This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil
This Mortal Coil Book One
Written by Emily Suvada
Science Fiction, Dystopian
448 Pages
Thank you to Penguin Teen Australia
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★★★★★
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.
The earth is a desolate wasteland, a virus decimating humanity, survivors abandoned to starvation. Catarina Agatta is a survivor. Catarina is the seventeen year old daughter of the renowned geneticist Lachlan Agatta, a magnate and former Cartaxus programmer and genetic engineer, now recaptured along with his assistant to manufacture an antidote.

Catarina has survived within the isolated Black Hills, a resourceful young woman evading Cartaxus capture. At birth, humans are implanted with advanced technology to allow gene manipulation, applications are downloaded to enhance humans physically, cognitively and aesthetically. Diagnosed with Hypergenesis, Catarina remains genetically unenhanced, relying upon her intellect and perception to survive. As the pandemic escalates, thousands shelter in underground communities, sacrificing their freedom to Cartaxus.

Although an agent of Cartaxus and a young man with enhanced abilities, disciplined in warfare, Lieutenant Cole Franklin has been assigned to protect Catarina after an explosion at the Cartaxus laboratory claimed her father and the vaccine. Humanity will depend on Catarina.

The essence of This Mortal Coil is genetic manipulation and biotechnology, developed by Lachlan Agatta and administered to infants as nanotechnology. It allows programmers to create applications that download directly into the body, collaborating with our human genetics. Cartaxus monopolises the genetic applications, abandoning and denying survivors essential health enhancements. The airborne virus infects healthy humans, accelerating before causalities detonate, bodies vaporising into a contagious, airborne cloud. Survivors can inoculate themselves by consuming the flesh of those infected, ensuring their immediate survival but Catarina is determined to preserve her humanity. The scientific elements are surprisingly uncomplicated and woven throughout the narration, rather than overhwleming expositions.

Catarina's relationship with her father Lachlan is portrayed as distant and indifferent, a young woman pursuing approval. Catarina begins a tentative relationship with Lachlan's assistant, a conventional young man who also appeared manipulative and egotistical. Their relationship seemed little more than based on convenience and no genuine connection between the two other than her father.

Catarina reluctantly establishes a companionship with Cole and I enjoyed their interactions. The attraction between the two is undeniable but Cole is preoccupied with the former Cartaxus programmer, the mysterious Jun Bei. Catarina is physically malnourished, she refuses to allow Cole to become her saviour and appreciated that although intellectually superior, is never pretentious or conceited.

Oh and those plot twists. Surprised eyebrows for days.

This Mortal Coil is an intelligent, captivating and atmospheric science fiction dystopian. Absolutely phenomenal.

Contemporary Quickies

Moonrise
Written by Sarah Crossan
Verse, Contemporary, Mature Themes
400 Pages
Published September 7th 2017
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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★★★★☆
They think I hurt someone.
But I didn't. You hear?
Coz people are gonna be telling you
all kinds of lies.
I need you to know the truth.

Joe hasn't seen his brother for ten years, and it's for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row.

But now Ed's execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think...
Edward Moon was coerced to sign a confession of homicide at seventeen years of age, legally binding and convicting the innocent young man. Moonrise is a poignant and provoking narrative of seventeen year old Joseph Moon and his brother who is scheduled to be executed in Kirkland Texas.

As children, Edward, Angela and Joseph were often neglected, their mother a verbally abusive alcoholic. Parental responsibilities are entrusted to Karen, their mother's single, Christian sister. At seventeen years of age, Edward escaped the confines of their regimented home only to be incarcerated for the death of a police officer. Edward's execution has been scheduled and despite Karen's disapproval, Joseph begins his journey to farewell his brother. The narrative is incredibly distressing as the responsibility is placed upon Joseph, temporarily living within the decrepit Kirkland motel, abandoned by Karen and Angela. 

Capital punishment is a contentious discussion, sanctioned throughout the United States although abolished in Australia. Intense and confronting, the nonlinear narrative explores the familial relationship between siblings. Edward has been imprisoned for ten years and estranged from his siblings and with their mother absent, Karen has denied Angela and Joseph access to their brother.  

Sarah Crossan is a monumental storyteller and with so few words is, able to captivate and immerse readers. Tragically, poignantly beautiful.



The Start of Me and You
Written by Emery Lord
Contemporary, Romance, Friendship
416 Pages
Edition Published September 2017
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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★★★★
Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it's never too late for second chances.

It's been a year since it happened, when Paige Hancock's first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school and she has a plan. First, get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her, the perfect way to convince everyone she's back to normal. Next, join a club simple, it's high school after all. But when Ryan's sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team, her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?
In the small town of Oakhurst Indiana, Paige Hancock is defined by her relationship with Aaron Rosenthal and the memory of the young, vibrant man. Paige is an intelligent young woman and aspiring screen writer, encouraged by her family and friends to create new memories once more. Paige's sorrow was portrayed wonderfully and meticulously with compassion as she bravely begins to immerse herself in new experiences, reprising her infatuation with athlete Ryan Chase and participating in extracurricular activities.

Captain of the interschool quiz challenge and science fiction aficionado, Max Watson is a compassionate and endearing young man, his tentative friendship with Paige, captivating. Although suggesting a whirlwind romance, the essence of The Start of Me and You is friendship. Paige has a remarkable company of friends, creating a wonderful dynamic between characters. I also appreciated the inclusion of the Hancock family, a reoccurring theme in Emery Lord novels while so many young adult authors neglect parental influence.

Emery Lord is a prolific contemporary young adult author, creating charismatic characters with compassion and endearment.
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