Night Speed – Chris Howard – Katherine Tegen – Published 3 May 2016
Only those young enough can survive the pulse-pounding rush of tetra, a dangerous and addictive new drug that fuels a nine-minute burst of superhuman strength and speed. Alana West has been trained to use the drug so she can pursue the young criminals who abuse its power—criminals like the breakneck who nearly killed her kid brother.
On tetra, Alana is unstoppable. The rush makes her an explosive blur as she surges through New York City, battling to bring down breaknecks before they leave more people dead or injured in their wake. But with the clock ticking down to her eighteenth birthday, Alana will soon be too old for the rush…when just one more dose will prove deadly.
Supported only by her strong and steady handler, Tucker, Alana goes undercover, infiltrating an elite gang of breaknecks to stop the supply of their drug. But when Alana gets trapped on the wrong side of the law, she learns the breaknecks are not quite what they seem—especially Ethan, the artistic boy whose bottomless brown eyes seem to see the truth inside her. With her own dependency on tetra increasing, Alana must decide where her loyalties lie before the rush ends. Forever.
Night Speed is an action-packed thriller but I think it speaks louder as a statement about the tight hold drugs have over the mind and heart, the blurred lines between right and wrong and the fight addicts must go through to reclaim themselves.
Alana started her use of tetra in an effort to fight the breaknecks who take the drug to commit crimes, using the high speed rush to fuel their getaway. But Alana has become enamoured of the rush tetra provides and the distance between the good guys and the bad guys shrinks when Alana is blamed for a breakneck’s death. She decides to go undercover to take down the source of tetra once and for all.
Night Speed addresses a poignant topic considering the parallels to today’s prevalence of drug use. I spent the majority of the book unsure what the underlying message was, that drugs were okay if the rush was worth the fallout or that drugs take everything from you. I think this is reflective of the grey areas of life and it certainly kept me guessing. However, despite the high percentage of rush chases, shoot outs, fights and armed robbery, this was a slow read for me.
I’m not sure I could call Alana a hero. She continues to say her actions are driven by wanting to bring down the bad guys but it’s hard to believe her when she is so desperate for her next fix. Alana is also quick to shift her affections from her handler Tucker to the mysterious breakneck, Ethan. I wasn’t sure whether I liked or disliked Alana and certainly couldn’t support her motives or actions a large percent of the time. But as the novel progressed I realised that this so accurately portrays an addict’s dilemma. And I have to say I was happy with the ending, as well as a few of the surprise reveals that I wasn’t expecting.
An interesting and thought-provoking novel, with plenty of action.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Drug use, addiction, violence, revenge.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Violence, strong descriptions of fights and shootings. Infrequent coarse language, f***, s***. Drug use.
Published: 3 May 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 416 pages.