I don’t know why but when you mix science and literature it almost always creates something fun and fabulous. Emily Suvada’s ‘This Mortal Coil’ is no exception and this sci-fi take on a futuristic post-apocalyptic world had me hooked.
Author: Emily Suvada
Publication date: November 2017
Pages: by Simon Pulse
Blurb: Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. 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, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.
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.
Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?
Firstly, a very big thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book was intelligently written, flawlessly researched and was one of those books that wormed its way into my thoughts between reading sessions. If you’ve got a geeky side and like an impulsive and conflicted female protagonist you should definitely add it to your reading pile.
First of all, Cat, our heroine (and daughter of a tech genius), and I share a name – usually I would expect this connection to put me off (characters with names of people I know do it too, clearly I am not imaginative enough some days) – thankfully I didn’t find this with Suvada’s novel and I really felt she was well explored as a character. She was complex, driven, flawed and fiercely intelligent. The only part of her arc that bugged me was when her intelligence and knowledge was ‘justified’ by a plot detail that insinuated it was not her own making. I’ll hold back, maybe it’ll be remedied in the sequel.
Additional characters were stoic and unpredictable .I’m pleased to say that the plot surprised me, I don’t know if I was just missing all the hints and missed the queue but there was a plot twist (more than one actually) and I will admit I did not see it coming. There were elements of what was revealed that I suspected but I missed a huge reveal – it was genius too. Perspective plays a huge role in the story’s unravelling and the authors manipulation of the world through Cat’s eyes was spectacularly played off. She was able to reflect on herself too, at one point, in an unbiased way and looking back at it, it’s wonderfully done. I don’t want to give away too much but if you read it I think you’ll get what I mean. There were no unexplained plot faults (that I could see) and Cat’s decisions were always suited to her character and her character’s experience.
The factual scientific content of this book has been heralded as accurate and well balanced with the sci-fi elements. Whilst I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on the former I have to say the blend of science and fiction was tempered so well, it was informative without being overwhelming and wasn’t so complex as to distract or limit understanding; Suvada clearly knows her stuff. As someone with little to no knowledge of the subject matter I found it addictive and pleasing to read. I’ve not read a YA book with this quality of scientific narrative without what I call ‘skip-able’ passages. I devoured every word; it was well explained, accessible and didn’t seem to ‘jargon-y’ to me. Exploding zombies and DNA altering implants: What a way to inspire science in Young adults.
And the added reader involvement with the pigeon code? LOVE IT. It makes me want to learn coding and explore learning options I might never have considered – I have to applaud Suvada for that, if she can inspire learning in me I’m sure I can’t be the only one. She deftly combined a great story with scientific fact and feasible fiction. It was nerdy, badass, a teeny bit romantic and threaded with twist and turns to keep you truly in the dark. I’d definitely recommend it.
[OH! and being able to tweak your own metabolism and eye colour?! Let’s charge forward into the future friends because I want emerald eyes and Christmas food ALL year round!]
4 out of 5