"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.