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In an alternate world startlingly close to our own, humans have nine lives—and they can’t wait to burn straight through them.

As you shed lives, you shed your awkward phases: one death is equal to one physical and mental upgrade. Julian’s friends are obsessed with the idea of burning lives, but Julian is determined to stay on his first for as long as he can. His mother, the ultimate cautionary tale, burned through her first eight in just a few years, and Julian has no intention of succumbing to the debilitating rebirth sickness that she inflicted on herself.

But the regime has death incentives aimed at controlling overpopulation, and Julian realizes that he’s going to have to burn at some point—especially when he becomes a target for Nicholas, the manipulative leader of the Burners, the school’s suicide club. And when Julian eventually succumbs, he uncovers suspicious gaps in the rebirth system that may explain exactly why his mother went so far down the rabbit hole years ago. Along with a group of student dissenters, Julian sets out to find answers and is soon on the verge of exposing the greatest conspiracy ever unleashed on the world.

He has just eight more lives to uncover the brutal truth.

360 pages, Hardcover

First published August 7, 2018

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About the author

Zach Hines

1 book38 followers
Zach Hines is a novelist and screenwriter. Originally from West Virginia, he was based in Hong Kong, where for over ten years he worked as a journalist. He now lives in Los Angeles. Nine is his debut novel.

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5 stars
183 (15%)
4 stars
440 (36%)
3 stars
415 (34%)
2 stars
138 (11%)
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43 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 249 reviews
Profile Image for MarytheBookLover.
450 reviews955 followers
July 20, 2018
My Opinion:
I enjoyed this book tremendously. At first I thought this was so strange but, in a good way. The idea is that you have nine lives to burn in this alternate world. Usually, you die in a controlled environment like a clinic. But, there is a group of kids at the high school that call themselves the Burners that "die" via anyway they want i.e. by fire, drowning, shooting etc. They get a number tattooed on their necks with the number of the lives they are on. But, it changes after each life that you "burn".

Our hero of the story, Julian, is on his first life and doesn't want to "burn". The problem with that is, you are required to do this, and it gives you special bonuses to "burn". Meanwhile, his mother burned her lives, and as she did so, she changed for the worse. She didn't recognize her family anymore and went a little crazy from "dying" so many times. Something was happening to her each time she burned a life before she passed away. Julian knows that something very bad happened and he wants that information so he hooks up with the leader of the "Burners" to get it. The "Burners" are an elitist group that in the beginning Julian doesn't want any part of. It's the popular kids and Julian is just not interested in that or is he?

Well, our hero, Julian is scared that the same thing will happen to him, so he doesn't want to do it. He also, doesn't want to conform to what "society" thinks you should do - i.e. - he has a mind of his own. He thought his best friend was with him on this (Molly) but turns out, she conforms to society, so he really thinks he is all alone. But, he has to do it for his family. For those special incentives (peer pressure).

Without giving the book away (which I probably said to much already). He has to go through his journey of what burning lives means and of what happened to his mother. That is a need that consumes him. It was well written and after I got over the horror of them having to "burn" their lives. You are supposed to have "burned" so many lives by a certain age. Well, I really got into this book. I was rooting for Julian the whole time because he didn't want to do it. He was scared and I don't blame him. I got that the book is all about peer pressure - pressure to do it from friends - burn a life. Peer-pressure in the form of going to college, peer pressure to get a job - his dad. I get it. It just took me a while to understand it. I get that it has suicide written all over this book "burning" but, it's a great book and I recommend it because it's not a normal book, in the sense that you have to think about the reading, and what the author is trying to get across. For me that is the best kind of book. It had action, thrills, and humor in it! I would say this is for New Adult more than teens tho. I would recommend for 16+. Overall, this was a well written and executed book!

I give this book a 4.5 of 5 stars!

Favorite quote: "Growing up, like burning, wasn't a choice. It was always there, waiting to happen to you."
Profile Image for Catherine.
304 reviews74 followers
August 8, 2019
I don't even know where to begin. This book started off promising but the further I got, the less I cared for it. 

The best thing about this is the concept. Basically, the characters are living in a world where people have 9 lives instead of 1. Because of the risk of overpopulation, the government regulates how many lives a person has left by getting them to 'burn' them at different stages of their life. In return, people are eligible for different life milestones. For example, if one wants to get into a good college or get a part time job, they must have burned X amount of lives. Once a person burns a life, they are 'reborn' as themselves at their current age with an enhancement of their physical/ mental features. However, the opposite can sometimes happen. So, while burning lives has its benefits, it also has its drawbacks. 

The concept itself was cool, but the execution was meh. I think the thing I disliked the most was the dialogue. It was weird because it was like bad acting, but I was reading it instead of watching it. I don't even know how that's possible, but it's the best way I can describe it. I feel like some major plot points went unanswered, and the ones that did get answered had me uninterested because of how far fetched they were. I didn't really care for any of the characters, and I thought the ending could have been better. 

Overall this is getting 2 stars because the idea was interesting enough for me to keep reading, but unfortunately I feel dissatisfied with the book as a whole. 
Profile Image for Ashley.
774 reviews418 followers
August 26, 2018
Star Rating: Solid 3?

