Author: Emily Suvada
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Summary: Less than perfect science didn’t detract from my enjoyment of all aspects of this book, which had fantastic characters, world-building, and plot.
“Catarina Agatta is a hacker….but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people [can] recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies…And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius. That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus…When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.” (source)
Since I did my PhD working on proteins that are used for gene editing, I had to pick this up and see how the science-y bits were done. That aspect of the book could have been better, but it also could have been much worse. I’m going to talk about it in some detail in the next paragraph before raving about the story, so feel free to skip if you’re not interested in that 🙂
The Science-y Bits
Almost everything that could be done with science in the book struck me as things we could plausibly do in the future. Some of the details struck me as strange though, like delivery and creation of DNA using nanobots. Currently, we’re working on using natural molecules to do those things and I think we’re unlikely to create machines that can do that better. And there were a few glaring problems, like the imagined existence of a DNA segment that controls traits that distinguish humans from other animals and the idea that we’d have to add DNA to someone’s cells because we can’t edit their endogenous DNA. There was some accurate information about how science is done too though, which I enjoyed seeing in a novel.
The Bits Where I Rave About the Book
Overall, I was surprisingly not bothered by the bits were the science fell short of the truth. The world-building was creative and brilliant and led to a story I enjoyed enough to forgive a few inaccuracies. I loved the characters and I loved seeing the way their relationships evolved. I particularly loved seeing Cat’s technical prowess, something that’s still less common than I’d like for women in fiction. I even enjoyed the romantic aspect of the book. It was convincing and didn’t either fall into any tropes that annoy me or take over the story. The plot was fast-paced and twisty. It constantly surprised me and I couldn’t put it down. It also raised some interesting questions about identity. So, despite less than perfect science, I can recommend every aspect of this book. The plot, the characters, the world-building – I loved it all. I just hope there’s a sequel!