Date Finished: January 7th 2019
Time taken to read: 147 days
Rating: 1.5 stars
I received a free e-ARC of Killer T on NetGalley from the publisher (Hot Key Books) in exchange for an honest review of the story. Killer T is now available for purchase.
Deion Powell was king of high school.
(Let me start of by saying Deion Powell is an incredibly tiny part of this plot, despite getting the first line in the story). Killer T tells the story of Harry, a British teenager, newly moved to Las Vegas with his Aunt to further her culinary career. Keen to follow in the steps of his late mother as a journalist, Harry finds himself intertwined with the complicated existence of Charlie. A skilled explosive manufacturer with a complicated home life, and the potential skills to keep them both alive when a genetic mutation threatens to wipe out life as we know it. Killer T follows them both from the outbreak of an unprecedented mutant virus attack on the globe, through the challenging years that follow.
I want to start off by expressing that I requested this title as it should have been something I would really like, if not love. A YA dystopian (/speculative fiction) genre story with a focus on genetics and gene editing (an area I have some background through my degree studies). This was pitched as something that ticks a lot of my preference boxes. However unfortunately I really struggled with this story, and had assumed I wouldn’t ever finish it after putting it down about 75% of the way through. I am not sure why, but at the beginning of this year I had a sudden determination to finish it off. (I don’t necessarily DNF books, I just take multiple month/or multi-year breaks in the middle). And the fact I did ultimately return to the novel is one of the reasons I did not rate this even lower than I already have. But I really, really did not like story I am sorry to say.
There was a lot of potential, but ultimately it fell down for me in that I didn’t really care for the main characters, which meant my foundations for investing in their story was not there as the majority of this story was focused on the two leads. I struggled with the believability of their early relationship and the almost insta-love style infatuation that led one character to commit criminal activities due to being so besotted by the other. The start of the story felt really long, and I was honestly surprised to find out that this story was note several hundred pages longer because the pacing seemed slow early on. However, it did start to pick up later and I was starting to take some interest in the turn of plot.
However, then the problem became that a number of times we would suddenly jump approximately 2 years in the future. And it felt as though this would happen every time I felt I was starting to get a grip on the characters or a particularly plot point at the given stage in their life. Whenever I started to feel more invested – time jump. Some of the placements of these leaps also did not seem to make sense to me in relation to the story.
In some cases, the time jumps worked, both Harry and Charlie each had one time period that I really began to either warm to the character or take genuine interest in their particular plot at that time. But I think given that the characters changed a lot in some of the breaks, it was frustrating when I thought it might be picking up to be faced with a complete new iteration of Harry or Charlie than the one I had just been getting interested in. Some of the background characters that were introduced were interesting, I enjoyed Steve and Mango when they came into the story and their guiding influences. (Mango may be the only character in the book that I would genuinely consider reading more about if further stories within this world were coming out). I really hated the character of Brad, and not in the way where you enjoy disliking a character – I genuinely felt uncomfortable with his character (which may have been the intention but I wasn’t clear) and also some of the writing around Charlie in that time period of the book.
I think if there had been more of a focus on some of the later elements of the book (with maybe flashbacks to their younger years), I may have enjoyed the story more. Perhaps because it was dystopian than the earlier portion of the book. The actual science and discussion around gene editing and the genetic modifications described were also more engaging portions whilst I was reading.
I did find some elements of this story strange for a Young Adult audience, there seemed a lot of violence, and the maturity of the characters later in the book I think may have played to a more mature end of the target audience. This story has made me curious to try something else by the author at a later time, as I feel that is may just be this particular story that I ultimately did not like. But at the same time, this definitely was not a great introduction for to their work.
TLDR: Glitched plot writing sends this story periodically hurtling forward several years, leaving the plot and reader confused and a bit disjointed as the world crumbles due to mutated viruses.