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This book asks the question made most famous by "Spock" in "Star Trek - The Wrath of Khan": "Is the good of the many more important than the good of the few--or the one" (paraphrase)? And, if it is, is it the moral/right/decent/human thing to "Kill Someone" to make it so?
The main character, Chris, is given this very dilemma. He is just a normal young man--maybe a little lazy, maybe not too ambitious, maybe a little lost-- when he is literally forced to grow up and make choices no one should have to make for seemingly no reason. Chris must decide whether he can kill someone to save the lives of five sisters being held captive by the mysterious, "Man in White".
So how does a person go from being a slacker to having peoples' lives in his hands? We go every step of the way through it with Chris. At first he is incredulous; then comes denial; then comes acceptance; and then comes the anguish of the terrible decisions he is being forced to make. We learn about Chris' life through brief scenes from his past. He seems to have had a good life with a loving family, but he has also been harassed and discriminated against because he is black. Chris is written as a fully developed character. We know him, so we know the horror he feels, the frenzy he feels to do something--but he doesn't know what--and the self-doubts he has as to whether or not he can actually kill someone. He wants to do the right thing; he just doesn't know what that is. Could anyone? Could you?
If you don't want to talk about politics or global warming this Christmas, I suggest buying this book and a few copies as gifts for the family you will be sharing your Christmas with. This book asks questions that will lead to discussions (maybe heated ones) about what each reader would do if placed into the same position as Chris. You can literally discuss this book for hours and come away with no solid answers because the answers are personal to each individual person. Can you justify your beliefs as Chris must do? Can you explain your actions as Chris must do? Can you live with the end result of those actions as Chris must do for the rest of his life?
There are other questions raised when Chris finds out why this happened to him. Those questions may be even more difficult to answer. I have to say this book did not end the way I thought it would, nor the way I wanted it to, but it probably ended just the way it was supposed to end based on everything that happened previously. You'll probably have to read this again to catch things you might have missed the first time so that you come to some understanding of the decisions Chris makes. You may or may not agree with those decisions, but the book tells you why he made them, although you may not realize it at the time.
This is the second straight book of Luke Smitherd's that had nothing to do with the paranormal or science fiction, and I think it is a very good sign that this is probably one of his best books. It shows the range the author has and will keep readers eagerly anticipating his books, not knowing which direction he is going to go next. For current and future fans of Luke Smitherd, this is a very good thing. We already know he is an excellent writer, and now we are learning that he can write about almost anything and it will be of the same quality, with the same ability to make us think, make us wonder, make us scared, and make us question things we never thought twice about before.
I can't wait to see what comes next.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
Its a great premse. Not because its realistic, it is not. But it does something most unique. It forces you into imagining what you would do under the same circumstances.
Would you kill for the greater good? Who would you target? Enemies? Bad people? Terminally Ill? How would you do it? Is there a way out?
In truth, I grew frustrated with the process. Any other book would be rated one star. 3 stars here means it gripped me enough to think about those questions for days.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
The greatest strength of good sci-fi is its ability to hold a mirror to society, passing comment as entertainment. Serling's screenplay for Planet of the Apes is a searing indictment of American racism woven into an already marvellous film. Charlie Brooker sometimes managed it with Black Mirror (as anyone who has seen 'White Bear' can testify) but few are as consistently entertaining in their critique of society as Mr Smitherd.
While discussion of the book would necessitate far too many spoilers, I'll suffice to say that as always, Smitherd is comfortable enough in his own world without the need to reference others. The subtext is entirely left to the reader, without the need to have it hammered home. Think of the original cut of Blade Runner vs the ghastly Director's Cut and the significance of the unicorn.
Indeed, Smitherd is fast becoming a new Ridley Scott, true artist rather than craftsman, turning from one genre to another with a style that never feels predictable, and the early familiarity of tone is merely to wrong-foot the avid reader. It works too, and soon enough you forget trying to predict the course of events and simply want to read what happens next
As for the evolution of Mr Smith, this is by far his most accomplished work to date. Richer, more nuanced and ultimately more satisfying, 'Kill Someone' is worth adding as a blind buy, at least until the hunger returns
17 of 18 people found this review helpful
Where does Kill Someone rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
I’ll admit it, Kill Someone took me a lot longer to listen to than any of Luke Smitherd’s other books. Not in a bad way, quite the opposite in fact. See, the story revolves around a poor sod called Chris who has found himself in a bit of a pickle that can only by resolved by killing somebody (I hate when that happens - don’t you?). It doesn’t matter who he kills, all that matters is that he does, which got me thinking - who would I kill?
When I was listening to Kill Someone, I kept pausing for long periods of time to deliberate who I’d kill. Would I kill my postman? It wouldn’t be hard would it? I’d just order a new trouser press from Amazon, and as soon as he came lumbering up the path with it a few days later, I’d have at him with the garden shears. Chop, chop, chop I’d go, and I wouldn’t stop chopping until there were no more chops to chop. But, I’m not the most menacing of folks - maybe the postman would disarm me. Maybe he’d take away my shears and calm me down with reassuring words and hot bovril. I couldn’t kill a man who has offered me Bovril - could I?
It’s factors like this that make Kill Someone a very hard book to listen to quickly, because every decision that Chris makes forces you to think as him and really try to narrow down the best route to take. I won’t say anymore about Kill Someone other than it was tremendous, stupendous, horrendous and it drove me round the bendus. This is the second of Luke’s stories that don’t feature any hint of the supernatural (the first being How To Be A Vigilante: A Diary) which if anything makes them a little more sinister than the rest.
Buy this book right now, and while you’re at it bring me some Bovril. And a new trouser press. Vamos!
*I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review, and as you can see from the verified purchase mark I thought it was so good that I snapped my bank card in half and jammed it deep into my Macbook until Luke Smitherd got some of my ill gotten shillings.*
56 of 62 people found this review helpful
What a great listen! Richly depicted characters involved in an intriguing plot made this an audiobook I couldn't stop playing. My heart was racing one minute and I was giggling to myself the next.
Luke Smitherd has quickly become one of my favourite authors...he is a brilliant writer and all his books are unique and unusual. This one is no exception..
My husband and I listened to Kill Someone on a long road trip, and we stopped it a few times to discuss what we would do if in the same situation..we definitely had some interesting conversations!
I highly recommend any of Luke Smitherd books. If you haven't read him before, you are in for a treat.