Robyn Shaw has amnesia, a recent trauma so great her mind has veiled her memory. When she starts a new life teaching at a research institute devoted to exceptionally gifted children, the last thing she expects is for those blocked events to be lying in wait for her.
Plagued by dreams of death and blood that threaten to overwhelm her, Robyn is fragile and vulnerable. When she meets student Martin Oakley plucking sparrows from the air and breaking their necks, she is pitched into a vicious battle that threatens her grasp of her own mind.
Attacked from without and within, Robyn struggles to maintain her increasingly tenuous hold on reality as journalist Mariam Shadid races to discover the dreadful secret buried in Robyn’s past before her friend is consumed by insanity.
Ever wondered what would happen to the mutants at 'Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters' if the government had found them first? Or rather, had created them first? Birdkill by Alexander McNabb uncovers a multi-national engineering program of experimentally created children and drug-infused soldiers. Though this novel has nothing to do with the X-Men, I couldn't help but create connections and revel in the horrifying amazement of McNabb's story of weaponized children and disastrous drug trials.
Robyn suffers from amnesia and has recently been rehabilitated, given the chance of a new life working at the Hamilton Institute in England, a few hours away from London. Robyn struggles to adapt to life with a black hole in her memory, fighting nightmares and visions brought about by a seemingly evil little boy. Readers will sympathize with Robyn and fear for her survival as she uncovers the ghastly secrets that the Institute hides. Even though she's fighting for her sanity, Robyn is much braver than I feel I would be in her situation. One dead bird from a little boy and I'd be out of there. However, Robyn's intelligence and desire to help teach these children, while finding out what's really going on, outweighs her fear.
Mariam met Robyn while they were both being rehabilitated and she became Robyn's lifeline. Now, as best friends, Mariam worries and hopes for Robyn's safety in overcoming her amnesia. Mariam is hired by a news website and is immediately (conveniently?) assigned to a whistleblower story. Mariam is a dedicated, focused, and ruthless journalist who does not give up, even if she's in mortal danger. Readers will be both terrified and excited at what Mariam uncovers about the Hamilton Institute, the genetically altered children, and the military drug trials. Her intelligence and need to discover the truth often outweighs her concern for her personal safety. A little naïve in my opinion, but I'm not a journalist. I am a reviewer who knows how the book ends... and if I could have warned Mariam, I would have.
Birdkill is a book that astounds and horrifies. It's a little different than McNabb's other novels, but is undoubtedly full of action, conspiracy, and death. The plot begins with Robyn's assignment to the Hamilton Institute, where the topdogs of the hidden agenda can keep an eye on her while also ensuring that her memory does not return and threaten their program. Meanwhile, Mariam learns about the Hamilton research and trials from the whistleblower that opens Pandora's box of chaos and secrets. Readers who enjoy thrillers and conspiracy will lose themselves in Birdkill, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. When facing a group of powerful men who live by the motto 'two can keep a secret if one of them is dead,' the odds are stacked against an amnesiac and a reporter who won't let it go.
Rating: 4/5 Cups