Cover Image: She's A Killer

She's A Killer

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Member Reviews

This book just didn’t click with me right from the start and was nearly a DNF after just a few chapters. There’s some interest in the idea of the wealthy escaping the consequences of climate catastrophe but it’s never explored in any depth. And the question of killing in the name of good is only tackled in a very shallow sense.

Main characters are not sympathetic and the plot is pretty bonkers and without emotional impact. And the ending is disappointing with characters showing no growth.

I hate to diss a small publisher but this is thin stuff. A wacky central character is not enough.

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Feminist, Science Fiction, Dystopian. What a great combination of genres. I found myself wishing I liked this novel. I didn't dislike it but I just didn't find it interesting. At times I found the satirical nature of it amusing. I know this novel will find an audience that will love it. It just wasn't me.

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"She's A Killer" by Kirsten McDougall presents a unique and thought-provoking narrative set against a backdrop of environmental crisis and social upheaval. McDougall's writing is sharp and engaging, drawing readers into the eccentric world of protagonist Alice and her imaginary friend, Simp.

The novel's exploration of complex themes such as privilege, immigration, and personal ambition is ambitious and commendable. However, at times, the storyline feels disjointed, and some characters lack depth, making it challenging to fully invest in their journeys.

Despite these drawbacks, "She's A Killer" offers a fresh perspective on contemporary issues and a protagonist who is both enigmatic and relatable. Fans of experimental fiction may find this book intriguing, but those seeking a more cohesive plot and fully developed characters might be left wanting more.

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I was given access to an advanced copy of this book through netgalley.
At first I couldn't really get into it, because I chose to read it randomly based on what i downloaded on the app. The beginning of the story sounded like something I wasn't going to like, but oh boy how wrong I was. Life got in the way and I forgot about netgalley. Every once in a while though I came back to the app to renew the books I had downloaded and sometimes I would read some pages of "She's a killer". I had made it to fifty pages when I forgot again. Fast forward to today. I randomly opened the app and saw that I couldn't renew this book and it said I had 12 hours left to read. So obviously I went home as fast as I could and I started bingeing it. BUT THEN, THE PLOT TWIST. While I was still missing 30% of the book, the app told me it had been removed. So, after being left stunned for a sec, I obviously went on kindle and bought the e-reading copy to finish it. And the rest is history.

Now, to actually talk about the book. At first when I started reading I couldn't picture how I, a 20 something year old studying psychology like our very own protagonist did, could feel connected with the main character. But then, as I went along with reading, I realised that it was the feeling or the subtle realisation to be lost in life and to be slightly mentally ill that made us similar. Of course this didn't prepare me for what was about to happen in the story, but somehow the fact that I too had an imaginary friend when I was little was reassuring.
I really liked how her personality was depicted. Or her lack of it, if you will, but maybe it would be better to say her lack of a will to change something in her life and finally use her intelligence and personality to the full potential. And I really liked how everything was described and how the story was written. The sense of humour was top-notch and the weirdness / absurdity of everything was actually the thing that made it realistic. I liked how the story progressed, the plot was actually really interesting to follow, although I have to say the ending was a bit anticlimatic. But I really loved the references to Erika in the end - how she made known she was there even if she was far away.

So thank you to netgalley and Kirsten McDougall for this book, even though for my own forgetfulness I had to pay for it in the end!

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Took me a while to get into, a bit all-over the place and out there, whilst being intriguing.
Characters were interesting and I liked Simp, the imaginary friend. But it wasn't easy to read and follow.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

She's A Killer is a satirical dystopian thriller that explores the themes of climate change, immigration, intelligence, and morality. The protagonist, Alice, is a near-genius slacker who lives with her mother and communicates with her by Morse code. She also has an imaginary friend, Simp, who is a sarcastic and manipulative voice in her head. Alice's life takes a turn when she meets Pablo, a wealthy immigrant from a climate-ravaged country, and his daughter Erika, a ruthless genius who has a sinister plan.

