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.
The five things I almost always think (in chronological order) after reading or even just seeing the blurb of a Melvin Burgess book are:
- That was controversial.
- Dang, how does he come up with this stuff?
- I want more.
Sadly, I didn’t feel that way as much about THE HIT.
There were too many things I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy about it. While I can definitely see Burgess’s writing style in the story, I couldn’t feel anything for Adam and Lizzie. There wasn’t any of the emotion that made his other stories so powerful. While I was more interested in this story than I had been for JUNK initially, and I thought that the beginning of THE HIT was pretty engaging, all the rush that comes with reading Burgess eventually began to dwindle away and the reality of the matter came to me that Adam wasn’t making any sense.
A lot of plot events in THE HIT didn’t make sense to me. Things were all right in the beginning. The concept was intriguing and the start really impressed me, the way that Burgess decided to go about showing the reader the drug Death and it’s evolution. Especially with the crazy role models like Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber teens today have to look up to in the media, it made THE HIT more powerful realizing how Death could become a new reality–and that was why the beginning of THE HIT, in which a superstar celebrity commits suicide during his biggest concert using Death, hit me so hard. But there other things that just didn’t add up for me.
The motivations, the personalities, everything about the characters–especially Adam–fell flat for me. He was superficial and uninteresting. There was nothing especially shocking or amazing about him except for how annoying and selfish he was, and his reasons for doing things didn’t really make sense to me. It felt like the plot wasn’t really planned out, just there to provide the initial shock appeal, something that didn’t really last long. Not only that, but the secrets were poorly kept and not really secrets considering the fact that they were blatantly obvious.
Overall, I was disappointed with this read. If you haven’t read Melvin Burgess before, I highly recommend his other books–especially JUNK if you’re interested in this one–but there were too many things I didn’t enjoy about THE HIT. I did think that the concept was interesting and that the bad guys were done well, but the main characters and the plot fell short for me. There was a lot of violence in this story and even though Death could’ve shone in this book with it’s concept, sort of like a Burgess-style cautionary tale, it took a back seat near the middle of the story. Definitely not Burgess’s best work, but I’ve read much worse books. 1.5 stars.
pg count for the paperback: 303
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