I liked it, I didn’t love it. It was kinda just a big MEH for me. But, *shrugs*, to each their own.
Profile Image for Lauren.
171 reviews29 followers
February 25, 2023
4.5 THIS WAS SO GOOD?!????? Unbelievably good, This world reminded me a bit of Shusterman’s worlds just because of the concept and delivery but wow this one definitely surprised me. A fast paced YA dystopian-ish story with great characters and an interesting plot
Profile Image for Jennifer Wheeler.
535 reviews70 followers
March 12, 2023
This was actually pretty amazing, especially considering its debut novel status. Since I enjoyed it so much, I immediately checked to see if Hines has published anything else…only to be disappointed that he hasn’t. But I’m definitely glad to have stumbled upon this one, and to have taken a chance on it even though it has some mixed, less than stellar reviews. I loved the dystopian setting, and the nine lives concept was both clever, and well executed. It’s the type of book that you can sit down and easily lose track of time.
Profile Image for Daniel Carpio.
144 reviews6 followers
August 15, 2019
Loved the concept of the book. It’s basically about a world where everyone gets to live nine lives. But because of overpopulation and a shortage of natural resources, the government gives people incentives to ‘burn’ their lives. The thing is, the more lives you burn, the more chances you have of developing ‘wrinkles’ which are defects (like not being able to taste anymore or not being able to see a specific color)

I thought this was great minus the ending. I felt like it was rushed. I loved Rocky and Julian’s relationship so much. I was almost in tears at some points in the story. 1 star off because of the ending or else it would have been an easy 5!
Profile Image for Pop Bop.
2,475 reviews99 followers
January 25, 2018
Not Just Some YA Conspiracy Thing

From the blurbs I figured this would start with an interesting premise and then turn into an "uncover the conspiracy" adventure, with maybe some action and probably a touch of romance. Well, yeah, that's actually all true, but boy did this author do a lot of fascinating stuff with the premise before then.

The idea is that in this alt-world everyone has nine lives - that is to say they are reborn eight time before they have their final permadeath. After each death they wake up in a Lake, swim to shore, and are met by a team of nurses and doctors who orient them and then put them on a bus back home. There are Lakes throughout the world, and this life-death-life-death process goes on globally. Because you can't really handle a population that recycles nine times, people are encouraged to "extinguish" themselves at regular intervals and so not take up space for too long. The benefit is that each rebirth comes with a physical and mental upgrade.

Here's the cool detail. Each person is tattooed with the number of his current life. While murder or euthanasia is strictly forbidden there are powerful, very powerful, social forces compelling people to extinguish themselves on the approved schedule. If your life number falls behind your apparent age you start to feel the pressure. It's school pressure, economic pressure, job pressure, social pressure. (Our hero, Julian, won't play ball and resists dying. And thereby hangs the tale.)

Now take this premise and run with it. First off, the whole book is a tremendous meditation on teen sex. Kids talking about never forgetting their first time, (dying), and popping their cherry, (first suicide), and losing their "One". This is knowing and hilarious satire, with an edgy undercurrent. Teens go to parties, get drunk, and decide to lose their "One". People lose their Two's on prom night. There are suicide clubs. This is deep and impressive parody and commentary.

Next, there is tremendous satire regarding parental and societal pressure to "succeed". Parents lose income and benefits if their household number falls below a certain total, so there's always parental pressure on kids to move up levels. Get a job, or get into a good college, turns into "upgrade from a Three to a Four". Again, the subtext is riveting. (Julian deals constantly with his Dad's disappointment in Julian's status as a teenage One, even with Mom as a cautionary tale of the downside of leveling up.)

Finally, you have the whole school culture angle. Who's popular, who's top dog, who dates the hottest girls - it all turns on your number and the swagger and style with which you move through lives. Do you go quietly to an extinguishment center and show up the next day with a new number, or do you electrocute yourself or blow yourself up at a school assembly? Well, do you want your death on YouTube?

Most of the book fools around with these jazzy ideas. Mixed in is this question of why our hero's Mom burned through all her lives and died from rebirth sickness. That kicks into high gear in the book's last quarter, and that's when we move on to the conspiracy-action-quest, which is perfectly fine but just not, to me, the beating heart of the book.

This is thinking YA, with many, many rewards to be teased out. Lots of suicides and some sex, (and especially and necessarily cavalier attitudes toward suicide), probably push this into an upper YA age group, but that seemed fine to me. This really was an exciting find.

(Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
Profile Image for Kathy Martin.
3,336 reviews73 followers
July 16, 2018
Julian is part of a society where everyone has nine lives. Each time you die, you upgrade in status and perks. However, Julian watched his mother keep upgrading her life count until she became permadead. Each new life cost in terms of senses and mental ability and even in knowing herself and her family. Julian wants no part of it.

Julian's school has a Burners Club where students throw away their lives in spectacular fashion rather than just visiting an extinguishment clinic. Due to family pressure, since his family's life score isn't giving them enough money to pay the mortgage, Julian very reluctantly joins.

But things are not quite as it seems. More and more people are being damaged instead of enhanced as they upgrade their life numbers. Julian finds himself in a group of young people who are tying to find answers to what is going on with the whole rebirth process.

This was an interesting story but I still don't understand the world. The stated goal of the process is to control overpopulation but I can't see how bringing people back to life nine times accomplishes that. If you can get over that concept, the story was exciting. Julian was an interesting character who had a mystery to solve. He got answers but they weren't necessarily the ones he wanted.

