[I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
A bit of a sore spot for personal reasons as well as in the current situation (long story short, and not spoiler since it’s revealed in the first chapters: man-made bio-weapon targeting lung cells to make them immortal and proliferating, aka welcome lung cancer). But that’s just me, of course, and the story itself was a good read all along, even though I didn’t absolutely love it.
The premise of this novel hinges on the “illness” I mentioned, on the need to conceive human babies with modified genes who’ll be able to survive in this not-so-brave new world, and on that other need: the babies will need mothers, and those won’t be human women, since they’ll be pretty much, well, all dead soon. Quite a ghastly future, this. The story thus follows two timelines: one where Kai, one of these new children, travels with his mother Rho-Z; and one, a few years before that, where scientists desperately fight against time to engineer suitable embryos and robotic mothers.
I must say, I liked that second timeline: as frightening as it was, I enjoyed the technological and genetic basis on which it was built. Another aspect of the book I liked was that, all in all, it still deals with hope, with thoughts about what being human is and about parent/child relationships, and with a deep-seated desire to help the children survive. The world they’re in is not hostile the way it is in traditional post-apocalyptic stories—no bands of looting survivors is threatening them; but it is empty, desperately empty, and that means scavenging for dwindling resources while also being restricted in some ways by the “Mother Code” . For 10-year-old kids, that’s not so grand.
Where I didn’t love the novel was in terms of characters. They’re good in general—they have motivations and background stories of their own—yet for some reason, I didn’t feel a connection with them, or not enough to make me really love them. The children didn’t feel like they were “children” enough, and the world of the adults was a little too… distant?
Conclusion: Interesting story and an overall interesting read, even though I didn’t connect much with the characters.