"Nine"

In an alternate world where everyone has nine lives to live, a problem arises. Each time you die, you come back with new “upgraded” features, but you can also come back with a disease that threatens your memories and life. This is the premise for “Nine,” by Zach Hines.

Julian a senior in high school is only on his first life, but everyone else in school, especially the “Burners,” a killing club, are delighted to burn through their lives. Julian doesn’t want to because of his past experiences. However, he has to eventually die because of a government regulation, an attempt to control the population.

His mother, on the other hand, burned through her lives quickly and got the disease that lead to her near death, but something seems off about that. Julian has to do the one thing he doesn’t want to do, for the sake of his family—figure out the mystery behind his mother. He has to die for the first time, and those who have done so never forget their first time.

When Julian finally dies, he discovers the untold truth and horror of the rebirth system. He uncovers secrets with help from others, but will he uncover the truth for the world to see, or lose all of his lives in the process?

Author Zach Hines pulls you in from the get-go with “Nine,” a debut that could go many different directions. It’s a strange book, but delightfully so, painting a vivid picture of the world and its characters. Julian is a fantastic, believable protagonist who faces a lot of problems as he tries to find himself.

Readers will root for him and his beliefs, as they move deeper into the layers of this dystopian world, one that suddenly appears to be close to our own. Overall this book was great with a premise that was weird, interesting, and creative. It leaves off with questions, so perhaps there will be a follow up book. If not, “Nine” is a great standalone.