Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Apocalypse Gene: Dystopian meets Matrix meets Mythology

The Apocalypse GeneThe Apocalypse Gene by Suki Michelle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually gave this book 3½♥'s, but rounded up for the sake of GoodReads.

This book seems to marry dystopian future Chicago, science fiction, mythology, and a healthy dose of Matrix.

Olivya is an African-American teenage living in a future cancer-plagued Chicago.  As the global pandemic rages, Olivya and her mother make ends meet by offering hospice care for what she calls GAD's (Good-As-Dead's.)  The streets of Chicago are nearly deserted; gangs and death running rampant. People rely on the internet for all forms of social interaction, including school for Olivya. Among the virtual halls of her school is nearly the only place she can escape her gift, and sometimes curse, Olivya can see auras. Her vision allows her to see emotions, intentions, and the taint of plague. After rebelling against her mother's decision to start offering essentially medically induced suicides, she sneaks out for a first real-life meeting with her "hot" friend, Mikah, that she met at holo school. Little does she know of just how different, and similar Mikah turns out to be. Can her gift, and Mikah's origins combine to not only learn the truth of the plague but also be the key to stopping it?

What I Thought

This is quite a unique tale, weaving several different genres into a new, fresh story, filled with amusing youthful slang worthy of The Matrix.  There are even mythological elements tying legends of yesterday with the battles of today.  There is a wide cast of characters that seem to turn all preconceived ideas on their head.  Just when you think you know who the bad guys and good guys are, *wham* something comes along and transforms antagonists into protagonists...  It includes auras and psychic vampires, virtual adventures through the internet, and epic science fiction tales including an almost Dr. Who-like whale of a spaceship.  It includes vivid descriptions that mirror a statement on how the real world seems to be flushing itself down the toilet.

There was almost TOO much... too many characters, too much information, at times even too much slang.  It reaches a point where it feels like the story is trying to burrow itself and download into my head- but it just can't all fit in there that fast.  Again, like the Matrix (lots of Matrix-like things in this book) where they shove the machine into the back of your head and download information... it seemed like that feat was attempted on the reader.  The overload of information formed a barrier for me; I found myself shying away from reading because I would have to struggle with portions of the book.  Struggling to understand, struggling to finish.

The ending, without giving anything away, is quite satisfying in that there are no huge cliff hangers, no wondering what became of everyone.  It stills leaves much open for a continuation, although everything will be an almost fresh start, a reboot, of the world if you will.

In all honesty, this is not my usual choice of genre.  My problems with this story may stem more from it just being outside my comfort zone.  It is a fresh, dystopian tale that I could see really appealing to a younger audience.  If you are a fan of science fiction, anime, and The Matrix, I would highly recommend taking this tale for a whirl and see what you think for yourself.

Some of My Favorite Quotes

"Oh that voice so sweet. Rich like the taste of vanilla ice cream, vowels like flute music, warm carmel consonants. She could float in that voice forever and not miss a thing."

"A single beautiful word bobbed through the sea of pain like a scrap of wood from a shipwreck. He clung to it to keep from drowning. Olivya."

"Her colors reminded Olivya of the eager, waxy scent of a new box of crayons."

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