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The Killables by Gemma Malley
'EVERYONE ACCEPTED THAT PEOPLE WERE DIFFERENT PHYSICALLY.
INSIDE, THEY WERE DIFFERENT TOO. YOU JUST HAD TO KNOW HOW TO TELL, WHAT TO LOOK FOR.
Evil has been eradicated. The City has been established. And citizens may only enter after having the 'evil' part of their brain removed. They are labelled on the System according to how 'good' they are. If they show signs of evil emerging, they are labelled a K... But no one knows quite that that means. Only that they disappear, never to be seen again...' The Killables, Gemma Malley 
The Killables is a brave new glance at the conceptual ideas raised by Aldous Huxley's novel 'Brave New World' that shares some similarities to George Orwell's '1984.' This is the story of Evie, citizen of the City. The City is the only remaining bastion of civilisation in a world ravaged by the scars of a long-past disaster. The City protects its inhabitants from the disorder beyond its walls, provided that its citizens continue to repress the evil amongst them. They have all undergone surgery to remove the evil parts of their brains at birth. A City's citizen can easily identify one another thanks to the identical scar they bear on their heads as a result. But Evie is different. She has nightmares. She isn't happy with her lot in life and she's all too aware that she's deviant. She isn't the ideal the City demands. Most importantly... she's not in love with the man she's promised to.
The Killables is set in a post apocalyptic future where most of the world is recovering from the wars that had raged across the planet. However, the City stands as a bastion of peace and calm in a world of survivors. It does so by maintaining a controlling System that grades the citizens within the City, rating them in a series of ranks that denote a citizen's potential for evil (i.e. an "A" is considered the safest and most selfless type of citizen while a K is someone to be shunned for their evil). Though Evie comes to realise there is more to the City than there appears at first glance. The majority of the book is told from Evie's point of view with occasional switches.
The Killables is part of a series called the same name and will continue with 'The Disappearances.'
Click below for the full synopsis (click to open/close):
The beginning of the novel is preceded by a short excerpt from wikipedia that discusses the influence that the left amygdala of the brain has upon the human psyche, before opening with a dream sequence. A little girl is being coaxed along by a man who is taking her somewhere. She's being carried by him, and finally the man announces that they had arrived in a place that was warm and bright. Evie then wakes up, it is a dream that has been haunting her. She jumps out of bed to repeat a calming mantra. Her sheets are soaked with sweat, this and the dream tell her that she is impure, she is deviant to the City, a shameful fact for her. She is confronted by her mother, who informs her that she had shouted in her sleep again, something that angers her mother because it was a sign that Evie wasn't pure. Evie longs to be able to settle in to the restrictive rules placed upon her. She knows that beyond the City is nothing but chaos and her enjoyment of the peace within the City relied entirely on obedience to the established rules. It is established that the City is in fact a portion of what used to be London. Evie works in Unit 3 within the City. Unit 3 performs label-changing which involves changing the designated labels of citizens to reflect their status. As Evie makes her way to the building, ever mindful that loitering was bad, something that would promote evil, she meets Lucas, the man she is promised to marry and his brother Raffy. They exchange greetings before heading inside.
The City's workplaces are always segregated by gender, from the age of eight, boys and girls are separated, expected to be educated and work separately. Marriages such as the one between Lucas and Evie are arranged by their parents. Evie feels ashamed that she isn't happy at the idea of marrying Lucas, something that she feels continues to highlight her status as a deviant amongst the City's citizenry. On entering her workplace she says hello to Christine, a colleague though not truly a friend. Not truly a friend because the City does not encourage friendship. Friendships create loyalties that might interfere with the City's priorities. Evie's work as a label-changer is considered quite a success as working for the government requires numerous interviews and tests. She, herself, is a B (not an A but certainly a good label). An A is a citizen of high moral standing and selflessness while a C is someone who is easily misled though at heart a good person. Cs in the City have to be vigilant as they are in danger of slipping into evil behaviour. The majority of the citizens in the City are Cs and it was Cs who had been tricked by their leaders during the Horrors. However, below C is the D label. Ds are dangerous, deviant. Whenever the System processed a D label it was an unbearable shame for those who receive it, often resulting in a shunning of that very citizen.
