She’s a Killer, a dystopian climate thriller, explores a subject matter that gains new meaning when read underneath a hot, ozone puncturing sun. In the book, thirty-something Alice, a highly intelligent and highly unmotivated university administrator, is apathetically waiting out the end of the world in near-apocalyptic Wellington (with her imaginary friend, Simp). In worsening climate chaos, the country has sunk into an entirely predictable steady decline—Māori land is sold to and exploited by wealthy doomsday preppers, the arrival of so-called ‘wealthugees’ has deepened political divides, and the cost of living has skyrocketed to new heights. The dullness of Alice’s life is interrupted by mysterious Pablo and his teenage daughter Erika, and she is thrown into radical action, forced to address and acknowledge the issues plaguing Aotearoa and her own life.
Over the summer period, She’s a Killer gained an even more pressing significance. The book opens with a hot, pervasive feeling of exhaustion, explaining Alice’s complete resignation to the state of things. The push notifications of news sites, our COVID-related fatigue, and increasingly humid and hot weather certainly can push us into a defeatist, tired state. However, Kirsten McDougall‘s novel moves Alice past complacency and into necessary action (both politically and personally). The plot is energising and pushes the reader from a state of drowsiness into a more promising momentum. In its last pages, She’s a Killer offers up a cool glass of water, and indicates a way to move forward.
“A summer read not for the faint of heart.”