Nine ★★☆☆☆


I requested Nine because I was intrigued by the world: people literally killing themselves to better themselves (where am I familiar with this concept?). But it all just fell short.

In an alternate world startlingly close to our own, humans have nine lives—and they can’t wait to burn straight through them.

As you shed lives, you shed your awkward phases: one death is equal to one physical and mental upgrade. Julian’s friends are obsessed with the idea of burning lives, but Julian is determined to stay on his first for as long as he can. His mother, the ultimate cautionary tale, burned through her first eight in just a few years, and Julian has no intention of succumbing to the debilitating rebirth sickness that she inflicted on herself.

But the regime has death incentives aimed at controlling overpopulation, and Julian realizes that he’s going to have to burn at some point—especially when he becomes a target for Nicholas, the manipulative leader of the Burners, the school’s suicide club. And when Julian eventually succumbs, he uncovers suspicious gaps in the rebirth system that may explain exactly why his mother went so far down the rabbit hole years ago. Along with a group of student dissenters, Julian sets out to find answers and is soon on the verge of exposing the greatest conspiracy ever unleashed on the world.

He has just eight more lives to uncover the brutal truth.

We open in a burner party. Teens everywhere getting ready to kill themselves in order to increase the life they’re on, get more money, be faster, better, stronger. Julian is rightly put off by everyone’s willingness and eagerness to die. His hesitation is a huge part of his characterization which is why when Julian finally decides to end his first life, the book felt less realized.

Julian spends a lot of time being openly against the suicide system. He can’t believe people would just burn through their lives. And then he does. He literally takes the plunge (please forgive me) and ends his very first life.

Without much hesitation.

Then he continues to do it. But his sudden eagerness just doesn’t fit with the character that had been built up in the first act. He isn’t even driven by caring for his family which was a deciding factor in his decision to take his first life.

The premise was definitely cool, but the execution needed a little bit more. I would have liked a slower burn (again, please, forgive me) through his lives and more of a fight to do things his own way.


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