Trigell’s ‘Genus’ is a (probably) not-so-distant future that divides the world into the Improved (created through changing, choosing and combining different genes) and the Unimproved (naturally born without gene enhancements or modifications). In this world, it is about being physically perfect and created for a particular role and place in society (though emotional and psychological enhancements are ignored); and the wealthier you are, the better your child will be and progress in society.
The premise of the book reminded me of Gattaca in the beginning; but I feel it takes a much darker and truer turn in regards to the responses and methods of human interaction and control to segregation and difference, particularly in trying to maintain a particular level of society and class (if it could be said any character has class in this novel). The story itself is fast-paced, even when it jumps between its multiple character perspectives as you not only try to piece together the mystery of a serial killer in the Kross (Britain’s King’s Cross now a slum for the Unimproved). Overall, I didn’t really know what would happen until much closer to the end of the novel, which is good; meaning that the multiple perspectives make it harder to see what’s coming without being too confusing or overwhelming. I also enjoyed the heavier tone of this science fiction genre and the deeper look at humanity and all its flaws.
The characters were well created and put together. The main protagonist of this novel is Holman, who is considered a homunculus who walks with a cane, has a reddish complexion and a tendency to drool. This kind of protagonist works well, as does all the flaws of the characters mentioned whether they remain physical, emotional or psychological. It continues to keep each one human whether you like or dislike them as they fumble through this world. I thought the characters were all rather strong, whether they were likeable or not, and they helped solidify the plot as well as the deeper tones the novel tried to look at.
This may be a spoiler, so avert your eyes now:
I do not know if a reader will feel the ending is satisfying or not. I feel it fits the genre and the tone of the novel, but depending on the style of novel you like to read, you may not feel content with it. Maybe you shouldn’t; maybe that’s the point.
Overall, it was well written, had strong characters and I enjoyed the differing perspectives and chapters that linked random moments from various characters together. I enjoyed the topic and even the darker, more sinister dealings with humans and their strivings for perfection or evolution (maybe the two are deemed one and the same?). I would recommend this for fans of science fiction and for fans of Gattaca if you wanted to look at a possibly more realistic version of the genetic modification theme.
4 / 5