The Kill Factor

The Kill Factor

By Author / Illustrator

Ben Oliver



Age range(s)



Chicken House




Paperback / softback




Squid Game meets Black Mirror in an electrifying new YA story from the author of acclaimed The Loop series. 50 minors facing life imprisonment will be given a second chance through a new reality show, The Kill Factor. Contestants will be led through a series of games, each aimed to teach and reform. But only one will win the prize, while the rest will face life in solitary confinement.

Winning means freedom, and the kind of money that would change everything for arsonist and accidental murderer Emerson Ness. But what Emerson doesn't know is that more and more contestants will die during each challenge. And the only choice they have is to win over viewers before it's too late . . .

A truly edge-of-your-seat sci-fi dystopia with a fresh reality TV twist; Perfect for fans of The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games. A sure-fire TikTok hit!

Praise for The Loop: 'Your next YA obsession.' Entertainment Weekly. 'A terrifying and sinister look into the future that will leave your jaw on the floor.' Kass Morgan, author of The 100. 'Fans of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner should look no further ... Thrilling and terrifying in equal measure' Observer.



From the author of The Loop series comes a shocking yet compulsive novel of survival, determination, social media and reality TV called 'The Kill Factor'.  "Retribution Island exists to reform criminals, and that is what you are." Teenager Emerson Ness has just been arrested for arson and unknown to her - murder. In the police station she is made an offer: become a contestant on a new TV reality show where the more social media followers you get, the greater your chances of winning. The ultimate prize is your freedom and money, but if you lose - life in solitary confinement awaits you.

Eventually accepting the offer in the hope it could help her brother Kester, Emerson becomes one of 50 young criminals making up the contestants of Retribution Island, which the producer of the show quickly informs them is actually called 'The Kill Factor'. And as the first of the six games starts with cameras and drones following their every move, Emerson and the others soon realise how deadly these games are going to be, and she becomes determined to stay in as long as possible.

But it's not just these games that have to be survived when your fate comes down to the fickle nature of the public, and you need to play the social media popularity game. For Emerson, this may be her biggest challenge as she soon finds out!

What a read The Kill Factor is! From an intriguing start, the tension and pace of the novel build up and doesn't stop till it reaches its explosive end! Once it gets going, it is a real page turner and I wanted to know what was coming next! I thought the way the novel took social media and reality TV trends and projected them to one possible piece of future entertainment was clever but also shocking.

The book does feature the death of teenagers during the six games, which are designed to 'rehabilitate' criminals. From the first claustrophobic game (and it really is), survival and death become part of the landscape and even trying to escape the island can lead to death. I found this at times quite shocking, yet like the characters in the book, it is surprising how quickly you become numb to this.

The characters are a diverse range of folk and are well written; teen readers may well see themselves in them, from Emerson, an intelligent and frustrated teen wanting to the best for her brother, to those she makes friends with on the game including confident Never-Again Jones and insecure Tiger, to the mysterious and intriguing Kodi who seems to know too much about the game. I found the character of Imelda Fleet, the über social media influencer-type, really got on my nerves and I disliked her a lot, which is a sign of good writing, while watching the Producer develop into to a darker and more sadistic character as the story progresses was excellent. Sometimes the wicked ones are the best!

With all its excitement, intrigue, danger and death, you could miss that this book does have the potential to generate discussion around the themes in the novel - social media, reality TV, violence on TV and exploitation of children. It made me stop and think about how I use and engage with social media and what am looking for from it.

The Kill Factor is a great, dark and at times deadly novel with survival and the power of friendship at its heart. If you enjoyed The Loop series by Ben Oliver, the Maze Runner or Hunger Games, I think you'll enjoy this novel. It's shocking, powerful and compulsive!

384 pages / Reviewed by Stephen Leitch, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 14+


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