Evie leaves work late, something that was usual for her. After all, Evie has taken to heart the Great Leader's Sentiments (a philosophical work expounding on the duties and model behaviours of the good citizen). Busy minds are happy minds. Productive individuals mean a happy society. To Evie's shock, their Brother is waiting with her father and mother at her home. The Brother is the Great Leader's chosen representative for the Great Leader is old and rarely seen these days. The Brother works in his stead, ensuring that the evil that had graced the land before never came to enter the City. He has come to talk to Evie about her dreams, the dreams that have been troubling her. He tells her that he and the Great Leader have been discussing the meaning of her dreams and have determined its true meaning. She is not to fear the figure she thought was the devil. This figure represented the City, taking her from away from evil and bringing her to a good, peaceful existence. She is not the lost soul she believes herself to be. A lost soul within the City though receives a second New Baptism, this being the euphemism for the surgery undertaken to remove the portions of a person's brain responsible for evil. Evie thanks the Brother and repeats what appears to be a prayer for the City to watch over her and the System to reward and punish as necessary. The Brother goes on to mention that the System was more interested in reprimanding Mr. Bridges though, a man who has received a label change to D. He urges them to stay away from him lest he infect the rest of their community. Evie's mother promises to cease selling her wares to the newly labelled Mr. Bridges. However, once the Brother has left the household Evie's mother returns to scald her, berating her child over her various deficiencies, from her failure to attend to the dishes to her choice of a job with the government and even her general disposition.
That night, while her mother and father sleep, she sneaks out of their house and makes her way to a hollowed tree in the middle of the green (here being the British term for an open grass area). Once there she meets with Raffy, who is delighted to see her, having been worried that she might not have turned up that night. Should the System ever become aware of her and Raffy's dalliances they would be marked as Ds, their futures torn asunder.
The next chapter gives some exposition about the setting's history. The Great Leader had been a doctor originally, a brain specialist. He had identified that the amygdala was bigger in the brains of psychopaths and criminals. Therefore, he had taken the logical leap that the amydala was the reason behind mankind's evil and that this portion of the brain had a potential to grow. It is believed that it was this innate evil within mankind that led to the Horrors. Evie, who grew up in the City, doesn't understand how the Great Leader's discovery didn't change the world there and then, that it took the Horrors for the City to develop. The Great Leader's idea had in fact been mocked and derided by the international community prior to the Horrors. Before the Horrors, the Great Leader's work ensured that he was struck off the medical registers but after the Horrors, the Great Leader founded the City and ensured that every citizen of the City was treated to the very same New Baptism by having their amygdala removed. Within the City, Ds are watched vigilantly because a D might be a sign of the amygdala growing back. The label a citizen received as a result of a regrown amygdala was K. Ks are taken away immediately for reconditioning at the hospital in the City and are never allowed back amongst the citizens again. If the evil came back once, it would do so again. This is why Raffy was treated with suspicion as his father had been a K. Evie had been four years old when she was saw Raffy's father taken away. Both the children, Lucas and Raffy had changed, but where Lucas had become a model citizen of the City, Raffy had become disobedient and sullen. Evie had been forbidden to spend time with Raffy, but when she eventually ended up talking to him again, she discovered that it had been Lucas who had reported his father to the System.
The next day, Evie heads off to work and while there, chats with Christine who announces that her parents had arranged a marriage for her. She is delighted that his man is an A like Lucas. Evie looks enthusiastic for Christine, agreeing with her when she states that As were supposed to be heartless people, they should be the very best of husbands to have. As they work, suddenly the computers power off, leaving the staff within utterly confused. A manager arrives and tells them this is part of a drill and that they should assemble outside immediately, resulting in an orderly exodus of the building. By the time she gets outside, rumours are abound that Raffy was involved, that he had found a glitch within the network. As Evie forms up with the rest of the Unit, the same manager tells them that the System was rebooting shortly. Christine shares with Evie that she couldn't believe that Raphael (Raffy) was a B, that he had no doubt caused the glitch rather than found it. Evie tries to defend him, but Christine adds that Raffy was a K waiting to happen. Lucas arrives as everyone is being sent back inside with the warning not to speak about the drill that had just occurred. Lucas mentions that Raffy would be fine after Evie asked after him, going on to mention that the System would keep a closer eye on him. Evie becomes aware that Raffy is watching them as Lucas tells her he would ask her father for permission to come to his house for dinner. Giving Evie a kiss, Lucas leaves.
