Review of This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta’s death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world’s leading geneticist, and humanity’s best hope of beating a devastating virus. Then, hidden beneath Cole’s genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope: Lachlan created a vaccine.
Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world’s genetic tech. But it’s too late to turn back.
There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.

I have a confession. I chose This Mortal Coil as part of a free audible trial last year. I listened to about 2/3 of it but I just found the narration to be so uninspired, all I knew for certain was that this sounded like a fantastic book and I wanted to read it in my own voice.  I picked up an amazing copy from Watestones which had a DNA helix printed into the pages and then put it on my shelf for nearly a year.  I didn’t intend for this it just kind of happened that way, I wanted to leave some time so that the story felt fresh again and I wouldn’t hear the narrators voice as I read – it nearly worked!

This Mortal Coil is a true dystopian future, it ticked all the right boxes for me and I went straight out today to buy book 2 which came out last week.  We are in a  future where the world is split into two, but it’s a world wholly dominated by Cartaxus.  Whilst Cartaxus is never fully explained, they have their fingers in all the pies and in a world where every human has tech built into them at birth, they hold all the cards. In the wake of the Hydra virus sections of society went into Cartaxus controlled bunkers, whilst others like Catarina chose to remain on the surface – they all have their reasons….

My first favourite thing about this book is from the outset I felt like I had an inbuilt distrust of what was going on around the characters, it had a true feeling that everyone was a player in a much larger game. There was a huge sense of tension and I really felt Catarina’s plight, this may be down to the fact that I’ve not read a first person view point for ages, but equally it’s likely great writing. The one thing that This Mortal Coil has in spades is science, and it’s super sciency. There is the inbuilt tech, app enhancement, VR, nanites, coding and everything you could possible imagine. I sometimes found it easier to let those parts wash over me as I read rather than trying to really understand it and get to grips with it. I found myself wondering if any of it had any basis in truth and when I read in the author’s Bio that she had studied partially in these areas I felt a satisfaction that clearly a ton of research had gone into it.

It’s utterly action packed as well, it conveys a sense of panic and chaos along Catarina’s journey and there are very little in the way of dull moments. It’s a road movie of a read, and oh my lord the twists! It feels like a cross between a cat and mouse and a breadcrumb trail.  Catarina is such a great character, she gets totally immersed in what her task is and is rarely phased despite terrible realisations.  She offers fragility too at times which is very much needed to give some realism to her.  Whilst there is a brief breeze of a triangle I’m glad there wasn’t a huge deal over it and I liked that whilst Catarina acted in a way that anyone would who had been devoid of human contact for years, her feelings and distractions where secondary to what she needed to do to survive.

I really really enjoyed this book, it was a much needed step out of fantasy for me and I know it won’t be long until I start book 2!


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