I’ve read a lot of Robert Muchamore’s Cherub books and always enjoyed them. His realistic teens in spy situations have been flawed and human, make mistakes, but always have you rooting for them to succeed in the end – especially against Mr Large, that dick. Although Muchamore has written other non-Cherub books, this is the first that I have read. Focusing on a near-future where gene editing technology has become rife, it promised to be an interesting and engrossing book.
I received a copy of this book on NetGalley from the publisher.
Our world is about to change in ways we can barely imagine. KILLER T is a novel about growing up in that world.
Harry and Charlie are teenagers whose lives are shaped by a society that’s shifting around them. He is a lonely Brit in his first term at a Las Vegas high school. She is an unlikely friend, who gets accused of mixing a batch of explosives that blew up a football player.
The two of them are drawn together at a time when gene editing technology is starting to explode. With a lab in the garage anyone can beat cancer, enhance their brain to pass exams, or tweak a few genes for that year-round tan and perfect beach body. But in the wrong hands, cheap gene editing is the most deadly weapon in history. Killer T is a synthetic virus with a ninety per-cent mortality rate, and the terrorists who created it want a billion dollars before they’ll release a vaccine.
Terrifying. Romantic. Huge in scope. A story for our times.
There’s no doubt that this book was compelling. I started reading it one evening and stayed up far past my bedtime, turning pages incessantly, desperate to find out what happened next. I eventually had to give up as my eyes started to close by themselves, and spent the next day at work itching to get back to reading. Charlie, the female lead, is a great character. The world seems stacked against her, and you can see how easily she gets sucked into a life of scrappy criminality, because there didn’t really seem to be any other options open to her. But Harry was less likeable, and therefore less enjoyable to read about.
The book is broad in scope, told in six parts, with time skips between six months and three years between sections, meaning the time between the first pages of the book and the final pages is more than a decade. It was quite disconcerting to have such a choppy interaction with the two main characters, and I felt like it negatively affected the reader’s connection with them. Relationships were developed and broken off-page, and therefore my support for those relationships was lacking.
While the story was very interesting, the broad scope and development of gene editing technology meant that time skips were necessary, but that led to a lack of actual human connection with the characters. As well as that, with Harry being a pretty unlikeable character from midway through the book, I never really warmed to him enough to let his entitled, jerkish reaction to mid-plot events slide, or forgive him for it in the end.
The last thing which really bothered me was the use of language in the book. The words handicapped and retarded were scattered through the book without any acknowledgement that they’re outdated and no longer acceptable in modern usage. For a book which was meant to be set in the near future, with a secondary character with disabilities, I was really surprised at this, and found it quite jarring.
Overall, this lacked the charm of Cherub for me, but was certainly a demonstration of Muchamore’s ability to write a plot that sucks you in and refuses to let go.
Killer T will be published in September 2018 by Hot Key Books