The next chapter cuts to the Brother as he surveys the city from his room. He clearly is experiencing a very different lifestyle to the puritan-esque citizens of the City. He had been a religious preacher once, though after the Horrors he decided to team up with the Great Leader and help found the City. The Great Leader had been living in what was once Manchester, though then he was Mr. Fisher, formerly Dr. Fisher. Mr. Fisher had decided he did not want to get involved, the time for his work to change the world was over, but the Brother had managed to convince him. Through their combined efforts, the City arose like a phoenix out of the ashes of the Horrors. The Brother's thoughts are interrupted by Lucas' arrival whom he greets warmly before asking about Raffy. Lucas informs the Brother that Raffy was still clinging to his fantasy that the glitch had connected to an outside system. Lucas asks the Brother to give him a week to deal with the issue, that Raffy was simply concocting wild stories to avoid any punishment. Once Lucas departs, the Brother returns to napping on a couch 'for meditation purposes.'
Evie, in a fit of worry over the System now that Raffy is being watched more closely, decides not to visit Raffy that night. She decides it was time she gave up on every little evil in her life and focus on remaining good. The next day is the day of the Gathering where the citizens of the City meet for a weekly communion (not in the Christian sense though). Within the City's Meeting Hall the various peoples gather according to their labels, with As sitting at the front, then Bs and so on. The book has something of a mistake around here because Evie spots Raffy labelled as a C (as if that were the norm, not the B Christine had mentioned earlier). Families with mixed labels congregated together, separate of the broad groups of labels. The Brother arrives and begins to lead the congregation in a series of prayers for their Great Leader, followed immediately by a form of meditation. During the meditation, Raffy starts whispering to Evie, asking her why she had not come last night to meet him. Evie tells him she can never meet with him again, she's to be married to Lucas, something that earns Raffy's anger. As the sermon continues, led by the Brother, the cult-like nature of the City's belief in the System comes to the fore. At the end of the Gathering, Raffy accosts Evie and begs her to reconsider, quietly telling her that he can't bear to be without her. However, Evie tells him that what they had is over, must be over.
Later that night, in the midst of being tortured by her thoughts on having to turn her back on Raffy, Evie is interrupted by a knock on her window. Raffy is waiting outside her window, looking so sad to Evie that she lets him in. He begs Evie to reconsider, telling her that she is making a mistake, that Lucas didn't deserve her, he was like a machine. Evie replies that perhaps that is what they need to be, for their own good, she doesn't want to become a D, let alone a K. Raffy grows angered, telling her about the way Lucas had destroyed all of their father's items because it was 'evil.' Raffy mentions his father was not an evil person, but Evie quotes that the System is always right, that maybe Raffy's father hadn't meant to be evil but had ended up that way. Raffy insists that the System must have been wrong, how else could his father have gone from A to K in a single leap? Raffy laments that he thought Evie would have understood, that she was different. Evie still loves Raffy and says as much.
Raffy goes on to explain that he had found a glitch that had been sending information to an outside System, something neither of them had heard of before, prompting Raffy to suggest that they run away from the City and live together, outside of their home. But Evie is not to be convinced so easily, telling Raffy that had been a child's dream, and that it was time they grew up and stopped trying to be evil.
As they talk, they suddenly hear a noise outside and find Lucas standing below their house, waiting. He calls up to Evie, asking her to tell Raffy to come down to him. Raffy calms her down and tells her that he would explain to Lucas, that it was all his fault. However, Evie tells Raffy that Lucas knew, he had seen it all. Raffy leaves with Lucas who steers Raffy away from Evie's home. The next day, Evie fails to see Raffy throughout the entire day and on her way back from work, she freezes when she sees men behind her, shouting accusations of deviancy. Instead of attacking her though, they pass her and move onto their intended target, who Evie realises belated is Mr. Bridges. The men surround him, angered at his very presence within their City, one of the men Evie spots (Mr. Adams) had once been a D himself, like Mr. Bridges is now. Terrified, Evie crosses the road and rushes to a bakery to try to distance herself from the violence that was unleashed upon Mr. Bridges. Attacks such as these were an accepted part of life, the police would turn their heads at such actions and even the Brother had been known to say that sometimes evil had to be met on its own terms. Even the baker tells Evie that it just goes to show how little you could trust people, the baker herself unaffected by the sight.
As the men start to set about Mr. Bridges with sticks they are stopped by Lucas who demands to know if the Great Leader had authorised this attack on Mr. Bridges. Lucas tells the group to stop what they were doing, that their actions are clearly driven by anger, one of the corrupt values to guard against. The System exists to ensure safety and order, not them. One of the ringleaders lunges at Lucas only to be pinned and held by Lucas, shocking Evie. Lucas manages to disperse the mob, quoting the Great Leader's Sentiments back at them before helping Mr. Bridges up. However, when Mr. Bridges thanks him, Lucas points out that he only acted to stop those other men from being corrupted by Mr. Bridges. Evie spots Lucas pass something to Mr. Bridges, his card she thought. When Lucas spots Evie he heads over and asks what she was doing. She responds promptly that she had been trying to decide on buying some bread but wasn't sure whether her mother would approve. Lucas tells her that she shouldn't waste the bakers time then before adding that he had spoken to her father, who had allowed Lucas to visit Evie again.