The novel is a fast-paced and darkly humorous ride that keeps the reader hooked with its twists and turns. The author creates a vivid and believable world that is both familiar and frightening, where the effects of climate change are felt by everyone and the social divide is widening. The characters are complex and flawed, each with their own motivations and secrets. Alice is a relatable and sympathetic anti-heroine who struggles with her identity, her sanity, and her choices. Simp is a witty and wicked foil who challenges Alice and the reader to question their assumptions and ethics. Erika is a formidable and frightening villain who is willing to do anything to achieve her goals.

She's A Killer is a brilliant and bizarre novel that offers a fresh and provocative perspective on the issues of our time. It is a book that will make you laugh, gasp, and think. It is a book that will stay with you long after you finish it.

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In a Nutshell: A dystopian cli-fi satire that is wacky in myriad ways. If you go in with the right expectations, you might enjoy the book. Just be prepared for a slow start. Not a thriller!

Plot Preview:
Wellington, sometime in the future. Thirty-seven-year-old Alice, who has an IQ of 159 (missing the ‘genius’ mark by just 1 point), is stuck in a dead-end job and frustrated of the change wrought about by the climate change. The situation is worsened by the wealthy immigrants – ‘wealthugees’ – who are flocking to New Zealand and affecting the local economy by purchasing land and driving up prices, making the situation worse for residents. But Alice is a slacker, and does nothing to change the situation except complain.
When one hot wealthugee asks Alice to take care of his fifteen-year-old daughter Erika for a few days in exchange for a large sum, Alice readily quits her job. But she doesn’t realise that Erika is a fellow genius, and carries many more secrets. Alice’s life isn’t going to be the same anymore.
The story comes to us in the first person perspective of Alice.

Bookish Yays:
🍓 The dystopian world: So like the usual dystopia we read and yet so very different! We hear of the climate crisis and see the impact of the ‘wealthugees’, but instead of making the dystopia the prominent feature, it serves only as the foundation for the main plot.
🍓 Alice: Alice is unlikeable to the core yet it is tough to hate her because of the writing. An excellently sketched character whose sarcastic remarks make the narration entertaining.
🍓 Simp: Alice’s imaginary friend and master of retorts. Loved “her”!
🍓 The ‘wealthugee’ concept: Ridiculous to the point of being believable! Enjoyed the upside-down take on “privileged refugees”. It was all very clever!
🍓 The satirical elements: A lot of the plot left me wondering whether to laugh or to be horrified. Satire at its best!
🍓 The New Zealand setting: The location cant be used in the typical sense as this is a futuristic tale. But the author still manages a accurate portrayal of what could be dystopian NZ.
🍓 The indigenous Maori rep in the plot: So twisted and yet so clever!

Bookish Mixed Bags:
🍍Needs a lot of patience at the start because Alice’s first person narrative sounds like an endless bitchy ramble and is terribly slow. But once you begin to see where the plot is going (which is around the halfway mark), the build-up makes sense.
🍍The title tells you that “she’s a killer”. But it takes a long time to understand the validity of this claim in context of the book.
🍍The proceedings are outrageous! This shouldn’t be said as the book is meant to be a satire, but better to go in prepared for bizarre developments that come out of nowhere. This does work for the book, but will it work for every reader?

Bookish Nays:
🍊 Alice doesn’t sound like someone in her late thirties; her narration is almost YA in style. This could be because of her sheltered life and self-absorbed life choices, but it still feels odd.

All in all, I felt like I would hate this book until about the one-third mark, it was so amorphous until then. But once the story threads started coming together, I began to enjoy it better.

Definitely recommended, but to only a specific set of readers. This is a very intelligent novel that might be a tad too esoteric for typical dystopian fiction fans. But if you are fond of satire or dark humour, this ought to be on your reading list. It is a go-with-the-flow kind of story, so don’t overthink; just enjoy the ride.

