Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

Genus is a gritty book. The story appears to take place 100 to 200 or so years in our future – quite possibly more. Things have changed, and yet, it’s amazing how much they’ve stayed the same. There are still the have’s and have not’s, still the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality. But there is now a new line to use for a distinction. It’s not our race any more or the color of our skin, not even our religion (because that has mostly been wiped out) but our genes. A scientist discovered a way to manipulate human DNA reliably and those who can afford it (and those who can’t afford not to) pay for designer babies; no longer are our children’s futures left up to chance.

The world is divided into the Improved and the Unimproved, and those whose parents didn’t pay for improvements to their genes are fast becoming second class citizens. They are unwanted and underfoot. Most come from the poor who couldn’t afford gene manipulations and the remnants of the religious who believed it to be an act against God to play god with their children. Now these poor are slowly herded into places like the Kross. They are poor because they are unimproved and can’t find gainful employment and they are unimproved because they are poor. Healthy women sometimes find jobs as ‘broodmares’ and carry other women’s improved children to term. Everyone else tries to make do the best they can.

I found Genus to be thought provoking and very well written. It had a mystery that was very well done and that turned out to be a great conspiracy. The underlying story deals with hate against others because of their differences; in the end it was very similar to the Nazis and the Jews, the U.S. and the Native Americans, the Muslims in Bosnia, and so on. While the story is told from the point of view of several different people, the primary one is a cripple, born from hubris. A man trying to make his way in the world the best he can, with what talent he has.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amature woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Corsair. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.