Other characters including Cody who is one of the discontented and thrown away kids and Nicholas who is the leader of the Burners and the son of the man in charge of the rebirth lake for their city were also interesting characters who each had their own agendas.

Fans of science fiction could enjoy this one because of the concept and the adventure.
Profile Image for anapao.
60 reviews
August 10, 2022
“You gotta play by the rules, even though you don’t get to make them.
But someone gets to make them.
And someday, we might all become someone.”
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,115 reviews1,010 followers
August 7, 2018
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

This was such a unique topic for a book- the concept of every person having nine lives. It was like cats, but not. But also there were cats involved and I cannot help but wonder if that was purposeful? Anyway. Let us break this down into the stuff I liked versus the stuff I did not as much, because sure.

What I Liked:

The concept! It's really interesting- it's basically an alternate universe I think, but where people have nine lives. But of course that creates... problems, because overpopulation and such, so there have to be advantages to burning off some of your lives.

It's also quite thought-provoking. A lot of the situations that Julian finds himself in are tough- and it made me wonder what I would have done in his shoes. The answer isn't always as easy as we'd hope or think.

There's also a lot of discussion about current topics. One of the main issues is how the poorer people are basically coerced into dying in order to stay afloat financially. There are a lot of other issues, but that's a pretty non-spoilery example of how poverty can snowball, and I thought it was insightful.

It's full of action and a quick read. I was definitely entertained- and sometimes horrified. But never bored.

What I Didn't:

Really, I just wanted more information about the world. In a concept like this, I wanted so many more answers about how and why the world has become this way. I think I would have been better able to understand the motivation behind a lot of the choices that people made if the world made more sense to me. It's a standalone for now, though I can see it being expanded upon too, so who knows.

Some of the political stuff got a little convoluted. I think this probably goes hand-in-hand with the above point, because these were the people whose motivations I didn't always understand. Or why some of the rules had evolved the way they had, and so forth. But when I didn't get answers I might have started to get a little apathetic about the political aspects.

A few bits were kind of predictable. Not terribly so, but some of the bigger stuff at the end I was pretty easily able to guess.

Bottom Line: A unique concept that is quite dark (yay if you enjoy darker reads like I do!), this book will certainly make you think- though you might also be thinking about how you'd like more world information, too.
Profile Image for TheEJHeider.
72 reviews2 followers
December 29, 2020

I bought this book just because of the concept alone. Humans with 9 lives & we follow Julian, a high school student who values his life and doesn't want to waste even a single one. But what happens when he must sacrifice at least one?

The introduction was great. It established the main mechanics of the world pretty well. I thought it would be simple, just humans with 9 lives but this new human attribute was integrated into the functioning society and it created a very interesting concept of death.

Having a population with 9 lives would pretty much overpopulate the world. So the government created a system for a scheduled "extinguishment" or to kill yourself in legalized clinics. But the state will pay you incentives every time you extinguish your life until you only have 1 left. That will be called a Life Score. The higher the score, the higher the incentives like tax refunds.

The rebirth in this book is not without consequences which was a great addition into the societal mechanics of this world. Every time you die, you get these physical & mental "upgrades" but you might also get "wrinkles". These are basically flaws when you undergo the process of rebirth. It ranges from losing a finger, to losing any of the 5 senses & irregular organ functions.

The story revolves around a high school kid who doesn't want to to waste his life. But all of that changes because in order to move forward with your life you need to die and that's not a voluntary thing. It's a mandatory requirement. Even a part time job requires you to be at least in your second life in order to be hired.

"You may not like the game, but you have to play the game".

The characters were so amazing, I was fully attached to the main character and his family. I didn't think that the societal requirement of dying would be such a complicated & deep topic for a father and son. Wow that was an experience.

There were so much stuff happening in the book and you just can't stop reading it. It's one of those page turners that every chapter has a crumb for you to follow. So you're basically hooked throughout the entire book.

The mystery in this book was amazing. Not to mention the conspiracy that was slowly unraveling as you progress chapter by chapter was perfectly executed. The stakes were getting higher and I love it. It was thrilling and very fun to read.

Over all this book is just simple amazing. A great book to end my year. I knew I would like but I didn't thought I would love it this much.

This is a very thought provoking book that makes you want to question yourself, Is having 9 lives really a blessing? Or is it really a curse? That answer will depend entirely on you. READ THIS BOOK. I highly recommend it.

