The Kill Factor

The Kill Factor

YA Dystopia

A brand-new game show that offers young criminals the chance at freedom has been greenlit. Little do they know, winning is their only chance at survival. A captivating examination of the dark truths around the criminal justice system, Ben Oliver, critically acclaimed author of The Loop trilogy, delivers an action-packed thrill ride with deadly high stakes. Fifty contestants. Five mental and physical challenges. One winner. In a near-future where a virtual currency of digital content fuels a fame-hungry society, a brand-new experiment that combines social media and reality TV has been greenlit. Voted on, and contestants are sent to a maximum-security reform camp on an island where they can have no contact with the outside world. To lose means prison. But to win is to be free. The most popular young offender with the most upvotes by the end is given both a second chance in society and a cash prize. This kind of money could mean everything to Emerson and her family who live in the Burrows, one of the subterranean villages where the government have buried affordable housing. It’s more than freedom. It could mean the chance to change her family’s circumstance and finally find a place in the society they’ve never been allowed into. But what Emerson doesn’t know, what the viewers don’t know, is that the prison on the island is empty. Those who lose, those who are voted off aren’t incarcerated. Each challenge will leave more and more contestants to die. And the only choice they have is to win over viewers before it’s too late.

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5) What a fabulous premise! Young criminals are offered the chance of freedom if they go against 49 others in a competition. The one that wins gets freedom. Those that lose either die or get solitary confinement for life. The trick to winning is to win over the audience and get the most followers on social media.

Right from the start you know this will be an exciting story. We follow Emerson throughout the trials and surprises of the competition. She gives us a first-hand look into the extreme challenges that end up being life or death.

The book jumped right into the excitement, which I love. There wasn’t much build-up, which is both good and bad. It took me a bit to understand the influencers, what they did to earn followers and the currency. As much as I liked the characters, there were a lot. 50 contestants and the producer at minimum. While it’s not expected to know all 50 contestants, each were named multiple times making me feel as if I should know them or need to remember them for a future scene. I believe this also made it hard to connect with the characters as much as I would’ve liked. I didn’t feel emotions during deaths which says to me that the characters and story were not developed enough to make me invested. The romantic relationship also felt somewhat forced. Yes, I understand the extreme circumstances make angsty teens feel extensively but throwing around “love” so easily was not fitting. The whole game only lasted a few days. It was intense at times then very somber, then the intensity came again, back down to a minimum. The back and forth I didn’t love which also made the intense moments lose some of their impact. I do still have a few questions about that ending but it sounds like there will be a book 2 with that cliffhanger!

Ultimately this was a fun spin on the teen life and death competition trope. I recommend this for YA dystopia lovers!

General content summary: 

little to no language

Arson (person inside, death)

Parental death (previous)

Infant serious sickness (previous)

Alcohol (underage, few)

Many drugged involuntarily 

People buried in boxes (intense, life-threatening)

CPR (2x)

Deaths (multiple, few details, poisoning, large fall, arrows, blood, injuries, pain, multiple, some details)

Self harm (using a rock, blood, broken teeth and death)

Fat shaming

Physical violence (few)

Classism (multiple)

M/F kisses

Drownings (some nearly drown, others drown and float, another hits rocks and dies, falling off boat, death)

Panic attack 

Broken bone (limb angled wrong)

Choking a person

Bullying (multiple stories of experiencing it)

Thank you to Scholastic for the copy through NetGalley!

The book releases April 16, 2024.

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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