Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.
That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.
When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.
Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?
I found this book pretty interesting in the setting and concepts, but a lot of the story and characters fell a bit flat to me. Though, I did enjoy the book and will definitely be moving on to the sequel.
The setting is a near future Earth where humanity has learned to cover over our DNA to give us superficial makeovers (such as different hair type/color, different ear shapes, growing a cat-like tail, etc). I found it intriguing the way that people have technology embedded within them and download apps to control certain things in their bodies, like vaccines for viruses and such. And that of course there are still greedy companies/governments in the world, even after an apocalyptic plague sweeps through humanity, that want to control who gets what. Maybe I’m a cynic, but that felt realistic to me.
Enter into this world, Catarina (Cat for short), our main protagonist. She’s a young woman that has been living on her own on the outside since the virus hit several years before. She’s used to navigating the harshness of this new world on her own and seems very capable. She’s also an excellent coder, and she’s not without friends, although they’re more like contacts and acquaintances then actual friends. I liked Cat well enough, I was impressed with her fortitude, but I didn’t feel like there was anything new there. She felt somewhat typical, and I feel the same about Cole as well. There’s nothing wrong with their characters, just that they felt very typical and predictable. Which, I guess, can be somewhat comforting because you can mostly guess what you’re in for.
The pacing of the book was great, everything happened very quickly, there’s a ton of action, and things are often on the move as our characters are almost constantly in danger. It was on the verge of feeling frantic at times. The one downside is that our characters are in so much danger that it feels like either Cat or Cole are always on death’s door. It happened so frequently I almost wanted to make it a drinking game. Now, I don’t mind that kind of drama–anyone that knows me knows that I’m all about drama–but when it’s the same kind of plot device used over and over again in such a short span it stops working for me.
Now, all that being said, this was still a fun book to read. I didn’t have a problem connecting with the characters, and there are some interesting twists and turns as our characters never really know who to trust. I very much enjoyed the characters being on unsure footing, dealing with people they thought were their allies or enemies, and having unexpected outcomes. I feel like this kind of storytelling, if it’s done well, can really keep a reader on their toes. And a lot of that was executed really well.
Overall, a fun read with interesting concepts, if a little predictable. Looking forward to the next one. 3/5 stars.