The Killables by Gemma Malley
Review by Michelle Herbert
Everyone accepted that people were different physically. But inside? Inside, they were different too. You just had to know how to tell, what to look for.
Evil has been eradicated. The City has been established. And citizens may only enter after having the ‘evil’ part of their brain removed. They are labelled on the System according to how ‘good’ they are. If they show signs of the evil emerging, they are labelled a K . . . But no one knows quite what that means. Only that they disappear, never to be seen again…
The Killables is a young adult book about a dystopian future following an event known as The Horrors. In this society everyone is labelled from A to D, to show their levels of goodness: A being the best and D meaning you are close to evil. This labelling system is quite similar to the breeding system in Huxley’s Brave New World and unfortunately for this book, although there is an interesting concept, the writing just does not do it justices. Quite simplistic in tone I found the book to be both boring and predictable.
Everyone in The City is given the New Baptism, a procedure which removes the amygdale in the brain as, in this novel, this has been found to be the cause of human evil. The book’s main focus is Evie, who lives with her parents and tries her best to be good. But she lives in constant fear of being downgraded from a B and wonders why she is always struggling with thoughts that might make her evil. Evie is matched to marry Lucas, a perfect A who acts like he is a machine, but she is secretly in love with his brother, who is in danger of becoming a K (as the book’s title suggests K is for Killable). This kicks off a vague suggestion of a love triangle, as we generally are seeing the world through Evie’s point of view she comes to realise she is conflicted in her feelings for Lucas, where Raffy, who is the opposite of Lucas in every way shows every emotion, and is always getting angry. Raffy’s main characteristic is to act first and think later. Evie just goes with it and doesn’t seem to be conscious until the last part of the book, where as Lucas is so encased in doing everything right that he scares everyone with his goodness.
All the characters in this book are very one-dimensional with the main characters Evie, Lucas and Raffy being given a supporting cast of Evie’s parents, the mother archtype who is always horrible to her daughter whilst her father is always kind to her. The fact that they live in such a restrictive utopia and are conditioned to fear everything limits the interactions and life of the characters.
All in all, this is a book that could have been so much better, maybe in the wake of the success of The Hunger Games we will be seeing many more dystopic novels aimed at young adults. I can only hope they are better than this. It is mentioned that this is the first of a new series, maybe the characters will become more rounded in the next one, but your guess is as good as mine.
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