(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.
Jake’s retirement consists of beer, brats, watching beach bunnies pass by his patio deck and trading wisecracks with Arlo, his pet chameleon. OK, so it’s a one-sided exchange, Jake doesn’t mind.
That all changes when they are conscripted into service for the Federation of Thirteen Galaxies. (Twelve actually. They lost one of the Galaxies but it’s too expensive to change all the letterhead, so there you go.)
Book One, ‘Arlo and Jake Enlist’, follows the adventures of our dippy duo as they are snapped off the beach and into service as ABSs (Able Bodied Spacemen).
[Full disclosure: Gary Henson sent me a free print copy in exchange for an honest review.]
Arlo and Jake Enlist is the sort of novella you can curl up in your favourite chair for an hour or so on a dreary day and laugh out loud over. It’s both a spoof of science fiction and a good read all rolled into one 89 page book.
Now, just because this is a spoof doesn’t mean the characters aren’t interesting or well developed. They definitely are. Jake is kind of a lonely old man who fills his days drinking on the beach and watching girls with his pet chameleon, Arlo. But watch out once they get in space! Arlo develops a great personality for comedic effect and has that kind of biting sarcasm that I love. And Jake, well, what’s not to like about him? He’s snarky, curious and, at times, quite philosophical.
The plot moves along very quickly since this is a novella, so you definitely won’t experience the usual plot slump in the middle. There’s also plenty of hilarious situations that made me quite literally laugh out loud, but there are times when Arlo and Jake Enlist is serious. Gary Alan Henson found a balance between writing a great spoof and writing a good novella—a difficult achievement in my opinion.
I give this book 5/5 stars.