That night, Lucas arrived later than expected for an after-supper coffee, something the City did as a tradition. Evie's mother hurried to get Lucas a cup of coffee while Evie herself reflected on the day that Lucas had announced his desire to marry Evie. The look on her mother's face hadn't been excitement or pleasure but surprise, and then relief. Evie would no longer be her responsibility. Her father asked Evie whether she wished to marry Lucas, but this was a mere formality, a nice gesture that was otherwise meaningless as Evie had no choice but to agree. Lucas reveals that his brother was ill, currently quarantined, explaining why Evie had not seen Raffy all day. When Evie's mother asks him about Mr. Bridges, to Evie's surprise, Lucas responds that he felt evil should be fought wherever it was found. Evie mentions that she had seen an attack on Mr. Bridges, her mother stating that the attack was done by right-minded people who were showing Deviants that they did not tolerate them within the City. Lucas agrees with Evie's mother and even flirts with her slightly, calling her by her name (Delphine). Evie asks Lucas if he then thought that violence had a place within the City, causing Lucas to reply rather frostily that he understood and sympathised with the stresses of the City's citizens when a Deviant was found. He then asks to be shown the bathroom and once he is out of earshot, Evie's mother rounds on her and begins lambasting her for being impolite to their guest. Her father suggests that perhaps Evie's active mind was one of the reasons Lucas was interested in her, causing her mother to relax slightly. He then tells Evie that she should go upstairs and wait for Lucas, perhaps show him parts of the house.
As Evie goes upstairs, she finds Lucas in her father's study rather than in the bathroom. Lucas explains he had been admiring her father's trophies. The City didn't have competitive sports or games with winners and losers, such things were disallowed because they implied a subjugation in the idea of having a winner and loser. Evie's father had won alot of medals for his contributions to the City, through hard work and determination and it is these medals that Lucas appears to be viewing, though Evie can sense an undercurrent of nervousness from Lucas and uses it to press him about Raffy. They are both caught by Evie's father in his study though, who asks them what they were doing. Evie surprises herself by lying for Lucas and telling her father that Lucas had brought her there to ask her an important question. Her father leaves with the impression that Lucas had been setting a formal date for their marriage. As soon as her father leaves, Evie demands to know what had happened to Raffy. Lucas repeats his message that Raffy had been quarantined due to a sudden illness. When Evie threatens to tell her father about what Lucas was doing in the room, Lucas counters with the threat of telling her parents about her midnight visits with Raffy.
The story switches to the viewpoint of the Brother once again as he stands to receive Lucas. In the Brother's mind, Lucas is his best citizen, a model exemplar of the standard that the City should attempt to reach. The Brother asks Lucas about the glitch to which Lucas informs the Brother that the glitch was a non-existent bug, a nothing to be dismissed. As the Brother receives the update from Lucas, he comes to think about how Lucas' excellent loyalty could have been used as head of the police, but the technology Unit was the best place for him as Lucas ran the System flawlessly. The Brother then raises the issue of Raffy to Lucas, causing Lucas to respond rather sharply, asking what evidence the Brother had. The Brother reasoned that he is merely projecting his fears onto Lucas's words, Lucas was practically a machine, after all. He goes on to add that the System would judge Raffy a K, that he would be taken for the second New Baptism in the quiet of the night. To the Brother's surprise, Lucas asks for a favour from him, to grant him one last day with his brother for his and his mother's sake. The Brother accepts, pleased with the first human reaction he has ever seen from Lucas.
The next day Evie arrives early at work to see if she would see Raffy, though he fails to appear. She hears rumours that Raffy wasn't ill at all but under supervision from the City's police. She blames herself for not being stronger, for not standing up to Lucas. Returning home, she is surprised by her mother who asks her to help with the seamstress work she has (due to one of her colleagues falling ill). As they work together, her mother raises a discussion with Evie about her marriage with Lucas. She tells Evie that she was very lucky to have been matched with him, though Evie isn't sure she sees it the same way. She's shocked when her mother tells her that she should be thankful she was marrying an A, not having to settle for her father. Evie tells her mother that she should be happy, her father loved her and was a respected individual, a holder of the key. In a fit of anger she leaves her mother downstairs and stays in her room, not coming down for dinner.
