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This Mortal Coil

by Emily Suvada

Puffin Books 2017 paperback $17.99 464 pp ISBN 9780141379272

In this debut novel scientist Emily Suvada has created a dystopian science fiction piece aimed at the Young Adult reader. She artfully manages a complex, intriguing plot, revealing unpredictable twists and turns to create a fast-paced, action-packed page turner.

This Mortal Coil is set in a dystopian future where humanity has divided into two groups: those hiding underground from the deadly Hydra virus, and those trying to survive on the surface. Technology rules supreme and genetic coders have mastered the manipulation of human DNA, but a vaccine for Hydra has eluded them. Seventeen year old Cat and her intriguing companion, Cole, embark on an ambitious quest to discover and distribute the vaccine before the powerful, menacing organisation, Cartaxus, gets there first.

Cat is a coding genius like her scientist father, Lachlan. Tough, fit and fearless, she meets head-on the brutal challenges which face her in this bleak and seemingly hopeless world, maintaining a steadfast commitment to the humanitarian ideal of saving the lives of billions.

Emily Suvada describes the post-apocalyptic world in exquisite detail, with beautiful landscapes contrasting with nerve-tingling physical horrors. Her scientific explanations sound plausible enough to be frightening. Merging the two worlds of computer coding and genetic manipulation, Suvada has created an exciting, charged-up page turner in which the accepted line between good and evil becomes distorted, providing the reader with the opportunity to consider moral dilemmas. This thrilling novel leaves the reader with enough unanswered questions to prompt keen interest in the second instalment.

Reviewed by Margaret McKay-Lowndes


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