MALADAPTED The Big Is­sues

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews - Paul Kirkley

re­leased 7 April 313 pages | Pa­per­back/ ebook

Au­thor Richard Kurti

Pub­lisher Walker Books

Maladapted opens in in­cen­di­ary fash­ion, with a vivid ter­ror at­tack on a packed metro train. It’s an event that has dra­matic reper­cus­sions for the book’s pro­tag­o­nists: Cil­lian, a gifted young stu­dent who walks away from the car­nage with barely a scratch, and Tess, the rad­i­calised teenager who planted the bomb.

As this premise im­plies, Richard Kurti’s YA novel ( for read­ers 12 and above) doesn’t shrink from tack­ling some pretty big, in­flam­ma­tory is­sues. As well as religious fa­nati­cism, there are med­i­ta­tions on eu­gen­ics, big pharma, con­sumerism, the wel­fare state, tech- fetishism, the dark web and more.

Ex­cept “med­i­ta­tions” does Kurti a dis­ser­vice, be­cause what’s strik­ing is how lightly Maladapted wears all th­ese weighty con­cerns, us­ing them to power a taut, pacy thriller that takes us from the sky walk­ways of a fu­tur­is­tic city to a re­mote gothic fortress hous­ing a ter­ri­ble se­cret.

At the heart of the story is the fas­ci­nat­ing dy­namic be­tween the vic­tim and per­pe­tra­tor of a ter­ror­ist atroc­ity, as Cil­lian and Tess are forced into a brit­tle al­liance against the forces of dark­ness. For a kids’ book, Maladapted has some very grown- up ideas.

Richard Kurti’s other cred­its in­clude Primeval, Sin­bad, Wolf­blood and Sky’s Terry Pratch­ett adap Go­ing Postal.

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