This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (Penguin) ISBN 978-0-141-37927-2
This is a brilliant debut in the Young Adult Sci-Fi arena. While the premise is not unexpected for a dystopian future where the human world is divided into opposing groups, this Australian scientist-turned-author has created a fast paced, deeply nuanced and incredibly believable tale. It’s like Michael Crighton meets Suzanne Collins, with a sprinkling of Robin Cook.
Humans are run by software. Most people just download new patches, which cure illness or fix injury, based on Nano-DNA technology. But a major virus for which there is no antidote has wiped out most of humankind, except for underground bunkers owned by the shadowy Cartaxus company, and a small band of freedom fighters living in remote areas. Catarina, daughter of the world’s leading genetic scientist, is a hacker, stealing technology from Cartaxus and uploading it to the rebel Skies network. When a soldier (Cole) arrives with news of her father’s death, it is her destiny to find her father’s vaccine by decrypting messages left in Cole’s gene hacked enhancements.
The author uses first person present tense, which lends urgency and drama. The detail she provides concerning computer hacks and DNA is smart, and adds authenticity. The plot twists come out of nowhere and it is a book that gripped me to the final line. There are two more novels planned in the series. I can’t wait!