REVIEW SUMMARY: Delilah S. Dawson launches a dystopic young adult SF series that excels in character and plot.
PROS: Extremely likable and engaging protagonist, wonderful plotting.
CONS: That ending will frustrate some, for sure.
BOTTOM LINE: You’ll want to make sure you leave some free time when you start this one because it will dig its hooks in and not let go of you.
It isn’t too much of a leap to think that banks own us, our debt, and everything we possess because of our debt to banks and credit cards. Take that idea one step (or leap) further – A single bank buys out all of America’s debt and America is the United States of America in name only. In Delilah S. Dawson’s dystopic tale Hit, Valor National (Bank) has done just that and owns all the debt. If you are overdue, they’ll come collecting just as they did on seventeen year-old Patricia (Patsy) Klein’s single mother (Patsy’s father left them years ago, and is only a faint memory for Patsy) with three options: pay all your debt now, die, or become an indentured servant for Valor National. In other words, become a bounty hunter for the bank and approach other people who owe Valor and offer them the same options. The indentured servitude lasts 5 days or until the 10 people on the list are killed, brought into service, or least likely, pay their debt.
Hit is the first of a series and Delilah Dawson does a fantastic job of introducing Patsy as the protagonist and first person narrator. The young girl is forced into her situation; becoming a bounty hunter for Valor National because if she doesn’t take a gun (and leave the cannoli), they’ll kill her and her mother because of overwhelming debt Mom built up after job losses and cancer treatments. Patsy gets her list, is assigned a painted-over mail truck and plays the role of delivery person in order to get her targets. When Patsy greets the target, she gives them something to sign as “confirmation of delivery” of the “fruit basket” she has. Once the agreement is signed (and never read before it is signed), Patsy offers each target the same choice: pay off the debt, become a bounty hunter, or eat a bullet.
The first person on her list is the man who was once Patsy’s mom’s boss, but that doesn’t make the job any easier. Through Patsy’s voice, Dawson does a great job of showing the weight of taking another’s life. What surprises her the most is that Wyatt, the son of the first victim, comes after her and becomes Patsy’s accomplice, “driver,” and “assistant.” After trying to kill each other, the romantic tension between the young lady and young man begins to reflavor their relationship to a deliciously tense degree. What they both know is that Wyatt’s older brother, as inheritor of dear old dad’s debt, is on Patsy’s list, the last name on the list in fact.
Damn was this a helluva ride was my second thought when the audio file for Hit ended. The first thought was DAMN YOU DAWSON! HOW COULD YOU END IT THIS WAY, I NEED MORE NOW! Although I don’t have too long of a commute from home to work, the days I was listening to Hit on the drive to and from work somehow were extended a bit, I didn’t want to pull into my parking spot at work and turn off the book. As Patsy makes her way through the ten names, more is revealed about Patsy’s life, her wish to know more about the father who abandoned her and her mother as well as the dystopic near future (which could easily be tomorrow) where the police aren’t answering phones and the bank does own everything. Patsy comes to find it odd that, somehow, every name on her list happened to be home when she rang the doorbell. Patsy also realizes that her mom’s former boss, as the first name on the list, isn’t the only person to whom she has deeper connections.
The natural dystopic comparison is to The Hunger Games, if only because both novels feature a very head-strong, likable, engaging, young female protagonist. If anything, the America and world revealed in Hit could be seen almost as a precursor to the fractured and realigned national boundaries of Panem. There’s a certain South Park episode that served as partial inspiration to the novel/series/world, but the story takes off from the notion set forth in that episode with Dawson’s wonderful pacing and character development.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the audio-book narrator. Rebekkah Ross did a great job as the audio-book narrator, the emotion and tension came through Patsy so well and drew me in as powerfully as did the story itself. It isn’t always easy for one gender to pull off the other gender’s voice, in this case Rebekkah speaking as male characters, Wyatt in particular, but it worked as good as I’ve heard in my limited audio-book reading experience.
I cannot wait for the sequel and after reading two novels from Delilah S. Dawson, she’s a must read for me.