Her father comes to her room later that night but waves aside Evie's apologies for fighting with her mother, telling her that the System had discovered evil within the City and that there had been a candidate for the second New Baptism. Evie is sick with worry that it would be her, that they had finally named her as a K but is equally dismayed when her father tells her that Raffy had been labelled K by the System. Her father leaves, telling her not to worry, that he would not look down on Lucas because he had been tarred by association. He adds that Lucas had been pivotal in collecting the information for the System. After her father leaves, she hears a knock on her window and is relieved because she knows it is Raffy, only to find herself opening the window for Lucas. Lucas climbs in and immediately clamps his hand on Evie's mouth, forestalling any attempt at a scream. Lucas tells Evie to listen to him carefully, he needed to know where her father's key to the City gate was. She responds by telling him she would never help him because he had betrayed Raffy, who could never have been a K. To her surprise, Lucas agrees with her and goes on to tell her he needed the key to help Raffy escape the City.
Lucas continues to tell her that K stands for Killable. Every K was not given a second New Baptism but instead was left outside the City for the Evils to kill them. The Evils always came the same night a K was revealed, and Raffy would be revealed tomorrow. Lucas adds that the Evils were brought to the City by the City itself. Lucas tells her that it was his fault Raffy got labelled a K, but not in the way she understood it though he fails to explain further, telling her instead that there was no time. However, when Lucas tries to get Evie to come with her to get Raffy out, Evie demands to know the reasons why. It was the glitch. Raffy had really found a communication device. Lucas, alarmed, immediately questions Evie whether she'd told anyone else about the device, though she admits she hadn't. Lucas had been pretending the entire time, donning a mask to confront the City while looking out for his brother, and even Evie to some extent. He explains that he had arranged a marriage to her because it was a way to keep her and Raffy safe, because she and Raffy could never have been arranged to marry. She goes to her father's study and begins to open the safe after removing the painting it had been hidden behind. Assaulted by some doubt though, she stops and returns to Lucas, telling him she didn't trust him, that she wouldn't do it. She goes on to tell Lucas that after everything he had done to them, how could she trust him? Lucas replies that it was he who had ensured that Raffy and her were never picked up by the System, who had helped ensure that nobody knew about the midnight meetings she'd been having with Raffy. Evie remains unconvinced, forcing Lucas to come clean about another issue. Evie was an adopted child. He presents her with papers admitting the same. It had been a policy after the Horrors to accept children into the City to boost the population. They would take children and give them to families that had none... though Lucas cannot bring himself to comment on what happened to the original parents. Evie goes to get the key after telling Lucas that she would leave the City with Raffy, she had no desire to remain if Raffy left.
There is another City out there, though the world outside is not plentiful in resources and remains scarred from the Horrors. Lucas' father had built the communication device into the System's coding to allow contact with outsiders, something Lucas had been utilising. As they head over to Lucas' house, he tells her how she should effect her escape once outside the City walls. They go together to free Raffy who is tied up inside Lucas' house. Raffy and Evie tie up Lucas for good effect before making their way out of the City. They manage to reach the swamp mentioned by Raffy's brother and continue through it. As they make their escape, they are chased by a dog and then one of the City's watchmen through the swamp. Raffy manages to dispose of the dog and the watchman does his very best to shoot them with a rifle (something that was not supposed to exist within the City), but the two manage to clear the City.
As Raffy and Evie relax slightly outside the City, they argue about which direction to go. Evie wants to go North as Lucas had told her, but Raffy still doesn't trust his brother and doesn't intend to go towards the other City. Later, as Raffy returns from foraging some blackberries, the two of them are suddenly and forcefully subdued and captured. Evie wakes up before a stranger who apologises for having to harm them, noting that they had removed Evie's 'chip' to be safe. She is afraid for Raffy and afraid of the stranger, who she recognises as an Evil. The man though indicates that Raffy is fine and seated behind her, if slightly more injured than her. Raffy makes a lunge at the man only to be beaten down by the man and his accomplices. They start to interrogate the two, promising to harm Raffy if Evie failed to talk. They demand to know what they were doing outside the City and don't believe Evie when she tells them they had escaped. As far as they knew, nobody ever escaped the City. Raffy and Evie protest their innocence in the face of the accusations levelled at them. The strangers think that the two are spies for the City, however, when Evie mentions that they had found a communication device, that this was the reason Raffy had been made a K (something the strangers know of), things change. Instead, they are brought along with the men.
