If The Genome was not written by Sergei Lukyanenko, it would not have caught my attention. But I’ve been planning to read Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko for a long time, because it sounded like interesting urban fantasy series. The fact that Sergei Lukyanenko is from Russia only increased my curiosity.
Let’s make things clear. The Genome does not have even a tiny bit of fantasy. This book is pure science fiction. And it’s the best kind of science fiction – with believable future and technology.
The human race has long ago spread its wings and left the planet Earth. A lot of planets are colonized. Intergalactic travel is not a dream but reality. Genetic engineering is commonly used at conception by parents. Embryos are modified for specific professions by altering physic appearance and mental capabilities. This genetically altered humans are called ‘spesh‘. I wont go into details here, but there are a lot of explanations about whole process through the book.
Alex Romanov is a narrator and, we could say, the hero of The Genome. He is a spesh and a spaceship pilot, who just got out of a hospital after a fatal injury. The amount of modifications Alex had to become a master pilot is astounding.
“You’ve been modified for gravity overloads?”
“Exactly. I retain mobility at six Gs and consciousness at twelve.”
“And measure distances like a radar.”
“Both distance and velocity.”
We follow Alex as he is looking for a job, crew for his new ship and during his first flight. Since we were present during interviews I felt like I knew members of the crew. Like they are one big quirky family.
After a great start, with a lot of interesting stuff about genetic engineering and Alex getting a new job and crew, the events started to get a bit boring. My enthusiasm for a book lessened and I was afraid that it’s going to be a bore-fest until the end. But then – BOOM – a murder happens. And we get a murder mystery complete with a classic ending where all suspects are in a same room while evidence who is the villain is presented. It reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Poirot.
The only thing that I can say that really bothered me, was romance/sexual aspect of the story. Alex has sex with multiple partners (not at the same time). Sure, he was not in a relationship with any of them, but still… Maybe I would not have been troubled by this, if one of his sexual partners was not a 14 year old young girl, half his age, who hero-worshiped him.
The Genome is a great book for a book club. There is a wide range of topics that can be discussed: cloning, genetic engineering, freedom of choice, love, … Yes, even love. And this is a reason why:
“Damn it, Kim. My ability to love is removed. Artificially removed.”
Her features froze. Then came a sheepish little smile. “Alex … you’re kidding, right?”
“Nope. It’s true, baby. I’m incapable of love. Anything but that.”
“How can … love be removed?” Kim’s voice quivered. “It’s like breathing … walking … thinking … Alex! You’re pulling my leg! You’re joking, right?”
“Kim, I’m telling you the truth. It is common knowledge that pilots, detectives, and tax collectors are genetically modified to be incapable of love.”
Why love interferes with pilot’s job? Can emotions really be removed? Are beings who do not feel love still humans? Some of these questions will be answered in The Genome, the rest are up to us…
In The End…
The Genome has something for everyone. Genetic engineering, spaceships and intricate planets for science fiction fans. Intrigue and thrill of unknown for action fans. Classic detective investigation for mystery fans. I can honestly say that it kept all my brain cells busy. I am not disappointed with Sergei Lukyanenko‘s writing and I am looking forward to read more.
Disclaimer: I received this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.