This is promoted as a “satirical dystopian cli-fi thriller”, but it is more like a ‘literary thriller’, so you will be on a slowburn journey to the thrills. Not for those who want believable plots or likeable characters or clean content or fast-paced writing or happy stories.

3.75 stars.

My thanks to NetGalley, Gallic Books for the DRC, and Bolinda Audio for the ALC of “She's a Killer”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

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This is a smart, surreal and utterly compelling novel from someone who has a sharp sense of humour and a wonderful turn of phrase. I raced through it, often wondering what I was reading, but loving every minute.

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I don't often read New Zealand authors, but when I do it is always excellent. Eleanor Catton of course, Kate Mansfield, Catherine Chidgey and the wonderful Aūe by Becky Manawatu.

She's a Killer is a very original novel with a delightfully quirky first person narrator (Alice) and an unexpectedly intricate plot. It is blurbed by Eleanor Catton and I see some parallels with Birnam Wood, in particular the eco-warrior plot. But this is much more satirical and playful.

It is set in the near future, the climate crisis has hit a tipping point and New Zealand has become one of the few safe havens where the world's richest flock to buy up land and find shelter, creating a divided society between struggling natives and rich 'wealthugees'.

A fun, smart and quick read, that works really well as an audiobook too.

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She's a Killer is a hilarious romp of a story, set in a futuristic New Zealand. The world is going to pot and NZ is the closest thing to safe haven, leading to an influx of 'wealthugees' into the island.

The novel follows protagonist Alice as her world is turned upside down when she meets Pablo, and by extension, his daughter Erika. Alice, despite her 159 IQ, lives a simple life, maintaining a terrible job to keep enough money coming in to support her fairly low-maintenance lifestyle. Erika's arrival in her life is just the beginning of a tumultuous adventure for Alice, involving murder, lies and dangerous behaviour. A wild ride that she never asked for but can't seem to escape, Alice recounts the story in a very comedic and sarcastic manner. The writing is very witty and the characters are really realistic - I found myself sincerely disliking Alice for most of the novel which is one of my favorite things about it.

Highly recommend if you're into the cli-fi genre, although I did feel that it was missing a little more background info about the state of the climate crisis and the movement that Erika is a part of. But overall it was a pacey story and kept me interested!

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Usually I am not a fan of dystopian novels but I really enjoyed reading 'She's A Killer' by Kirsten McDougall. It is funny and entertaining but also dark at times, all in all very cleverly written. The main character Alice is a 37 year old who has a very high IQ and an invisible friend. When Alice meets the wealthugee Pablo the storyline turns into a rollercoaster.
This satirical dystopian cli-fi (climate fiction) thriller was longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award 2023.
Thanks so much to @netgalley and @gallicbooks for my eARC. I am looking forward to discovering more works from Kirsten McDougall

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I really wanted to like this book but for me it just fell a bit flat unfortunately. I did enjoy the main character, her humour and sarcasm really was right up my street in terms of characters I'm drawn to. I felt there were quite a few similarities between the main character and Rhiannon from the Sweet Pea series. While the story was engaging, for a book called 'she's a killer' there wasn't a hint of who was a killer until I was 50% through. Gutted I didn't enjoy this more but happy I read till the end!

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There are a lot of things to like about this book. The apocalyptic aspects feel familiar as you read through it, lending a familiarity to the authors created world which might add to the sense of unease that readers feel. Additionally, I loved how completely average Alice was, and her numb ambivalence to the world was frustrating but relatable. Additionally, I thought the story itself was wickedly creative with some valuable social commentary on the impact of socioeconomic inequality in a warming global climate with an interesting application of utilitarian ethics. However, overall I had a tough time reading this book. By the time I finished, I personally had some reservations.