Evie manages to anger Linus, one of the men, when he tries to explain what the concept of law was and she mistakenly equated it to the New Baptism. Later, they are given a meal, something that delights them as the two of them experience foodstuff and flavours they had never encountered within the City. Linus goes on to explain that the chips they had told Evie about were implants Raffy and Evie had in their heads, designed to track them. He removed them so that the City police could no longer find them. They don't believe Linus. Raffy tells Evie that they would escape from these strangers too. From there, the story switches to the perspective of the Brother again. He is talking with the chief of police. At times he is frustrated with the rules of the City because his police force only carried batons, with the exception of the watchman near the swamp who was a drunkard and didn't enter the City proper. The Brother cannot understand how the two of them managed to escape, and he finds himself calling in Lucas, asking him how they had managed it. Lucas tells the Brother that it was likely that the two had planned the escape for months. He apologises for not realising his brother's potential, especially when he tells the Brother that Raffy had no doubt been able to manipulate the System into being blind around Evie and Raffy's meetings. However, on a hunch, the Brother decides to keep the case involving the glitch open.
By this time, Raffy and Evie are only one day away from this other City, and it is here that they decide to effect their escape as soon as night falls. She tells Raffy that wherever he went, she would go too. However, as they settle down at a campsite, Linus approaches Evie and tells her that she was Raffy's protector, not the other way around. That protection wasn't about strength but intelligence. He goes on to tell Evie that Raffy was going to get himself in trouble unless Evie stepped in to stop him. His words chill Evie as she realises that Linus knew that Raffy wanted to escape. Their attempt to escape is accosted by Linus who threatens to kill them if they try to escape again. He adds that he wouldn't let them go because of a promise to Raffy's father long ago. They arrive at Base Camp to see that it is not a City as they imagined. Linus explains that this is actually an army headquarters. No one around wore labels and all the people they saw seemed to be 'alright,' allowing them to realise that what they had been told by the City was untrue. Kept within Base Camp, safely locked away are the Evils... Though Linus reveals that they are in fact, brain-damaged people. Linus sits them down and begins to explain about the origin behind the City, the story being an odd mirror to the one Raffy and Evie knew. Their Great Leader had been ridiculed for his theories, but even then had still pushed on, attempting to prove that his theory worked. Instead, his experiments got him into court, escaping with a plea of insanity. It was when the Great Leader joined underground communities that he met Linus. Linus had a dream, but his dream was to establish a System. Unlike the City's System though, he intended to create an electronic system that could preempt any desires and wants of the people living under it. Linus had built the City's System too, though he had not intended it to become a creation that punished people for their behaviour.
Linus continues, explaining that the Horrors weren't a horror by virtue of there having been a war. They were called the Horrors because the morality of war had degraded, children as soldiers, civilians as targets. Linus and Dr. Fisher (the Great Leader) established the City, though Raffy objects to this, asking why Linus wasn't mentioned in the Great Leader's Sentiments causing Linus to laugh and deride the Sentiments as a complete falsehood. He adds that they need not be afraid, the City's System couldn't overhear them anymore before continuing on. While Linus built the System, Dr. Fisher began his operations. However, every single person put under the knife was left damaged. Dr. Fisher refused to accept the results though, blaming his helpers, the equipment and even the patients themselves. The Evils that the City spent their time fearing were in fact the victims of Dr. Fisher's surgery. The New Baptism was a placebo effect for Dr. Fisher's believers, a small incision on the forehead to create the impression that the work had been done. Linus ended up confiding with the Brother. It was the Brother who came up with the idea of the placebo and of developing a social structure designed to enforce the placebo effect (the Gathering). It was the Brother who introduced the labels into the System. Linus tells Evie that part of the deal the Brother made to take power from Dr. Fisher was for all adults who came to the City to be given to him for experimentation in his quest to develop the New Baptism, this giving the Brother the army of Evils required to scare his citizens into compliance. Linus decided to leave after two things. The first being the 'disappearance' of the Great Leader, though Linus suspects the Brother had killed him, and secondly when he discovered the truth of the New Baptism. The New Baptism was being used by the Brother to insert tracking chips into people that linked directly to the System. The day Linus left was the day the Brother invented the K label as a means of targeting and removing those who threatened his power. He was left to die at the hands of the Evils before being rescued by Raffy's father. Raffy's father had worked out the truth behind the New Baptism by himself and worked to undermine the system.
Linus is shocked when he discovers that Raffy's father had been made a K when he was four years old. Something that had to be impossible because Linus was still in contact with him. Someone continued to send messages from the City letting Linus know when anyone was made a K so that they could be rescued. They had even been told that Raffy and Evie had escaped the City, to which Evie objects, asking why they'd beat Raffy. Linus replies that that had been done to ensure that he didn't try to escape. The two of them realise that Lucas had taken the role of his father, continuing to send messages in his absence while putting on a show for the City. Linus contacts Lucas and after confirming that Evie and Raffy were safe, Linus mentions that they now had a City key and that they would act on it soon.
