Teen Fiction

Adam and his girlfriend Lizzie have pretty good seats to the concert that sets off a chain of events only the revolutionary Zealots could have predicted. Jimmy Earle, a rock star at the height of his career and popularity, has taken the drug Death. Jimmy has accomplished his elaborate and very public bucket list and is putting on one last concert before the best, drug-induced week of his life ends in his equally public death.

Because that’s what this new drug, Death, does. You take a little white pill, have the most fantastic week-long high, and then die. Very simple. Once the drug has bonded with your brain, there’s no going back. There’s no antidote. No cure for Death. Once you’ve taken it, you’re dead after seven days.

After Jimmy dies on stage in front of thousands of fans, the riots begin. The undercurrent of tension between the haves and the have-nots in Manchester suddenly boil to the surface. Adam and Lizzie get to watch it all unfold making Adam feel like he and Lizzie are bound together by this night. Nothing could be better.

Then Adam’s life begins to unravel. His parents get a mysterious letter from the Zealots telling them his brother, Jess, is dead. Lizzie seems disinterested and angry with him. Suddenly, Adam’s view on his life is much less positive. In a moment of self-loathing and despair, Adam decides to take Death.

Now he’s got a week left to do as much living as a teenage boy can. Like Jimmy Earle, he begins with an extraordinarily complicated and elaborate bucket list. To accomplish this list, his first task has to be to make up with Lizzie and spend his last days with her.

After he and Lizzie reconcile, they become enmeshed with a dangerous drug-dealer’s even more dangerous son. Lizzie gets kidnapped and Adam has to decide whether to use his remaining days to help her or to accomplish his bucket list.

Burgess has created a near future dystopian adventure in “The Hit.” The gap between rich and poor is so insurmountable that home-grown terrorist groups like the Zealots find strongholds with Manchester’s young people and, for some, taking Death seems like a viable option.

Adam and Lizzie deal with a lot of heavy issues in “The Hit.” Burgess does a good job of focusing on the issues his characters face without being too heavy-handed or preachy. The action scenes make you sit forward in your seat. The twists and turns the plot takes are realistic as are the characters.

Every characters’ flaws are exposed and explored to a degree that makes you wonder whether you really like these people. Ultimately, the selfishness and insecurities revealed by Adam are so uncomfortable because they are so true-to-life. Adam behaves exactly as a teenager would–he is at times self-absorbed, reckless, heroic, kind, a genius and a complete idiot.

The premise of “The Hit” is intriguing–what kind of mental process would you go through if you knew in 7 days you were going to die? Especially if the world is about to change and you realize you won’t be around to see or help the change happen. Would the self-loathing and hopelessness you felt when you first took the pill last through your 7 days or would you find a reason to regret that choice?

With sexual content, drug use, and mature themes, this is a good choice for mature teens and adults who like near-future dystopians and flawed characters wrestling with Life’s big questions.