A well deserved 5 STARS!
Profile Image for Rachel Kelly.
100 reviews1 follower
February 23, 2021
This book and I have been on a journey. I remember reading the description in like 10th grade while at Barnes and Noble, and just thinking it was the coolest idea! I also remember searching for it the next time I was at Barnes and Noble and not being able to find it. I wish it would have stayed that way :/ I got this for like $2 off of BookOutlet and it still cost too much money. The whole thing is weird and I really had to force myself to read the book. I had to resist the temptation to set it down every ten pages, and there were sometimes I lost that battle. The plot was really weird and confusing in a bad way, the characters were inconsistent, and to be completely honest I don’t recommend this to anyone. Goodbye and good riddance!
Profile Image for Maude VM.
63 reviews2 followers
September 2, 2018
5⭐️ Damn that was good!!! Enfin un livre où la fin n’est pas prévisible après 50 pages 🙌🏼 Ce livre explore des concepts nouveaux which is so refreshing! Love the plot and the MC.
Action packed and a bit of a mystery/intrigue 👌🏻
100% would recommend 😍
Profile Image for Jennifer.
Author 4 books8 followers
August 11, 2018
Nine has a very unique premise that I've never come across in a Y.A. novel - in an alternate world almost identical to ours, humans have nine lives. The entire society is structured around burning through lives - in order to get into college, you need to be on at least your 3rd life. To get government subsidies, your family's "life score" has to be high enough to qualify you for assistance. To get job promotions, you may need to burn a life...and so on. Those on their first life are either children or immature teens. There are almost no adults who've not burned lives. You simply can't function in the society otherwise. Clinics exist so that citizens can burn a life in the way the government approves of. Julian's high school, however, has a suicide club and the members make a spectacle of burning through their lives in illegal but quietly sanctioned methods. This book isn't for the squeamish. Teens in this novel can be utterly stupid and extinguish their lives in creative ways to wake up reborn and ready to face a new day.

There is a dark side to burning lives, though. "Wrinkles" can form - anything from something innocuous like a single skipped heart beat every minute to completely losing the ability to taste or see color. The more lives you burn, the more these wrinkles start appearing. There is something even darker...a rebirth sickness that is similar to dementia can afflict those who've burned through many lives. That's exactly what happened to Julian's mother and why he is still on his first life. The pressure begins to mount though, from Julian's peers in school, society's restrictions on those who haven't burned lives, and even his own father who needs their family to qualify for government assistance in order to not lose their home.

There is a lot of tension surrounding Julian and just what he is going to do...and then the plot takes a turn and there is much more you find has been hidden under the surface. I won't give any of that away, but it was certainly a fun read. I enjoyed the dystopian elements of the novel as well as the unique elements of the world. I was also very happy that this book wraps itself up with an ending instead of dragging over a trilogy as so many Y.A. books do these days. Overall, Nine was an exciting and interesting read.

Parent warnings:
Violence: ★★★★★ - graphic suicides / death
Cursing: ★★★ - some cursing, not overly frequent
Sexual content: ★ - a couple of mild kisses
LGBT content: a girl seems interested in another girl and kisses her during a party game
Profile Image for Kate’s Book Spot.
631 reviews22 followers
August 2, 2018
As soon as I read the description of this book I wanted to know more, it had my imagination going crazy so I couldn’t resist jumping straight in!

Zach Hines, you had me at the first line - don’t you just love an epic first line!

So I was pulled into the storyline straight away and literally couldn’t stop reading, this is definitely one of those books that continuously has you saying “just one more page”. The concept of humans having nine lives was fascinating, the idea of burning those lives was intriguing if not slightly horrifying, basically every part of what was happening kept me glued to the pages.

The author created an eerie, dark kind of atmosphere with his words and characters who were so easy to care about. One character in particular surprised me when I found myself warming to them in a big way, I certainly hadn’t seen that one coming! My heart pounded as I followed them through some seriously crazy events, searching for the truth was a dangerous mission that I wasn’t sure they could survive.

This was an intense and exciting read that made my heart race. I feel like this will be one of 2018’s big hits!
Profile Image for P.M..
1,218 reviews
November 13, 2018
I don't know whether this is creepily odd or oddly creepy. In an alternate world America, storms have swept in and changed the people into nine-lived beings. When dealing with a burgeoning population, the government goes conspiratorial and experiments with permadeath. Of course, the teens at Lakeshore Academy refine "burning" into an art form until Julian starts questioning the whole idea of using up one's nine lives. I wish there had been a better explanation for Julian's connection with the ghost cat.
Profile Image for Jenny.
360 reviews24 followers
May 24, 2019
''You grab life by the neck and you choke it to death.''

3.5⭐ So, some things were great but some things were just okay. I love how unique and different the plot was but I just think it wasn’t executed that well. I really like this concept of having nine lives and how society is in this premise. However, I felt that the plot and the character development was a bit rushed. I felt that the world building was a bit lacking as some things were still left unanswered for me at the end. Nevertheless, I still could enjoy reading it as I was intrigued by the plot.
Profile Image for Completely Melanie.
579 reviews377 followers
February 8, 2020
I would give this 3.75, yes I am being that picky. It wasn't quite a 4 star for me, but I did really enjoy it. I don't feel like I need to summarize anything on here because you can just read the synopsis and I don't want to spoil anything.
Profile Image for Lauren.
812 reviews931 followers
August 17, 2019
4.5 stars

This book was INCREDIBLE! Ah, I need to process my thoughts on this more before I review.

Profile Image for Jamie.
1,388 reviews1,104 followers
May 23, 2022
The concept for this one is out there. One day, life is normal, you live...you die. Then suddenly when you "die" you come out of a lake with no memory of your demise and continue with your next life. Your suppose to get 9 of them (MEOW!). I wish this was better explained the how and why it works, The why of the jobs and schooling based on your number and such. I find it sad that death holds no value and teens and even kids are okay with traumatic deaths. Seriously, even if I knew my friend would come back to life, I don't want to see their brains splattered everywhere, or watch them be electrocuted, etc.
Julia was detached in many ways, although less so than others. Still when things happen to those he cares about, his concern is less on them than I think is fair if he actually cared. But then I question that for everyone in this book.
Profile Image for Brina.
1,942 reviews117 followers
February 4, 2020
Was würdest du tun, wenn du neun Leben hättest? Diese und andere Fragen thematisiert "Neun" von Zach Hines und bringt dabei nicht nur jede Menge Spannung mit sich, sondern auch einige skurrile Momente, die mich wirklich gut unterhalten haben.

