Advance Review: Eight Lives

★★★★★43397089

David Tran is dead. The young doctor was poised to revolutionize immunology with his miracle drug, but just as the first clinical trial is set to begin, he dies under mysterious circumstances. Eight Lives begins in the aftermath as those close to Tran recount their intertwined histories, trying to piece together the truth of this tragedy, unprepared for the secrets they’ll uncover about the “Golden Boy” of Australian medicine.

Eight Lives is Susan Hurley’s debut novel, and what an spectacular debut it is. One of the aspects of this novel that captured me the most was the technical detail interwoven. Fear not, the impeccable pacing isn’t slowed a bit. Instead Hurley enhances every turn of the plot with expertise, her decades of experience in medical research shining through as she shines light on an industry so vital, but so little known.

But this is more than a thoroughly researched thriller, Eight Lives is woven together with incredible precision. The story is told from the perspectives of David’s sister, his childhood friend, his lab assistant, his long-time girlfriend, and a “fixer” employed by his investors. Their stories, though many of them have nothing in common besides their relation to David, come together elegantly. Each holds a crucial piece to the puzzle and it is a thrill to watch realizations coalesce between parties that are, at times, completely at odds with one another. The truth of David’s death comes together slowly and painstakingly. It took my breath away as the truth was finally realized and Eight Lives has been in my thoughts for days since I finished. I’m certain this is one of those books you’ll have to read twice to truly appreciate. Continue reading “Advance Review: Eight Lives”

Review: The Test

★★★★★41940388

Alright, I’ll admit it. The Themis Files series has been gazing at me from my to-be-read shelf for over a year now. I’ve heard Sylvain Neuvel’s praises sung endlessly by friends and fellow reviewers, but I still haven’t made it to his debut novel, Sleeping Giants. I was thrilled at the announcement of The Test, his first novella, something for me to fly through quickly on a late night. The biggest takeaway for me: wow, I’ve been missing out.

I think this is one of those books you’re better of diving into yourself with as little foreknowledge as possible, so I’ll keep this brief. In order to become a citizen of Britain, you must first pass the twenty-five question British Citizenship Test. Idir Jalil, an Iranian immigrant hoping to secure his family’s future in this country they’ve come to know, will pass this test or he and his family will be deported immediately. The stakes are high enough before the day goes awry, forcing Idir to make decisions of life or death.

The Test flies by at breakneck speed. I like, many other readers, tore through this in a single sitting. Neuvel does not mince words. He quickly sets the stage as he introduces Idir, and just as promptly turns the world on it’s side less than twenty pages in. This is a masterfully written story that explores the value of a human life, and it rocked me to my core with each twist and turn as the plot unfolded.


The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian
Length: 112 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub. Date: February 12, 2019
Source: Personal copy
Amazon | Book Depository | Indiebound