REVIEW: Death Donor *

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review but this in no way affects my opinion of it.

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Long time readers of This Northern Gal will know that I love science fiction and dystopian fiction. There is something about the speculative nature of it that really interests me as a reader. So when Matt Ward got in touch and offered me a copy of Death Donor in exchange for my honest review, I said yes!

Death Donor is part dystopian and part thriller. Set in a universe in which technology can offer life extension to the wealthy, Death Donor follows Sam, a bodyguard and Ethan, the billionaire she serves. The problem? ‘Fixing’ aging comes at a cost. A life must be offered for life extension to take place, which has resulted in an unequal society. When tragedy strikes, Sam sets out for revenge on the people in power. They are rich and well protected but she is skilled enough to cause havoc in the unhappy society.

This is certainly an interesting premise for a novel and I was intrigued from the first chapter. It raised plenty of ethical dilemmas to consider, many of which I found myself considering when I was making a cup of tea or sitting down to do something else. Technology is evolving quickly and Death Donor asks us if there is an ethical limit to what we can do with it. In fact, I would say that these questions were my favourite part of the novel as a whole. Watching the characters grapple with these big debates was truly fascinating.

It is also true that there is a lot of fast-paced action in Death Donor which makes it an enjoyable thriller. There are twists and turns throughout it! Seeing Sam’s involvement in them was particularly interesting -she is pretty bad-ass!

There were a couple of things in Death Donor that I didn’t love and most notable of all is the way Sam’s husband is portrayed, particularly in the marketing. He handled his grief very differently to Sam but I’m not completely comfortable with the way that is portrayed. I think a chance for an insightful and honest conversation on the impact grief can have on mental health was missed here and didn’t think it did the character justice. Considering how much I loved the way Matt Ward had built complex and morally grey characters, this was a little disappointing.

Overall however, I really did enjoy Death Donor and the speculations it made about the future of technology in healthcare and society as a whole. There were a lot of parallels with the modern world that were brought into question too, which just made it all the more interesting to me. Like all good dystopian texts, it deals with questions of humanity, what is right and crucially, what is wrong.

Kelly x

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