Melvin Burgess as he often does here offers a serious of challenges. In this story we have drug-taking, sex, death, risk-taking, social unrest and extreme violence. Burgess pushes boundaries again: much of the violence is premeditated and calculated.
This suits the YA reader well: my own research establishes that this genre, if you can call it a genre, is often multi-themed.
The novel is also what publishers might call "high concept". The story centres around Death, a drug that gives users a week-long high. At the end of the week the user dies. The young adults who take the drug also create a bucket-list of many risk-taking activities they want to enjoy.
Again as we might expect from a YA text, this novel is in effect a bildungsroman. Protagonist Adam learns to value life. The ending is upbeat but uncertain. There is hope for Adam and his friends.
Burgess has also created believable characters with whom we can easily empathize.
This is a book with a thick spin and some 304 pages. It has the narrative balance we would expect in a novel written for an adult.