Disclaimer – I was sent a free copy of this book in return for a fair an unbiased review
‘Elise stared at the Museum of Evolution’s heavy side door as it closed behind her. It was unassuming in design, unlike the grandiose entrance at the front of the building, but it still held her attention.’
What happens when the future recaptures the past?
In a post-apocalyptic world the human race has evolved beyond us through genetic engineering – and we’ve been left behind to make amends for the damage inflicted on the earth.
The reversal of the extinction of long lost animals is key to our reparations and all of these are housed in the Museum of Evolution – along with another species of human that hasn’t existed for 30,000 years. Elise belongs to the lowest order of humans, the Sapiens. She lives in an ostracised community of ecological houses, built to blend with an idyllic landscape. Deciding to widen her stagnating life in the manufacturing base, she takes a chance opportunity to become a Companion to a previously extinct species of human.
But Elise has secrets of her own that threaten to be exposed now that she is away from the safety of her home. And while living in the museum, Elise realises that little separates her from the other exhibits…
What I thought
It’s hundreds of years into the future and human kind has done the inevitable, and destroyed almost all of the planet and most animals. In an effort to survive humans began to tinker with genetic modification – everyone was dying anyway so ethics went out the window and scientist are let loose. This leads to three types of humans, three very distinct classes.
Sapiens – the baseline human with no modifications and are at the very bottom of society.
Medius – they have 3-4 modifications and every month there is a lottery to let parents have a medius baby. Of course a gen 1 mid is at a disadvantage because they just have genetic modification and nothing good passed down from their parents. But they aren’t allowed to live with their parents in a sapien home because they are still so much better than them.
Proptiors – these are people with 10+ genetic modifications and are the societies elites
Sapiens are constantly having to pay reparations, they can only own second hand/recycled objects and get minimal tokens (money) which is only valid for a month. Because history has shown that if you let sapiens hoard it will only turn into violence and crime sprees. Also they aren’t allowed to be in education past the age of 16 because they aren’t smart enough to learn any more, and history has also taught them that it is too dangerous for them to learn anything more than the basics – especially when they can’t see the bigger picture and understand why something might be bad for other people/the planet.
It really shows how sapiens are thought of in this society, they are a necessary evil because letting any other species go extinct would be cruel. Proptiors are better than that. Also you still need someone to do the dirty jobs that are beneath the higher echelons of society. And if you keep telling everyone that the death of the world and most animals are your fault you will eventually believe it. Especially when it’s been generations of teaching and every part of the society is about how sapiens can make it up to the planet.
The Museum, this place is more than the setting, it feels like a character of it’s own. This museum shows everyone just how much sapiens destroyed the planet, each area is it’s own continent and there is a school trip every year you are in education. Just in case you didn’t understand it the 1st, 2nd, 5th, or 6th time you went – don’t worry you’ll be going again next year to be told how it’s all your fault! But what this museum also does is bring these animals back to life, not to release them into the wild you understand but to keep them in the museum as exhibits. Maybe they do release some into the wild but I didn’t notice that being mentioned. For a society desperate to make up for all the deaths that sapiens have caused they seem to only want to do it on the surface and to be seen to be doing so more than actually doing so. Although I’m sure there are many many scientists who are doing it to make the planet a better place again, an inhabitable one; the ‘bigger image’ that sapiens can’t see feels very much just about putting things on display.
Case in point the neanderthals, being able to bring neanderthals back to life is amazing. Good job science! Keeping them completely separate from each other… not letting pack animals live together and then being confused that they keep committing suicide? Hmmm, I wonder why that is? You only let them see one other human/animal and you don’t trust them enough to be their own thinking being. The two that we meet are Twenty-One (Kit), and Seventeen. And Kit only has his own name because he had a companion who cared for him as a person when he was a baby. But woe-betide you use the name Kit outside of the pod, it shows too much attachment. His name and description is 21, he’s the 21st neanderthal to exist. And Seventeen is the 17th… the baby is just called 32 by everyone else apart from our key team who give her a name. Not giving them a name shows just how little they are thought of. They are a science experiment, nothing more. To give a name is to get too attached. Looking after the pregnant Seventeen isn’t allowed because she wouldn’t have had that protection 30,000 years ago. The Museum is very certain about that, not introducing anything to the environment that didn’t exist 30,000 years ago. It’s the strictest rule.
I really like Kit and Seventeen. They both grow as a characters and although they are only able to talk through sign language they are clear people with their own minds. They might not be human but that doesn’t stop them being people. To anyone who actually spends any time with them anyway. Previous companions have treated them as animals and didn’t last long. Kit’s companion – before Elise – would pat him on the head like a favourite pet.
Why I read it
I read it because I was offered it for review. I was interested because of the idea of different classes of humans and bringing neanderthals and other creatures back to life. Also the synopsis seemed interesting. This is a book that I might not have found if not for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour.
I don’t know what I was expecting from this book, but it’s better than my expectations. It’s a slow start and I was worried the rest of the book would be a slog – which as I’ve singed up to review book 2 is a real concern. But once Elise met Kit things started to pick up, once she meets Seventeen it’s all go and although I could see the sky getting dark I didn’t want to move away to turn the lights on – so I increased the brightness and kept going.
Also I like that there wasn’t any romance plot. It’s a small thing but a nice change. These characters may fit the ages for YA but this isn’t a YA book.
Did I enjoy it? I enjoyed reading this one much more than I thought I would.
Am I glad I read it?
Would I read it again? Quite possibly, I’m looking forward to reading the second one (I’m on the blog tour in a couple of days)
Would I recommend? Yes, and I already have. It’s a different kind of dystopia as it is constantly trying to show that it’s a great society because look at all these extinct animals we are bringing back to life… don’t look behind the curtain though.
AE Warren lives in the UK. A not-so-covert nerd with mildly obsessive tendencies, she has happily wiled away an inordinate amount of time reading and watching sci-fi/ fantasy and gaming. She is interested in the ‘what ifs’.