Zunächst war ich ein wenig skeptisch, da ich befürchtet habe, dass die Auflösung hierbei zu schnell passieren könnte und die Geschichte somit stets vorhersehbar ist, allerdings ist dem nicht so. Zach Hines hat eine interessante und spannende Geschichte geschaffen, die sich flüssig und leicht lesen lässt. Die Figuren sind dagegen reine Geschmackssache. Einige fand ich sehr sympathisch und gut ausgearbeitet, andere waren dagegen vom Autor komplett überzeichnet, was ein wenig schade ist, da hier mehr drin gewesen wäre.

In "Neun" geht es nicht nur darum, wie leichtsinnig die Menschen heutzutage mit ihrem Leben umgehen und wie schnelllebig stellenweise alles verläuft, sondern auch die Hinterfragung, was es mit den neun Leben zu tun hat, welchen Sinn diese haben und warum so viele Menschen ihre Chancen auf ein normales, sicheres Leben nicht nutzen. So gibt es besonders bei den Jugendlichen viele sogenannte Auslöschungsparties, bei denen man möglichst spektakulär sterben möchte. Mal ertrinkt man, mal erschießt man sich, mal betrinkt man sich so sehr, dass man an einer Alkoholvergiftung stirbt - je spektakulärer man stirbt, desto höher steigt man bei anderen im Ansehen. Dies ist zwar einerseits sehr makaber und lässt einen immer wieder mit dem Kopf schütteln, andererseits ist es allerdings doch sehr interessant, welche Ideen der Autor hierbei ausgearbeitet hat. Auch die Erklärung des Sinns ist sehr interessant, spannend umgesetzt und bringt eine gewisse Tiefe mit sich, die ich im Vorfeld nicht erwartet habe.

Somit ist "Neun" insgesamt eine spannende und gut ausgearbeitete Geschichte mit einer interessanten Thematik und der Frage nach dem Sinn des Lebens. Zwar sind die Figuren stellenweise sehr anstrengend und besitzen noch deutlich Luft nach oben, allerdings hat mich dies während des Lesens nur selten gestört. Aufgrund dessen kann ich nur eine Empfehlung aussprechen!
Profile Image for Romy.
16 reviews
September 13, 2019
This book has me a little confused. I like the premise of the book. It is written from multiple perspectives which I always enjoy better than a singular perspective. Also there was a gay character which is always a plus, (unless is the “bury your gays” kind). I really like the concept of Burners, the way they kind of say “fuck society, we die how me want” which I can definitely relate to. I also really liked the way the story called for many metaphors with double meanings. And even though Amit was a very small character the fact that he lost his taste really touched me. It was though the only thing in the whole book that really touched me at all.
I did feel like something in the book where very lazy. Some stories that where written as summarises that I would way rather have read fully written out, or just Deus Ex Machina of the letter literally telling them everything they need to know. The book also repeats many things, like a summary of the events that have happened. Which I found very annoying, because I had read all that already, so I know. I also felt like the whole system of these rebirths weren’t really that well thought out or explained. I didn’t really understand that whole thing with the money and the subsidies and how it all meant the would lose the house. It wasn’t really explained well enough in my opinion. Just like the retrograde didn’t really make sense to me. How and when it all would happen, which made the whole thing with Molly kind of weird.
I did like the book, I felt it lacking in some area’s but overall reading it was very enjoyable.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Teenreadsdotcom.
696 reviews37 followers
August 15, 2018
In a clever twist on dystopian storytelling, Zach Hines shows us a present day alternative world remarkably similar to our own in his debut novel NINE.

Hundreds of years ago, in an Earth of a different dimension, a comet crashed into the planet, altering the atmosphere. When the fallout cleared, humans were irrevocably altered, having nine lives instead of just one.

Fast forward to the present day and society has adapted to their nine lives. Needing to organize structure and optimize the population, each death you go through equals physical and mental upgrades. Not to mention societal benefits as well.

Julian doesn’t want to burn through his lives. Having watched his mother deteriorate too quickly before reaching permadeath, he has no desire to go through the rebirth process --- or risk the rebirth sickness. But there’s a price to pay for staying a One. Ones cannot go to college, hold jobs or get married. You must be on an appropriate life number to move ahead.

Finding himself the target of The Burners, the school’s suicide club, Julian realizes that society won’t allow him to remain a One. Finally relenting, Julian’s death begins to uncover holes in the system and offers him the chance to find out what really happened with his mother. They’ve been told death leads to better lives. But what if they’ve been lied to?

NINE is an amazing ride! I love how Hines gives us a fresh twist on the dystopian world by giving us not a world set in the future, but one in an alternate dimension. Even though the world is by and large recognizable to our own, it is very different. Hines fluently weaves the nuanced differences into the storytelling in such a way that the reader is fully submersed into this new world with ease.

