Review: The Killer App by John Writher

The Killer App: Would You Die to Be Young Again - John Writher

Publication Date: 27th February 2014


Publisher: Higive


ISBN: 9780992837310


Source: Netgalley


Rating: 4/5



The Killer App is set in a future generation where Britain is crippled by an ageing population, and the associated spiralling costs of pension, health and social care. The new Prime Minister, Robert Hand, pledged to strip-search the country’s finances, as well as funding research and innovation, to remedy the situation. He teams up with Bill Haugan, a ruthless American businessman with a penchant for pushing the boundaries, and Janet Icks, a hard-working genetic scientist wedded to her laboratory. 

On top of the snow-covered pistes around Davos, Switzerland, the unlikely trio hatch a killer experiment designed to revolutionise society. They all have their own personal interests in the proposal – Hand wants the public vote for solving the demographic imbalance, Icks is keen to test her research to transfer DNA after death, while Haugan has designs on expanding his empire – yet the worlds of politics, big business and science become uncomfortable bedfellows in a bid to rebalance the population. 

All they need is someone willing to “die to be young again”. 

Experiment Candidate 1456 is a frustrated artist in his late thirties, depressed at what his life has become after a failed marriage. Convinced he can do better, he is thrilled to be selected for this trial regeneration and sees the proposal as an opportunity to drop off the grid and start over. Little does he know what lies ahead… Just as the experiment starts, ethical opponents sabotage proceedings and violently shatter the lives of those involved, while events unravelling from the protest leave many secrets exposed. 


Writher effortlessly plunges the reader into the chaos of a future generation, where commerce, politics and science collude to artificially rebalance the population demographic. Exploring the bond of family, the handcuff of business and conviction of the self-righteous, The Killer App follows the fall out when a social gamble with life and death takes a wrong turn. 


Considering the technological and health-related developments of the past decade, nobody really knows what the future holds. However, a compelling new 2025-based social drama novel introduces readers to a mass genetic manipulation experience unlike anything they’ve heard of before. 

A thriller and a science fiction novel with an educational plot, on the social crisis of the XXI Century, the meaning of age, family, science, politics and business. 

In the most unique of literary projects, ‘The Killer App’ fuses thriller, Science Fiction, education and food-for-thought to redefine age, family, technology and politics. The big question – would you embrace new technology that could bring you back to life for forty years, aware of your previous existence? 



The concept of this book fascinates me - the option to die, peacefully and painlessly, at age 40 to be reborn anew as a newborn - in this age of cosmetic surgery and desire for youthfulness, I wonder how many people would choose this as a way to avoid growing old.

This début from Writher makes compulsive reading. The science is explained well, the characters are complex and interesting and the story unfolds with gripping tension on every page. I pretty much read this in one sitting as I really wanted to find out how the book concluded - what a surprise ending! My only criticism would be that it feels unfinished, but I'm guessing a second book will pick up the story.