MALADAPTED The Big Issues
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.