I think my difficulties reading the story began as the plot began to truly take off towards the second half of the book. It became more and more difficult to find any likeable character, any character to ground me as a reader, someone I could root for. I just felt a sense of dread continuing to creep up on me the farther in I got. Normally I don't have much of a problem with unlikeable characters, but if the characters are entirely unlikable, they need to be well developed and I need to be able to understand their motivations. This brings me to my other critque of this story. I felt the plot began to lose it's believability the further into the story I got... No longer could I really understand the progression of events or the characters true motivations.

There are for sure people who will pick up this story and absolutely love it. But, in the end, I just don't think it was quite my cup of tea.

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I have mixed feelings about this one. It was smart, occasionally funny, unusual and original. I also liked the social and political criticism. But the main characters didn’t convince me and around two thirds in I thought things were getting kind of ridiculous. I see that a great many people loved this, but in the end I’m afraid this wasn’t for me.
Thank you Gallic Books and Netgalley for the advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Not what I was expecting, and at first it kept me intrigued, but ultimately I didn't end up enjoying it. I didn't like any of the characters, and I found the ending to be rushed with its change of pace compared to the first half of the book.

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Fun and entertaining read, in the same area as Birnam Wood, but for me much more readable. The premise of the book is original and the satire hits its target every time. It is clever, and reading this has inspired me to put Kirsten McDougall's other novel on my TBR pile. This is a book that I would recommend to anyone looking for something for a Gen Z with a short attention span.

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dnf at 16% (for now... might go back to it sometime) i've been reading this book on and off and it's taking me so long. these first few chapters do sound interesting but don't read like what i signed up for and it's making it hard for me to continue. though i can say i definitely would enjoy this in audiobook.
still, thank you so much for the copy!

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Alice lives in a future dystopian New Zealand. She is an almost genius but has spent the last 15 years working as a clerk in a university admissions centre. When we first meet her, her childhood imaginary friend, Simp, has suddenly returned. Alice is happy to admit that she lacks empathy. Maybe that's why she was never like other kids and never fitted in. Alice has one real friend, Amy. She and Amy have had a very complicated relationship. But not as weird as that of Alice and her mother. They each live on a separate level of their two storey house and communicate only by Morse code.

In the background climate change is causing havoc all over the world, the historical highly ethical New Zealand has been selling off public/Maori land to the wealthugees - those who can buy their way in. Alice can only afford a sink full of water a day and many foods are just impossible to source, let alone afford.

Alice responds to her situation by being manipulative, deceitful and downright abusive. And then suddenly she is caught up with a group of activists who will stop at nothing to change the world and Alice's life changes completely. She can no longer coast: she must make choices. And those choices affect her future and that of her country.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought the quality of the writing was excellent but be warned - if you don't like strong language this book is not for you. On the other hand the sound of New Zealand rings through every page. Plus, in spite of the subject, it is full of Kiwi humour. I laughed out loud on several occasions. The characters, likeable or not, are absolutely recognisable and the writer does a great job of poking sharpened sticks into them for our enjoyment.

I look forward to reading more from this author. Highly recommended.

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I'm not sure how to even start pulling my thoughts together about She's a Killer. To call it an "enjoyable" read feels false, as it made me feel intensely uncomfortable at points (definitely its purpose), but I was utterly riveted throughout. The blurb calls this a "satirical dystopian cli-fi thriller", and the book melds all of these separate aspects together well - there's a brilliant dark humour throughout, so the reader is chuckling whilst being apalled. More world-building would be thoroughly out of character for our protagonist and POV-character Alice, but as someone who is primarily a scifi reader I still found the little snippets of information about this world so close to our own really intriguing. I'm keen to read more from Kirsten McDougall, and I think She's a Killer wills stay with me for quite a while.

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I’m in the minority but I didn’t love this. I didn’t love the dark, dry humor of the main character and found her very unlikeable. This was a miss for me, but I enjoyed the sci-fi dystopian elements!
Thanks to Netgalley for the eARC!

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