In this debut sci-fi thriller, a genetics prodigy and her mother fight back against a powerful institute with eugenics on its agenda.
In a not-too-distant future in which the Americas have united as one “ultra-nation” as a result of climate change, terrorism, and political instability, Analia Christiansen graduates from Stanford University with a doctorate in biomedical engineering at the tender age of 17. A prodigy who discovered the gene implicated in psychopathy, Analia has earned a position at the prestigious and powerful Lucas Institute in New York—a group that used her brilliant research into the psychopathy gene to infringe on the civil liberties of people who had not even committed crimes yet. Soon Analia’s mother, Branna, reveals several shocking secrets about the institute, including that Analia’s father—who the teen thought had deserted the family—is being held captive at Lucas’ secretive Rosewood facility. The institute’s chairwoman, Katharine Lucas, is scheming to eliminate all genetically imperfect babies through forced miscarriages and other nefarious means, and Branna has been a key member of the underground resistance movement against her evil attempts to create a genetically “perfect” society. Together with key allies that include Katharine’s own son, Josh (whom the prodigy finds herself falling for), Branna and Analia plot to take down Katharine and free Analia’s father. Solan writes in a staccato style that fits her somewhat socially inept scientist heroes but can grow grating after a while. Nevertheless, her focus on the importance of loyalty, love, and standing up for what is morally right, despite incredible dangers, provides her often robotic-sounding characters with some much-needed humanity. As one of Branna and Analia’s allies notes, “Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about things that matter.” The depiction of a quite realistic near-future world teetering on the edge of dystopia should strike a chord with readers.
A science-driven conspiracy tale that remains heavy on substance but a bit light on style.