One of my absolute favorite things about this novel is how creative the discussion of power and control is. Without giving anything away, I thought it was fascinating and very realistic how the wealthy would ensure that even extra lives would be manipulated to exert their control over the poor. The truth that Julian uncovers is a chilling and brilliant plot twist that still hasn’t left me.

For avid readers of science fiction, there are a few plot holes that may pull the reader out of the story. This is a complicated world, and while Hines does an excellent job presenting the details to us, it does have a few gaps that may stand out. For me, the writing was solid and the story had me so enthralled, that while I questioned the holes as I came across them, they didn’t detract from the overall reading experience.

I will caution that this is a story where death is glorified and glamorized. There are scenes describing suicide and other violent deaths that may be too much for sensitive readers. They are frequent, and they are intense.

In all, this is an excellent debut novel that is unique and powerful. This world is incredibly realistic and filled with characters that are well developed. NINE will appeal to dystopian readers and fans of science fiction. I would highly recommend this book and cannot wait for more from Hines.
Profile Image for Ainslee || Jest and Hearts.
150 reviews32 followers
May 22, 2018
This was so weird but so interesting.

The book is full of strange death clubs, government secrets and conspiracies, weird super intelligent cats and cicadas(yes, you read that right!) and rebellion groups.

Basically the story is set in an alternate universe where people have nine lives. When they die their "life score" increases and they get benefits like money and better jobs etc. The main character Julian doesn't want to die, hes on his first life which is unusual for someone his age. The more lives you burn through the more abnormalities (loss of colour, loss of taste, memory loss etc.) appear when they are reborn. Not only do more abnormalities appear but retrogression happens, this is when someone is reborn and cant remember anything about themselves, not even their name. After Julian burns he learns some pretty shocking truths about what actually happens when you die and some pretty shocking truths about the government.

This book starts off with a bang, literally!
At Julian's school there is a prestigious death club called The Burners which everyone (except Julian) wants to be a part of. This group plans deaths and group deaths which they stream and upload online so everyone can see. But morbid, huh? The book starts off with Julian and his best friend Molly at a Burners party the night before school starts, and like I said this party goes off with a bang! This is basically the whole book where the deaths are done for a shock factor, some of them will make you think WTF. The author is incredibly creative.

Julian is a great MC he doesn't want to fit the norm and doesn't want to die. He doesn't see the point and has seen first hand what burning can do to your mind. You'll be rooting for him to find the truth and to stand for what he believes in. He makes some unlikely friends who are willing to help him because they share the same goals. He also gets himself into some pretty sticky situations. The one thing that kind of threw me off about Julian was how he spoke sometimes, he seemed very formal which doesn't fit his personality or upbringing

Also, this author must love cats, and i'm here for that. Cats are mentioned throughout the book and play a role in the story. There are different types of cats, Lake cats and regular cats and the lake cats are incredibly intelligent. Praise all of the cats!

Overall this book was great. It was weird, interesting and creative! But the book leaves off as though there could be anothe, the story could continue and it leaves a few questions too. If there is another book I will be reading it.

If you are squeamish about death or don't want to read about suicide I wouldn't recommend you read this. Because that's basically what happens, people kill themselves to increase their life score, which is the premise of the book.

Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with a copy for review.
Profile Image for Mel (Daily Prophecy).
1,075 reviews466 followers
January 29, 2019
The whole concept was freaky and interesting (sounded a bit like a Black Mirror episode). People burn through their lives, 10 in total, and in the process get a better, yet flawed body. You will be more slim and handsome, but still return with a 'Wrinkle', like losing taste or seeing a certain color. The higher the number, the better your chances in life. You need to burn through certain lives in order to gain things like a job and a marriage.

Julian is a solid number 1 and he is planning to stay like that after seeing his mother burn through her lives and ending up Permadead. Nicholas has different plans with Julian though and manages to manipulate him into losing his First, for personal gains. Nicholas is part of the Burner club and he wants to set a new record. Together with the Headmaster, he wants to spike up the Life Number of their school.

The problem is that some people aren't returning or when they do, they aren't the same. Julian befriends Cody and they uncover the truth behind the Lake - and it has something to do with a project by Julian's mother.

What bothers me is that I still don't know what is going on with the cat and why the main character seems to be capable of calling on cicadas. I felt okay about Julian, disliked his disfunctional relationship with Molly, loved his relation with his brother Rocky and was happy about the lack of romance that could have been brewing between him and Cody.

Overall a book that has a great concept, but lacked in execution.
Profile Image for Kara.
22 reviews1 follower
September 12, 2022
This book made me so very frustrated. The concept is SO cool. I am genuinely mad that it wasn't executed better. The world-building is shallow, the writing feels all over the place, and the dialogue is stilted and unnatural. None of the characters feel fleshed out and had weak motivation for their actions. I get angry thinking about it because the MC goes from "I never want to burn" to "okay I guess I'll do it" in almost no time. The only thing that was interesting about him was gone after two chapters. And then the way he meets Cody is so weird?? She just ropes him into her research and introduces him to her whole "undercover" operation. The entire car chase felt cheesy at best and the cat storyline was awful. Why could the cats talk at the end? I also kept forgetting characters because they were introduced once and then only brought up in the end. The MC had almost no attachment to his brother until the end, doesn't mourn the death of his father, almost forgets about his best friend half the time, and abandons Cody. All their problems get magically solved in the end with way too many loose ends. Can someone please explain to me the point behind the cicadas in the storyline? Everything felt way too out of the blue and was supposed to feel intense but felt stupid instead. I wish his mom was actually "the bad guy" instead of doing the cheesy defiant trope. The world-building was very shallow and the "hacking" the friend did felt like a kid playing pretend. Overall, I would not recommend and it took me too long to finish because I was so mad while reading it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jay.
56 reviews2 followers
November 5, 2018
They Both Die At The End on crack.

