In this twisted Lauren Oliver-meets-A.S. King debut, Julian has just eight more lives to burn in order to uncover a brutal secret.
In an alternate world startlingly close to our own, humans have nine lives—and they can’t wait to use them up.
The government has death incentives aimed at controlling overpopulation. 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, but Julian is determined to stay on his first life for as long as he can. His mother burned too fast and inflicted a debilitating rebirth sickness on herself.
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.
Hines's chilling debut takes place in an alternate America where each person gets nine lives. The first eight times someone dies, he or she "Burns" (moves on to the next life, returning in a brand-new body). To prevent overpopulation, people are offered incentives to be euthanized in licensed extinguishment clinics on a set schedule, but Burners hold illegal, elaborately staged, and gruesome suicide parties. At 17, Julian Dex is still a One; he needs to Burn to help his family's dire financial situation, but he's haunted by his mother's disappearance and descent into retrogression. He's also worried about his best friend, who wants to join Lakeshore Academy's Burners Club, led by charismatic, cruel Nicholas. When Julian meets enigmatic Cody and her friends, who don't Burn, he learns secrets that could change their lives, and deaths, forever. Hines's fast-paced tale effectively explores the insidious intentions of a surveillance state bent on controlling mortality, and offers an intriguing group of teens who are worth rooting for as they unravel a truly terrifying conspiracy. Ages 14 up.