The Killables by Gemma Malley

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The Killables by Gemma Malley

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: More super dystopian writing from Gemma Malley, who manages to be exciting, romantic, challenging, sophisticated and accessible, all at the same time. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: March 2011
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1444722778

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In the City, evil has been eradicated. Each of its citizens has undergone the New Baptism - having the evil part of their brain, the amygdala, removed. But even this isn't enough - the City still needs its System, which monitors every citizen and labels accordingly. Any sign of evil results in a lower classification and the lowest classification of all is "K". Ks are sent for reconditioning. After this, they disappear and are never seen again.

Evie comes from a solid family. Her father is a City key holder, held in great respect. Evie herself has a positive B label. She is betrothed to Lucas, an A, and whose perfect, emotionless behaviour has made him the confidante of the Brother, the Great Leader's second-in-command and spiritual leader of the City. Evie is fortunate. So why does she suffer debilitating nightmares? Why does she have evil thoughts? And how could she have fallen in love with Raffy, Lucas's wild and dangerous brother?

When the System labels Raffy a K, Evie finally turns her back on the City and flees with him to the wasteland outside its walls - all that is left of Britain after the Horrors. What she finds there will change her life forever...

I love Gemma Malley. She's pure class (as my younger son would say). Somehow, she manages to produce books that are at once intellectual, challenging, sophisticated, exciting, romantic and accessible. I'm not sure quite how she manages it but I know I start reading her books the moment I receive them and I return to them over and over again. And there is always so much to talk about. In The Killables, Malley creates an authoritarian, ultra-controlled, denunciation environment that riffs on North Korea, or Stalinist Russia, or Iron Curtain East Germany. She covers cult psychology, cutting edge brain research, and touches on free-will vs determinism, a favourite topic for her. And that's before we even get to the story!

The plot itself is fairly straightforward: young people fighting against an unjust society - called into heroism whilst still trying to grow up. Malley's central characters are always independent, intelligent and passionate and this holds true for The Killables. The City has never been quite able to satisfactorily brainwash Evie. While she does try to be a good citizen and while she does feel guilty about her bad thoughts and transgressions, something deep inside her knows - has always known - that something isn't right. And when the chance to escape comes, she adapts quickly to new and challenging situations - much more effectively than the more openly rebellious Raffy. I really liked her.

I'm looking forward to the second book in this trilogy more than I can say.

If you like the dystopian genre and are looking outside the headline novels with film tie-ins for something with thematic depth, you could try The Last Free Cat by Jon Blake or Blackout by Sam Mills. Bookbag also enjoyed The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson. But if you're interested in the real life science and social science that informs intelligent dystopian writing like Gemma Malley's, and if you want to play with the big boys, then take a look at What is Your Dangerous Idea? by John Brockman.

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Buy The Killables by Gemma Malley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Killables by Gemma Malley at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Killables by Gemma Malley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Killables by Gemma Malley at


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