Where do I begin? What even is this book? For some people, this book might be information and sensory overload.
Do not skim read this book, everything is important everything matters. If you so much as skim read or skip two sentences you will be completely lost.
Curiosity and the desire to know plays a huge part in this book. Both for the readers and the characters.
I feel like I just read and learned something I shouldn’t have. Like it’s some kind of secret thing. It doesn’t help that about 6 minutes after finishing the book I got a mysterious Amazon package I never ordered with no clue what was inside.

:World Building/Writing:
This book pulls no punches. You are thrown into everything right off the bat. It took exactly one page before I said “wtf”. There is absolutely no filler, no breaks and no rest to be found in this book. I personally love that, others may not. It might be interesting to read this while wearing a heart rate monitor.
Be prepared to have to know some seriously big words and high-level scientific theories. This book is incredibly smart and rereading some parts is likely going to be needed. Are you ready to have fun with quantum physics kids?
Nothing is obvious anything you think is, isn’t.
The way it describes that painful “I need to cry” sadness and loneliness is flawless. The descriptions in this book don’t come off as eloquent or eye-catching, they are simply very real and very genuine.
I like how things stay important, stay relevant. Nothing is meaningless and everything has something.
I was actually deeply saddened by Julian’s loss of a life. Holly crap is the build-up fantastic.
This author has some wicked serious creativity; Bathtubs of vodka, Shotguns for spin the bottle, machetes for straws, sparklers of doom, far too many toasters for one mouth, live wire nooses, brick parachutes etc “Felicity’s Fun With Blenders”
This has near no rereadability value. This book should be left alone with its single read experience. Whatever you got from it is what you take.
If you want to understand the complexity and absurdity; the turning point is garlic chicken nuggets...........contemplate that.

One thing that struck me so strong as odd was all the soy. Why they heck is soy everywhere. Why is everyone consuming it? Not only is that stuff gross it’s unhealthy. These kids need milk.

All these characters are perfect, however, none of them get enough page time; not even the main character. There are also too many important characters for a stand-alone book. This results in all of them not being fleshed out enough and feeling rushed.

Julian: this guy’s entire life is just one big confused mess and he knows it. Utterly alone in life and forced to do things purely to suit societies norms. Very relatable and quite squeamish. Positively broken and traumatized, but keeping it together.

Julian’s family: Honestly his father and brother are just plot devices but there is heart to them. His mother, on the other hand, is only in the book as backstory and reasons for the chaos.

Nicholas: Possibly half insane, really good a winning and could easily become a tyrannical war Lord. Really likeable and he’s a good guy at heart, just with very questionable morals. His introduction was beyond stellar and his character remains true the whole story.

Denton: My word screw this guy. He’s exactly why so many folks hate the higher-ups in society. Doing whatever, ethics and morals be damned, to keep his schools' death count high. Believes in eliminating the poor.

Cody: I’m not sure who or even what Cody is. This character is done superbly well. Cody gets explained later but wow is she something else. Flat out genius or not, that’s up to you to decide. Hard-headed and will do whatever it takes to do what is right. Money, resources and power be damned.

Constance: This girl is plain old evil no doubt about it. But that’s all we really get to see of her, in some ways she just feels like a plot device. Is the mean school queen bee that’s ultra-beautiful stereotype.

Franklin: This character feels like he is the reader which is very odd. Even if he’s not even kind of prominent in the book. Goes with the flow and what society has given him but is disgusted by it. Easily reads others and see’s them for what they are.

The cat: The cat! That cat! Everything about the cat! Perfectly conveys the mystery and utter knowingness of felines. I sadly can’t say any more.

Capitalism, it’s always capitalism.
This book doesn’t feel like it has an ending, it just ends. It’s very natural even if I feel like Julian got cheated a bit. He basically ends where he started but more messed up and possibly more. Nicholas is utterly perfect and seeing him revel is fantastic. Cody’s behaviour kind of confuses me and seems like her part in the ending was just the authors' way of tieing up loose ends.
There’s a ton of unanswered questions: what’s up with the cicadas? What happened to Molly? What’s up with Robbie? Where’d everyone go? What the hell is that one random thing mentioned right at the end to do with the government? What about the cat? What’s up with Julian? There’s so much more I want to know. Yet the books ending is so perfectly definitive that I feel it’s complete. Lastly, that cat!

For such a creative and intelligent book it’s cover is basic and rather thoughtless. Using a giant nine is pretty unimaginative though relates the most important thing about the book. The ripped up and damaged paper looking background conveys the confusion and brokenness of the books world. Aesthetically it’s pleasing but nothing to physically be home about. Something really graphic, shocking or crazy would have been better suited. Cover pales in comparison to the book.

Overall, definitely read this book especially if you like dystopians. Do not read this if you are looking for a slow burn or a romance. Chances are you will feel confused multiple times and you will be left with more questions than answers.

