The Hit

( 1 )

Overview


Live the ultimate high. Pay the ultimate price. The shocking return to YA by the author of SMACK.

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, ...

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The Hit

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Overview


Live the ultimate high. Pay the ultimate price. The shocking return to YA by the author of SMACK.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 12/23/2013
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.)
From the Publisher

"One of the few entirely essential authors in the world of young-adult fiction...THE HIT has many of the elements that make Burgess such a compelling writer. The sex, drugs, and rock n' roll are all there, and that distinctive Burgess prose -- swaggering, intense, and exciting -- thrums through it all." -- Anthony McGowan

"A writer of the highest quality with exceptional powers of insight." -- THE LONDON TIMES

Booklist Starred Review
Burgess’ dystopian novel posits a near-future world in which the gap between rich and poor has grown to an unbridgeable chasm. In their despair, many have-nots are taking a new drug called Death that offers seven days of euphoric bliss followed by the oblivion of death. Adam, 17, is one of these. His hopes for an education are dashed, his brother is missing and presumed dead, and he’s been dumped by his girlfriend, Lizzie. Seeing nothing but a bleak future, he impulsively takes the pill, but as his own options are precluded, enormous changes are underway. Led by a group called the Zealots, society is teetering on the brink of revolution. Meanwhile, a drug lord and his psychopathic son enter Adam and Lizzie’s lives to potentially catastrophic effect. Will Lizzie survive? Will Adam die or is it possible that there might be an antidote to Death after all? Burgess, a master of YA literature, has written a novel of white-knuckle suspense that has considerable violence and ambitious philosophical underpinnings. How does one deal with socioeconomic inequity? Is revolution a viable strategy? Is death? If this ambitious novel has flaws, it may be a lack of attention to these very questions. In addition, the villains—though terrifying—are over the top. But all that said, the novel is viscerally exciting and emotionally engaging. Best of all, it is sure to excite both thoughtful analysis and heated discussion among its readers. A clear winner from Burgess.

Publishers Weekly Starred Review
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.

VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Kimberly Bower
Adam has a life no one dreams of: horrible grades, dead-end job, platonic girlfriend, poor family, and missing brother—all in the midst of a city in chaos. When Adam’s brother, Jess, scores two tickets to the Jimmy Earle concert, Lizzie jumps at the chance to go with him. Publicity has it that this will be the concert of all concerts: Jimmy Earle is going to end his life in front of everyone there. Party drugs are all the rage but Jimmy Earle has taken the ultimate drug, Death. It promises one week of the ultimate high followed immediately by death. If someone is considering Death, that person should make a bucket list (a short one); he will want to take full advantage of his last week on Earth. With all the foresight of a distraught, reckless teenager, Adam downs Death before Lizzie can stop him. Hang on, everyone; it is one unbelievable week-long ride. Burgess hits a homerun with The Hit. He confronts the deep and shadowy issues lurking in the minds of disillusioned teens in a setting that will garner wide appeal. In this dystopian world, fame, concerts, and party drugs are the answers to personal failures, dysfunctional families, and social unrest. The action is fast-paced, the drama realistic, and the message unmistakable. When your world crumbles, you can take the easy way out or latch onto and fight for things that really matter. Reviewer: Kimberly Bower; Ages 15 to 18.
Children's Literature - Susan R. Shaffner
The Hit is a depressing, brutal book. Set in a dystopian Manchester, England, “Death,” a drug that will amplify your senses and kill you in exactly one week, is the newest thrill, and there is no antidote. If you knew that everything you did was for the last time, wouldn’t it be more meaningful? Live hard, die young and leave a handsome corpse, right? Seventeen-year-old Adam takes a hit of Death, then sets out to complete his bucket list. Having sex with his girlfriend Lizzie is disappointing. Making money to leave for his parents results in a brutal murder. He drives a Porsche to escape from a hit man. Adam begins to regret taking Death and hears there may be an antidote. He finds hope by sleeping with a stranger, who is really his dead brother’s friend, but the antidote plan falls through when he needs to rescue his girlfriend from a drug dealer. The good news is the bad guys die in the end and the Death hit that Adam took was fake so he will live. The bad news is, who cares? The characters are flat and unlikable; not recommended. Reviewer: Susan R. Shaffner; Ages 14 up.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-27
After 20 years of economic recession, the gaps between England's rich and poor are wider and starker than ever. Young lovers Lizzie and Adam are keenly aware of the challenges they face: She's been raised in a bubble of privilege, while he's from a family barely scraping by due to his father's disability. Against this backdrop of economic and social inequity, the hot new recreational drug is Death, which gives its users one extraordinary last week of life, followed by, well, death. Adam and Lizzie are curious, but they steer clear of Death until Adam's brother, Jess, who's been keeping their family afloat financially as a chemist, is suddenly revealed to be a member of the revolutionary political group the Zealots (akin to the hacker group Anonymous, if they resorted to self-immolation and suicide bombings). Shattered by the news of his brother's secret life and presumed death, Adam attends a disastrous party with Lizzie, steals a stash of Death and in a reckless moment of grief, takes the drug. From there, the plot--jam-packed with ill-advised escapades, secret identities, fights and chases--threatens to spiral out of control, but in spite of some Grand Guignol violence administered by grotesque villains just this side of Carl Hiaasen, Burgess' surprisingly gritty hero and heroine are able to enjoy some muted hopefulness for their pains. Refreshingly rooted in the issues of the day, Burgess' near-future thriller stands out. (Dystopian thriller. 15-18)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545556996
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/25/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 343,693
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Lexile: HL610L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