As Evie sleeps she is troubled by a new dream, not the one of her fleeing towards a paradise with the man she realises is her father but instead a memory of her childhood. She recalls meeting her faux-parents and being adopted before she wakes up. She talks with Raffy who professes his love to her just as she wanted to tell Raffy about being kissed by Lucas before they had gone to rescue Raffy. When she does tell Raffy, he overreacts, pushing Evie away before going out of their tent. Evie remains in the tent for a long while before she manages to convince herself to walk outside and explore Base Camp. She stops at the holding area for the damaged individuals, her eyes drawn to a woman she feels she recognises, before being drawn to breakfast with Linus and a woman named Martha. Linus explains that the City was simply too large to be self-sufficient on the fields of produce within the City walls and that they used the Evils to cultivate foods for them under the supervision of guards.
Meanwhile, the Brother is furious. He has finally managed to piece together the truth of the matters, realised that he had been fooled by Lucas all this time, realised that Lucas had been contacting Linus. He calls in Sam, a technician for the System and tells him that evil can strike in unusual places, giving him a System change that he is to make without alerting anyone, a System change that would mark Lucas as a K. He tells Sam that completion of the task might even lead to the System rating the technician as an A.
It is almost 3pm, Wednesday, the time when Linus and his band intend to tackle the City once and for all. They intend to free the Evils at the prison camp and then use them to sow panic within the City, giving them free-reign past the City's police to shut down the System. Evie is rather affronted at the idea of using the brain-damaged people, but Martha explains to her that sometimes tough decisions needed to be made and in doing so, they would ensure that the City could never again abuse those people. As the meeting breaks up, Evie heads over to the holding area for the Evils and tells the guard that Linus had been asking for him, mentioning that she could stand watch for him. The guard leaves, allowing Evie to enter the area where she goes to meet the woman, telling her that Evie thought she was her mother. Instead though, she finds herself attacked by the woman and used as a hostage as the woman demands to be taken to the City. She is sedated, freeing Evie. Linus tells Evie that even if that woman was her mother, she was in no state to be that person anymore. The removal of the amygdala created individuals without any moral code, the woman had simply used Evie in an attempt to get to the City.
As the band of armed men led by Linus march towards the City, they prepare their plan. They intend to send the Evils through the East gate of the City, creating enough of a commotion that they could enter the West gate where Lucas would be waiting for them, allowing them access without any trouble. As they march though, Lucas is being arrested by the Brother, Sam and two policemen. The Brother leaves Lucas in a holding room with two guards, instructing them not to listen to anything he might try to say. Lucas was to be labelled as a K by the System. Linus' men and, Evie and Raffy are all at the West gate, waiting for Lucas as they begin to hear the disturbance at the East gate kick off. However, Lucas is unable to go to them, being able to hear the commotion even from his cell. Fortunately, Mr. Bridges arrives to open the West gate after a long and nerve-wracking period, having been sent by Lucas. They enter, spotting the brain-damaged victims leading the police on a merry chase, enjoying what appeared to be a game to them. They continue on to the government building, freeing Lucas. Evie leads Martha up to the City's labelling Unit, where she had worked before. They decide to implement label changes for everyone to A except for the Brother, who they decide they would make a D if they found his report code. While Evie and Martha work on label changes, Lucas confronts the Brother, entering his private chambers. He tells the Brother that he had used the System's recordings of his voice to dismiss the Brother's guards. Lucas forces the Brother to ring the Gathering Bell and to come with him to the City's Meeting Hall. Evie and Martha, finished, head to Raffy who has just finished editing the System so that it could no longer track any of the City's citizens, however, to their concern, Linus (who told Raffy he would be back) had been missing for twenty minutes. Martha decides to look for him, giving Evie the chance to apologise to Raffy, telling him that she only had eyes for him, that she'd kissed Lucas not because she loved him, but because Lucas was going to save Raffy. Raffy apologises to and the two make up, their spat ended before they are greeted by the arrival of Lucas. Martha returns shortly after, admitting that she hadn't been able to find Linus at all. They reason that perhaps Linus had headed to the Meeting Hall where they had gathered the City's citizens.