“Embrace the absurdity of the world and the absurdity of yourself!”
Profile Image for Reading is my Escape.
838 reviews45 followers
March 6, 2021
In a parallel world, a massive storm changed the atmosphere and people have nine lives. To avoid overpopulation, governments set up a system where people are rewarded for extinguishing their "extra" lives and punished if they don't keep up with the required schedule (they can't get jobs or go to college unless they are a certain number). But lately, people don't always come back, and when they do, sometimes they don't remember who they are.

So this book is unique and I really enjoyed it. Julian is just a kid, trying to survive. His dad asks him to extinguish two of his lives because they need the money and he can't get a job because he's a one. He eventually decides to burn his two lives, so he can get the leader of the burners, Nicholas, to help him find out about his mom. He meets some interesting people along the way as he tries to uncover the conspiracy. Btw, certain cats have nine lives too, and they also seem to have above-average intelligence.

It's a twisty story with great characters. I recommend it if you like YA novels.
Profile Image for Cytrina Ogle.
429 reviews2 followers
April 10, 2019
So we start in an alternate universe where everyone has 9 lives and you get life points (money food etc) for burning through them since population is an issue. The first chapter is cray. It’s a death party basically, and there is this club called the burners who encourage their members to creatively burn through their lives. This is also illegal because this should happen in a legal extinguishment clinic. We follow Molly in her reincarnation in a new body after the killing party thing. You come back at the same age but better quality but you do get a wrinkle (some people can’t smell or taste certain things).

So Julian. Julian is still a one which is unheard of at his age. His mother burned through her lives quickly which drove her a little crazy, not recognizing her kids etc. Dad needs Julian to burn through some lives in order for them to keep their house. In come the burners. Their leader, Nicholas, is very good at being creative and making sure no one is caught etc. He gets Julian on-board and helps him plan his first burn, a daring jump off of a high story building and gains a lot of notoriety from this.

He meets Cody, a girl who studies the lake cats and shows him that retrogression (losing your mind from burning lives) is happening in younger people and the people at the Lake (where people are reborn) are denying it and hiding it. We find out Cody lives in Cats Cradle, a house for the children of retrograde parents who got left behind, and believes that not everyone gets their 9 lives.

Julian goes to Nicholas begging to find out what he knows about his mother but Nicholas is upset with him and talks him into burning his second one at a football game. He dresses up as the mascot and Nicholas straight up electrocutes him (this guy is crazy). At the Lake, he discovers his 3 wrinkle is that he’s lost the colour green, the colour of his mothers eyes. He then discovers that the last project his mother was working on at the Lake was a study of the Lakes effects on plants and the cat population. I love that they’re bringing cats into this, since they say cats have 9 lives.

Cody and Julian track down Callum, who worked with his mother on the project. Callum is very mysterious and all he says is to stop burning. On the way out, Cody and Julian see cameras that probably saw them come in. Also at this point, Molly is MIA. The main burner bitch killed her and Anastasia (also MIA) with a paralytic fish. Julian asks some burners, including Nicholas but gets no answers. He goes to Molly’s house and everything is gone and there’s a note saying the house has been seized by the Lake. Cody and Julian go to the big burn that’s going to happen and Nicholas tries to force Julian to burn again, but he calls Nicholas out for making people burn and that Molly and Anastasia are gone and asks if they’re retrograde or permadead and chaos ensues.

Franklin and Constance meet with the prelate, the one who looks over the Lake returners. Apparently he got Constance to kill the girls and now wants Franklin to do the same. Julian goes with Cody to talk to Callum but finds a note instead, that explains that the project his mom was working on showed that right after someone came out of the lake they could be killed over and over and have no recollection of it. So they could have a 3 on their neck but actually be on life 9!! Julian finds out that his dad has been scheduled for extinguishment to get the loan to save the house. Julian goes to pick him up but he's not there. The house and everything is taken by the Lake and Julian and his brother are sent to a house for retro-affected kids. His brother is then taken to the Lake with all the other Ones with NO CONTEXT.

Cody and Julian (after a whole lot of other stuff) decide to break in to the Lake complex to find out what happened with Julian's mom experiment and break out Rocky. Nicholas helps them (because Julian threatens to tell everyone he's a One not a Five). Chaos ensues, but they do get all the files onto a stick, get Rocky and escape. They find out that the reason Julian's mom died was because she was against the project so they kept killing her and basically sent her into being retro before her permadeath. She was yelling at Julian because she didn't want him to extinguish ever. They also send out an announcement to stop all extingushments. Nicholas pulls Julian aside to tell him no one will believe him so give him the stick and he can get it out. Julian refuses but then Nicholas shows them the number chip gun he has. He makes both Nicholas and Rocky Nine's.

After, Nicholas is super famous and everyone is so happy he saved them. The world is like borderline in a war because of the population but no one is being killed off. Julian and Rocky are living peacefully in the Nine complex and Julian should be able to get into college no problem because of his number. He has custody of Rocky as well. Cody and him meet and she doesn't want to see him anymore. He sees the black cat but Cody doesn't.

A few things were left unanswered for me. What's with the black cat? Is it his mom?? And how was he able to do certain things (call the elevator, call the cicadas to save them). All in all, I loved it but there were a few things left unanswered for a stand alone book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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