Genome by Gary Alan Henson

Genome by Gary Alan Henson(Cover picture courtesy of Createspace.)

Jack Thomas is amazed to find himself heading the company of his dreams, nestled in the high-tech backdrop of beautiful Boulder, Colorado.

Built with his best friend and partner Frankie, the bio-genetics company has achieved success far beyond their wildest dreams.  The company is poised to revolutionize the treatment of cancer and other diseases.

The only thing missing is Jack’s highschool sweetheart, Emily, who was brutally murdered, her killer never found.

With the help of PIP, a sexy artificial intelligent assistant, and beautiful green-eyed psychic, Samantha, Jack risks his life using the latest genetic technology to delve into a terrifying world of spirits that he didn’t even know existed.

Genome explores the boundaries between what we can create and what we may never fully understand—science and the afterlife, chance and destiny, and a love that crosses the chasm of life and death.

[Full disclosure: Gary Alan Henson sent me a free print copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.]

First off, I absolutely loved the blend of science and magic in Genome.  Science has never been my strongest area, so I won’t even begin to pretend to understand half of the technical information Gary Henson included in his debut novel.  However, the spirit world that Samantha and Jack encounter is very well-developed and is an interesting contrast to the logical, scientific parts of the novel.  It’s not very often that you see a novel where there’s both science fiction and a bit of fantasy, but this odd combination works very well in Genome.  If you’re a real science fiction lover, this book is perfect for you because of the insane amount of research Gary Henson obviously did to bring Jack and Frankie’s futuristic company to life.

The main characters like Samantha, Jack and Frankie were very well fleshed out.  This was definitely helped by the fact that we got to look inside all of their heads, which also helped move the plot along.  There were no sections that really dragged in the book because we could see the motivations and thoughts of all the major characters.  Combined with some amazing plot twists, this made for a really fast-paced read.

However, I don’t feel that the characters lived up to their full potential because of the point of view Gary Henson chose.  Genome is told in a sort of third person omniscient present tense, meaning that the narrative is in third person and switches between characters frequently but is also told in present tense (i.e.: he goes to the supermarket and picks out a nice fresh apple).  This isn’t so much confusing as it is irritating at points because we are being told what happens rather than being shown.

I think part of the problem with the writing was that this was Gary Henson’s first novel.  Now don’t get me wrong—it’s very good for a first novel—but I don’t think it lived up to its full potential.  The writing wasn’t as polished as it could have been, some of the dialogue was stiff and there were some minor typos (mainly missing quotation marks).

Still, the plot twists, great world-building, realistic characters and the amazing amount of research that went into Genome suggest that we’ll see even better things from Mr. Henson in the future.

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

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