This Mortal Coil
by Emily Suvada
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 7th 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fiction
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In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hac king skills to decode her late father ’ s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague.
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 ki lled, 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 ca n she even trust herself?
I really wanted to love this book. It had so much promise and I was so excited to read it. But unfortunately it never quite delivered on that promise. It was an okay read but I just didn’t love it.
The one really good thing about this book was the world. It was a fantastic science fiction world. You can absolutely tell that the author is a scientist. And if she’s not she sure did her research. If she is, she sure did her research. There are some really elaborate and intricate parts of this world that give it a heavy science fiction feel to it. But there are also some really good dystopian parts of this world. It’s one of those books where society is basically in chaos because of a virus. I love when my dystopia keeps the sci-do feel and I appreciated that about this book. It was an interesting and engaging world.
That being said, I didn’t totally love the world building. There was a lot to this world. A lot of different concepts and technology. Whole that’s a good thing it did make for a world building that kind had to tell you instead of show you what was going on. It definitely had a bad case of the info dumps. Especially in the beginning of the book. I like a complex world but if you’re going to have to explain everything it is going to take me out of the book and impact my enjoyment. Unfortunately that is what happened here.
I think the complexity problem all extended into the plot as well. I never thought there would come a day that I thought a plot was too complex but that day is today. Because there was seriously just too going on here. At times it felt like it was just manufactured conflict to make things intense. While at other times it felt like the big moments weren’t given the amount of time needed for it to sink in. It just moved from point to point so quickly that nothing was really hitting in the way I wanted it. Like even when huge reveals and surprises came around. I was surprised and invested, but then we just moved on to the next thing. By the end of the book I kind of stopped caring a little bit because I just couldn’t devote any more attention to the plot I knew was just going to move on in a few pages anyway.
But I do think a lot of the book was redeemed by the characters. There were some very interesting and complex characters here. Most of you probably know I like my characters dark and odious. That is exactly what I found here. Like most good dystopia there are shady pseudo-government agencies, splinter groups branded as terrorists, and plenty of people whose true allegiance you don’t really know. It made for some fun reveals and character twists. But thankfully the one character who I was rooting for was the main character of Catarina. She was a good main character in that she was determined and smart but still vulnerable. Bad things kept happening to her and you didn’t want them to. She was really likable and made me keep reading. All the characters is what made me keep reading. I wanted to know where they stood in the end.
All in all this was an okay read. I honestly think it was just entirely too complex. If the world was toned down a little bit, the plot was given enough time to percolate, and the characters were given time to develop it would have been great.
I give This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada 7.5 out of 10 stars
Have you read This Mortal Coil? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!
"A breeze dances through the knee-high grass, sweeping in across the water, carrying the cries of the pigeon, the chill of the evening, and the rich deep scent of the forest." (e-ARC p.7)
"Like, despite the apocalypse, I'm somehow supposed to be pretty. It feels stupid even thinking about it, but I still find myself tilting my head back and forth in the light from the naked bulb overhead, searching for an angle that makes me look good." (e-ARC p. 64)
"Most people are afraid of the guy with the gun, but the person they should be afraid of is the one with the genkit cable. It's software that runs the show in this world, not hardware. People like you are always in control." (e-ARC p.81)
"We live in evil times, Catarina. Sometimes we need to embrace that to survive." (e-ARC p. 242)
Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.
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