2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Hit (Paperback)
Melvin Burgess is regarded as one of the best writers in contemporary children's literature. He is also one of the most controversial and in his latest novel The Hit he demonstrates both his skill as a writer and his willingness to make us more than a little uncomfortable when we read one of his novels.
The idea behind The Hit is in itself fascinating. The original idea for the book was formed by a group of A-level Philosophy students and their tutors before being taken forward by Chicken House publisher, Barry Cunningham. Due to the subject matter of the book, and it's somewhat unusual birth, Cunningham approached the author he knew wouldn't mind working a bit differently and who wouldn't mind dealing with the controversial idea at the centre of the book - Burgess.
Told in a dual narrative by teens Adam and Lizzie The Hit is set in a near future where Manchester is on the brink of revolt and their is talk of revolution in the air. Revolution and anarchy is being fuelled by a new drug that is flooding the streets - 'Death', a euthanasia drug that gives you the best week of your life - before killing you. Looking for an easy way out from his self proclaimed 'rubbish life' and still trying to come to terms with the death of his brother Adam succumbs to the lure of 'Death'. However despite an initial euphoric rush Adam soon realises that life may indeed be better then death.
The whole concept of 'Death' is exceptionally clever and is an amazingly powerful 'hook' into the novel. Once the reader is 'hooked' Burgess takes them on a relentless, adrenalin fuelled adventure through the streets and industrial wastelands of Manchester. As we move between Adam and Lizzie's story we see the effect their actions have on each other and the story at large. The book is full of twists and we are kept guessing right up until the final chapter about the final outcome of the book.
Burgess has created a novel which covers a number of issues relevant to teenagers today; drugs, friendship, sex, politics and of course euthanasia. He writes about these issues in a way that teenagers can relate to whilst at the same time he makes them think about the moral and philosophical impact of what happens in the book. The issue of drug taking is not glamorised in anyway in the novel and readers are left with many questions to consider about the impact of drugs on society.
Despite this there there will be some who will find this book controversial. For me Melvin Burgess should be required reading for every teenager in the UK. It's books like The Hit that can turn teenagers into readers.