They find the Brother had escaped from his holding place without Mr. Bridges' knowledge (who had been guarding the entrance to the room). Their search ends when they find Linus and the Brother. Linus has changed the plan, wanting to seek some measure of revenge from the Brother but when he reaches for his gun he finds it missing. The Brother taunts Linus' inability to focus on practical matters before pointing at the baton-armed police who have arrived. Evie draws a gun, shocking the Meeting Hall as she points it at the Brother. He first tries to cajole Evie into putting the gun down, then pleads and begs... Then to the shock of the City's citizens, he demands that the police draw their guns, he didn't care if people saw the guns. However, as Evie argues with Linus, demanding her right to kill the Brother, a shot is fired. The Brother is shot in the leg by Lucas who had taken a gun from one of the police during the moment. Linus takes the very same gun and decides to hold the wounded Brother hostage allowing the others to make their escape. Lucas decides to remain in the City though, to help Linus pick up the pieces that would inevitably need picking up once the citizens discovered the System was no longer functioning for them.
The epilogue is another dream sequence like the nightmare Evie had suffered from at the beginning... Except this time it is not a nightmare, it is a good dream, one where the man encouraging her forwards to a new haven is her lover, Raffy.
Food for thought:
This is a story where the main theme, like the Puppet Masters, is about information, the effect that control of information can have and the price of freedom. Admittedly, being a 'teen'-fiction (where the principle characters are 'young adults') it doesn't go quite as far as Heinlein's story. For example, no one actually dies in the book, sure there are people who were labelled K and left to die, but Linus reveals that all those people had been saved. The only deaths that really occur in the entire novel happen as part of the story's setting, during the Horrors.
The citizens of the City in this book live in what they perceive as the last bastion of civilisation in a world left ruined by wars. Their lives are set and run entirely by the System that governs them and by the Brother that governs the System, though of course, they don't realise it. They are like the proverbial frog at the bottom of the well that looks up and sees the entirety of the world. The sky, the walls of the well and the land the frog stands on, totally unaware of the existence of a larger world beyond the wall's exterior. Just like that frog, the City's citizens live a peaceful but ignorant lifestyle. Their behaviour and lives have been controlled not by any harsh implement or physical force but by the simple fact that they have been told that their world is all that there is. To all intents and purposes they experience a closed understanding of the world that is enforced by the cult-like behaviour.
However, freedom is not necessarily better. It is a powerful concept and evokes strong emotions because as individuals, we all consider ourselves masters of our own destinies. To have freedom is something many people take for granted, but sometimes what is perceived as freedom can actually be another form of control with the illusion of free will. For example, if I asked you to pick between a blue or yellow item. I've given the illusion of freedom by granting a choice, but I have presented only two definite options without alternatives, thereby controlling the response.
Moving back to the concept of freedom, freedom is not inherently competent or even 'good.' You see elements of that in the chaos caused at the end when they have overridden the System. The citizens are not jumping up and down with joy at their new circumstance, they are mostly confused and none of them actually show direct support for or against the Brother after the accusations. Life is easier without freedom, less effort is required to exert one's desires upon the world. The Killables, like last week's The Puppet Masters, highlights the danger of never questioning the world you live in.
It also features a small link to the nature of the soul. The soul is a subject that is often separated from our 'chemical' selves. From the neurological perspective, our morality, logic and personality is linked to the chemicals received in our brains and the reactions of various parts of it to that stimuli. However, such a clinical understanding degrades the concept of the soul, something which is seen as indefinably human, this idea that our personality (what makes us 'us') is sacrosanct. You see it in the form of the experiments to remove the amygdala. Instead of resulting in human beings who are now 'good' the operation results in morally bankrupt individuals (who also appear to have lost some of their intelligence too), giving rise to this idea that you cannot clinically remove 'evil' without destroying the 'soul' of that person.
Finally, as a little something I noticed, Linus' dream for his ideal System is not unlike the dreams of the Soviet Union in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The idea that a computing system could be developed to optimise the life of the Union's citizens was part of 1959 in the USSR where slogans such as "Soviet scientists! Raise the effectiveness of scientific research, strengthen the connection between science and industry!" could be found. In some ways, The Killables can be said to be analogous of the USSR. Like the USSR, the City claimed to be an utopia for the masses within its walls but in truth was an autocratic and oppressive regime. The City had itself a wall designed to keep the outside world away from itself, much like the Iron Curtain that descended (to quote Churchill again).
Mind you, only in a minor way, does the analogy fit, but nonetheless, Linus' dream of optimisation through a computing system is remarkably similar to the Soviet dreams of the late 1950s where the long sought 'utopia' was due to arrive (much as Linus' dream was built to provide utopia) only for both dreams to collapse on themselves.