Hit me. Not really. But could you at least remove the memory of reading this book from my consciousness?
This was probably one of the more misogynistic novels I've ever read. Seriously. I tried to reason on what was going on--thinking perhaps that Burgess was creating the characters this way on purpose, and that the reader was somehow supposed to realize that what was going on was very, very wrong, and thus Learn Another Lesson. Yes, this is a book about Problems. Like, Life, and stuff. Also sex. A lot of sex. Which is sad sex. But I'm getting ahead of myself--hang on.
Manchester. Near future UK. Adam thought he was good at football, until he failed at tryouts for Manchester U and the City. And pretty much everything else. His parents are pretty loathsome. His dad is rather inexplicably "an invalid" because he hurt his hand at his masonry job and can thus NEVER WORK AGAIN, and snipes at everyone about everything. In his dad's eyes, Adam is like this extra sack of flesh that happens to be his child. The other child, Adam's older brother Jess, is the Golden Boy--working hard as a chemist so the family can eat, etc. etc. Mum works third-shift doing ... something. Never mind what. Parents come and go in this book. One of the messages is that The Olds ruined everything, so, hey, let's have a revolution! Uh. I'm not convinced.
Okay, let's try this: in this near future, there's a drug called Death. Very creatively named, that drug. Originally created for terminally ill patients, Death has gained popularity as an underground drug. You get seven days of awesomeness (super strength, heightened senses, lowered inhibitions) followed by your heart going *boom*. OF COURSE all these people want to do it--right??? Life sucks so much that they'd rather die in seven days of insanity than just live. Ooh, wait, that's another Lesson We Learn. Life is worth living. Thanks. Let me needlepoint that on a scented sachet.
Adam and his girlfriend Lizzie (who is VERY RICH (this is evidently an important plot point) and also beautiful and did I mention VERY VERY RICH) go to a concert. The rock star, Jimmy Earle, supposedly took Death and will die sometime during the concert. No one really knows if it's a hoax or not--until *boom* goes Jimmy's heart. Manchester rather inexplicably turns into the looting scene out of a disaster movie (just because some rocker died???) and Adam and Lizzie run around like complete idiots, being like, "Whoa, look at all the fires and looting! This is so cool! It's the best night of my life!" Until they get caught and Lizzie's VERY RICH parents forbid her from seeing Adam, because he is a Poor. *tiny violin*
More stuff happens, and thinking that he has nothing to live for, Adam takes Death. He then decides that the rest of his life should be spent having sex and killing people, and probably driving fast cars. One of the items on his bucket list is to get Lizzie pregnant so that part of him will "live on."
Let's process this for a moment.
Ready? Okay, continuing on.
The absolute worst part about this book (discarding the boring writing style, the absolutely bonkers "villains," and the preachy mcpreachiness) is the way Burgess portrays women. Women are things that guys who take Death have sex with. Preferably, you have sex with as many women as possible (after all, they are only there to make your final days the Best Evar, guyz!) and probably impregnate a few, just for kicks. That's exactly what Adam does to Lizzie, and she GOES ALONG WITH IT. She feels some sort of obligation to be his sex doll for one week because it's his last week to live. Never mind that he chose to take the drug. Never mind that she is not in any way "obligated" to fulfill his fantasies. Here is how Lizzie feels after Day One of Adam on Death: "Today, she had run away from home, had sex for the first time with her boyfriend who had taken Death, was being hunted down by a pervert gangster--she hadn't even bothered telling that to Adam--and here she was, committing a major crime with a prison sentence hanging over her if she got caught." Oh, by the way, that was after she agreed to rob a liquor store to make Adam happy. It's allll about making Adam happy.
Then (dun dun dun) she figures out a way to get Adam the antidote to Death, but this involves having sex with a psychotic (literally) man-child who gets his jollies from paralyzing people by cutting into their vertebrae. Hooray! Lizzie reasons thusly: "What sort of a b*tch would she be to let Adam die, just because of sex? It was the old story. Boys went to the rescue with a gun in their hands, girls with their knickers in their pockets. So which was worse? This way, she thought, at least no one was going to get hurt."
So, let's sum up the reasoning so far. Being raped is no big as long as you are saving your boyfriend, who is a colossal *insert insult here*. Actually, you'd be a horrible person if you didn't sell your body. You prude. Plus, the only way girls get anything done is by having sex. Guys just shoot stuff. Besides, being raped doesn't hurt anybody.
EXCEPT, OH YEAH. YOU.
I am so full of rage at this book. The ending is predictable. If Burgess really wanted to shock, he would have done the realistic thing instead of the idealistic thing. But this book can die a thousand million fiery deaths for the way it portrays women.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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