A genetically engineered teen runs from church forces in Zakreski’s (The Cygnus Virus, 2017) sci-fi sequel.
In the far future, the survivors of the dying Earth inhabit exoplanet Terra. There, a corrupt, powerful church has gotten into the cloning business. People genetically engineered using the DNA from holy relics are exploited to recruit powerful congregants, who believe that the clones’ blood contains magical properties. One such girl is Lysandra Tucana, a delinquent teen who has no interest in letting the church harvest her blood—especially when church members reveal their penchant for murder. Luckily, the blood also gives Lysandra unique physical abilities. She fends off a pair of attempted rapists: “The first punch caves his windpipe, the second flattens his nose and sends a pomegranate spray of blood against the wall. ‘It sounded like someone stepping on bubblewrap.’ ” Lysandra escapes to Kanada, where she meets Andron Varga, a prison escapee. Andron and Lysandra have a unique connection, and both want to topple the church. Their biggest problem: a malevolent space virus named Cygnus is working to install himself in the cloned body of Jesus Christ himself. Zakreski’s prose is stylish and staccato, appropriate for the novel’s cyberpunk style: “The squeaky-voiced, freckle-faced girl had been hiding in the back. Not too far north of a hundred pounds, pixie cut, hazel eyes. Cheeks and mouth like Jiminy Cricket. Bell bottom jeans halfway up her waist.” The world of Terra is a compelling alternative Earth rearranging familiar elements in an entertaining way. The plot is a little convoluted, however, and frequent awkward syntax and typos add to the confusion. What’s more, a frame narrative involving tarot cards and quantum pathways calls the reality of the novel’s events into question. Overall, however, Zakreski succeeds in merging the cyberpunk genre with The Da Vinci Code–style church-conspiracy fun.
An imaginative, if clunky, cyberpunk novel.