MELVIN BURGESS is the recipient of both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children's Fiction Award for his controversial bestseller JUNK (SMACK in the US). He is the author of more than twenty books for young readers, including DOING IT, BLOODTIDE, SARA'S FACE, and KILL ALL ENEMIES. Visit his website http://melvinburgess.net and follow him on Twitter @MelvinBurgess.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 5, 2014

    In Adam¿s opinion, his life couldn¿t get much worse. He¿s living

    In Adam’s opinion, his life couldn’t get much worse. He’s living in poverty, his girlfriend can’t decide how she feels about him, and his brother has gone missing. Plus drug dealers and terrorists called the Zealots fight for control of Manchester as the city speeds towards revolution. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a brand new drug on the street: Death. Down one pill and live the most amazing week of your life. The catch? You die at the end of the week. Adam doesn’t know if one great week would make up for a dead-end life. But after taking a Death pill, he’s going to find out.

    The premise of this book, specifically the Death pill, was really interesting to me. I still haven’t decided how I would react to a drug like that or how I would spend my week if I’d taken one. Add to that the ethical questions that could come from who have access to such a drug and should it even exist, and the topic promises to ignite debate. It’s a great hook to get readers to pick up the book.

    Unfortunately, that was the only part of the book that I enjoyed. The biggest problem I had with The Hit was that the story of the main characters became overshadowed by the message that the book attempted to get across. I understand that encouraging the youth to take ownership of their country and government is an important message, but I would have liked to have seen that play more of a role in the primary plot. Maybe have Adam spend more time reflecting on the things that he won’t get to do because he took Death rather than include passages where characters kept promoting the importance of rising up against the government.

    The second major issue I had with the book falls more into the category of personal preference. The story was told through a third person narration that never got too close to any of the characters. I typically read novels with first or close third person narrators, and I believe that I get a better connection with the characters when I can be close to their emotions. I never felt like I got all that close to Adam or any of the main characters because the narration always seemed to pull away just as the emotions were about to become intense.

    This book wasn’t right for me, but it might work well for someone else who’s really interested in modern revolutions against the government. Just as a side note, it’s technically a Young Adult book.

    Rating: 2/5

    The Hit by Melvin Burgess will be published by Chicken House on February 25, 2014 and will be available as a hardcover.

    *I received an advanced copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.

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