Rather than start with a dystopia already in progress, Delilah S. Dawson starts right at the beginning on Day One of the apocalypse. Valor Savings has secretly just bought up all of America’s debt and now controls the nation. Congress has cashed out on their biggest-ever payday and the police have the day off while Valor hit-men go after debtors failing to properly contribute to society. Have a student loan, or a home mortgage? Still owe some money of your car? Then your name is on a list, all because you couldn’t be bothered to read the fine print. Now you have three options – pay your debt in full immediately, work for Valor Savings as a bounty hunter for five days, or die.
Seventeen-year-old Patsy is a Valor hit-man, coerced into taking the deal after her mother’s debt comes to light. Her mother has a number of outstanding bills and, already poor to begin with, cannot afford the medical care required to treat her cancer (as Patsy wryly notes, it costs more money to seek medical treatment than to become a doctor). Patsy is given the incentive to work as a hired gun in order to get her mom treatment courtesy of Valor, or else they both die. It’s not much of a deal, really, and there are no other options. She’s given a gun, a postal truck and a mail worker’s shirt to stay innocuous, and a list of ten names to deal with over the next five days.
Thankfully, Dawson takes the run-and-gun premise and imbues it with a nice bit of snark and charm, as well as a burgeoning romance between Patsy and Wyatt, whose father and brother both are on the Valor hit list. They make for an interesting couple, the very nature of their relationship underscored by a healthy amount of already built-in conflict, and while I at first felt their relationship somewhat strained credibility Dawson eventually won me over and I found myself rooting for them to succeed.
While Hit is labeled a Young Adult book, it’s certainly on the more mature end of the spectrum and the narrative is suitably dark with its violent plot and the beginning of the end for American society. Hit is also the first book in a series, and thus the narrative here provides a lot more questions than it can comfortably answer. Not everything is resolved neatly, and the ending perfectly sets up the sequel, Strike, due out April 2016.
On the narration side of things, Rebekkah Ross absolutely nails it. She has a lovely voice that carried the not-quite 8-hour listening time brilliantly, and I never doubted her as Patsy for a moment. There are a few times where an audiobook narrator instantly becomes the voice of a work or a series, and Ross is it for this work. Hit is a first-person POV narration, and right from the start Ross is Patsy. She slips into this role comfortably and pulls off the emotional range effortlessly, capturing Patsy’s angst, anger, and humor ridiculously well. The production is crisp and clean, with nary a hiccup to be found. All around, this is a very accomplished and professional effort and a wonderful audiobook.
After recently listening to Dawson describe Hit on the Three Guys With Beards podcast (hosted by authors Jonathan Maberry, Christopher Golden, and James A. Moore), I knew I had to check it out. And it was every bit as good as I had hoped it would be, even if I would have appreciated more in the way of resolution. But, hey, that’s what sequels are for, and if Strike is even half as good as Hit, I’ll be a very happy reader/listener.
[Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com]