real. Amid violent action, existential anguish, and the heightened appreciation for life that death can bring, Burgess has created a premise that readers will find hard to forget. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/23/2013
Release date: 02/25/2014
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