Monday, March 5, 2012

The Apocalypse Gene Book Review

Author: Suki Michelle & Carlyle Clark. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  Moxie. ISBN: 9781600430954.
Annotation: Olivya and Mikah are two very different teens living in a world gripped with a horrendous cancer pandemic. After meeting in cyber school, the pair begin a chain of events that could mean the end of the world, or the arrival of a new beginning.
Personal thoughts: I feel like I need to apologize in advance, but, simply put, this was probably the strangest book I’ve ever read, and not in a fun, quirky way. I just did not get it. I tried really hard as I was reading it to get it, but I never did. There were just too many ideas that the authors tried to stuff into this one story. I also never got the slang the characters used, and was especially confused by the little cyber beings that stepped out of the computers. I don’t think that if I tried to explain the entire plot of this novel to someone that I could do it, even though I read it from start to finish. I’m sorry, but this novel just did not resonate with me in any way whatsoever.  
Plot summary: In the not-too-distant future, the world is in the grips of a deadly cancer pandemic that has left society in shambles. What were once residential streets have now become row upon row of hospices set up to care for the sick and dying. Olivya and her mother run their own hospice, trying to make ends meet after Olivya’s father’s death years earlier. Olivya has struggled since she was a little girl to cope with a strange gift, the ability to see people’s auras. This power is difficult in a world filled with the sick and impoverished, and Olivya tries to keep her Sight suppressed so she can focus on caring for her patients. Everything changes when Olivya meets Mikah. The pair became acquainted in Cyber School where digital projections of themselves go to interact and learn. Olivya and Mikah formed a strong friendship, and, curious to meet one another in the flesh, decide to rendezvous at a nearby abandoned zoo. Neither of them expect the chain of events their meeting sets off, however, as the two learn the truth about the pandemic and their roles in attempting to prevent the impending apocalypse.
Review:  A collaboration between real-life couple Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark, The Apocalypse Gene contains some interesting concepts but ultimately becomes far too muddled and confusing to be enjoyable. Taken out of the context of the novel, several of the plot ideas have potential. The pandemic that is more than just a disease, the Kindred and their mythical back-story, the ability to see auras, all intriguing concepts that could have been expanded on their own to make a successful story. All these ideas and more, however, are essentially crammed into this 230 page novel, and the result is a story so far-fetched it’s borderline ridiculous. Unfortunately, not much more can be said than that. Although it received some positive critical reviews, The Apocalypse Gene would be difficult to recommend to any young adult reader, especially when so many other excellent books are available.
Genre: Science-Fiction
Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano, Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky, Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts.
Themes:  Disease, cancer, dystopian, mythology, auras, apocalypse.  
Awards/Reviews:  Positive reviews from Kirkus.    
Series Information: N/A   
Discussion questions: 
-       Which character did you identify with more: Olivya or Mikah? Why?
-    Why do you think Olivya was against her mother euthanizing the hospice patients? What are your feelings on this subject?
-      Were you surprised to learn the true nature of the cancer pandemic? Why or why not?

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