Ummmm … okay, where do I start?
We’re some time in the far future. There are two kinds of people … “naturals” and “speshes” – those with special abilities that help them navigate through a modern world. Alexander Romanov is a pilot of extreme ability as he is able to communicate directly, mentally, with his ship. But this spesh ability comes at a cost … he is no longer able to love. He now has a mysterious assignment for which he needs to put together a team, a crew, who will trust him even if he doesn’t give them much information. Along the way, he encounters a teen girl who is an assassin spesh but she might just be more than that, which would make her unique even among speshes.
The first part of this book was moderately interesting and I thought I’d be in for a pretty fun ride. I liked the idea of the speshes – even if it isn’t the most unique of science fiction themes.
But the book didn’t go anywhere! We spend more than half the book with Alexander acquiring his crew and his defending his hiring of the teen girl (with whom he spends some intimate time). And there is a murder, very late into the book, at which point it almost becomes a mystery-in-space novel.
I was reminded, as I looked through my highlights and notes after finishing, that in his dedication Lukyanenko writes: “The author is fully aware that many will deem this novel cynical and immoral. …” While I didn’t get a sense of cynicism and the immoral could be found in his treatment of women throughout the book, this was almost wishful thinking – daring us to be offended by his work. But not for the right reason. I was offended because I didn’t go anywhere with this story.
I do often wonder, at books like this, how much of this comes down to the translation and how much of this comes down to different expectations in literature from the prevailing society. Perhaps the Russian readers of sci-fi would find this immoral and cynical.
Mostly we spend time hashing and rehashing the nature of speshes and the relationship between Alex and Kim (the young fighter spesh). And this just becomes so odd. When we are introduced to the character of Kim we see that she is clearly able to defend herself (it’s what she was trained for!) and yet she needs to be protected and loved by Alex … who is incapable of love! It’s an interesting theme, but I don’t need almost 500 pages to get it.
Looking for a good book? Unless you are really interested in reading Russian science fiction you probably want to pass on The Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Sergei Lukyanenko
series: Геном #2
publisher: Open Road Media Science & Fantasy
paperback, 496 pages