I finished this book almost three months ago now (!!) and I still can’t completely put my thoughts and feelings into words. This world is just… I don’t know, but it’s something. I’ll do my best to explain, and I’m sorry it took me so long to actually write this, because WOWZA it’s something. So anyway.
This Mortal Coil is about Catarina Agatta… sort of. She is our narrator, and she’s a hacker. But not just any old hacker – oh no, in Cat’s world, every human is implanted with technology that can recode one’s DNA – which makes Cat a gene-hacker. A very good one, at that. In fact, she’s the only daughter of the legendary geneticist Lachlan Agatta, and when a Cartaxus (the organization Lachlan is forced to work for) soldier shows up to tell Cat that her father has been killed, she finds out she’s basically the last hope to save the world from a terrible virus that results in either death of zombies.
And then the adventure begins.
(I did a terrible job of describing this book but there are so many spoilery things in it that I ca’t really do any better! I’m sorry! You should read it though because it’s super geeky and full of awesome science and you should just read it, okay?)
3 Things I Loved
- The science. I’ve never been a fan of scifi, which is super weird because I love science. But I couldn’t get into space stuff mostly – that’s the brand of scifi that I have the most trouble with. But this? This is all hard science, genetics and biology and chemistry and the stuff I have deep, nerdy love for. And it’s all just SO COOL.
- Cat and Cole. This book isn’t supposed to be a love story. I know that. BUT IT IS ONE TO ME because Cat and Cole were a couple I could root for from the very beginning. I have more to say about this that goes against what some other reviewers have said about Cat and Cole, and you can find that in the next section. But just know that I loved Cat and Cole because their inappropriately timed love gave me life.
- The stakes! Want to talk about stakes for a second? As a writer, I sometimes have a hard time establishing the stakes in a story. What I’m writing is important to me, but I’m still working on getting others to feel that same urgency. This book had life-or-death stakes right off the bat, and I was on board 100%. There’s a virus and you literally explode when you die from it. That’s intense in itself! So yeah, if you want a lesson in stakes, this book is a good example.
So the biggest issue I had with this book came right at the very beginning, before everything had been completely explained to me. Cannibalism. BUT DON’T STOP READING THIS YET. Because of the way technology works in this world, it’s not the same thing as ordinary cannibalism – people who don’t have the virus can protect themselves by eating contaminated flesh. And yeah, that’s super gruesome and I definitely hated it, but if you can get past that part of the very early section of the book, the rest is gold (and cannibalism free).
The other thing I wanted to talk about briefly has to do with Cat and Cole. There will be some spoilers here, so beware of that. But here’s the background, before I go into the beef I have with other people’s opinions. Catarina sort of had a thing with her dad’s lab assistant, Dax, when Lachlan was still working out of their house (before Cartaxus came and took him). And Dax was forced to go with Lachlan when he was captured, because he was also a very talented geneticist. So Cat is hung up on Dax until she sees him again – then she realizes that everything has changed. And then there’s Cole. Cole was deeply, deeply in love with his childhood sweetheart, Jun Bae (apologies if that’s misspelled – my copy of this book was on ADE and has disappeared, and I can’t find her name in any other reviews), but something changes in him when he and Cat meet. There’s a BIG plot twist at the end involving this situation, but that’s the background.
Okay, so the complaint by SOME people is that Cat and Cole cheated on their people. And I’m sorry – but no. They didn’t. And even with the plot twist, that’s not what was happening. Cat and Dax were never an actual thing, and even if they were, it’s not like they truly had a future together – Dax was part of Cat’s dad’s nonsense, and she never would have been able to look past that once she found out. And then there’s Cole and Jun Bae. They were childhood sweethearts, but Jun Bae ran when they were still pretty young. And yeah, Cole was super hung up on her, but just because he finally “moved on” with Cat (this is so difficult to explain without revealing the twist) doesn’t mean he was gong to cheat. People grow up. They move on. They change and adapt and that doesn’t mean that anyone is cheating! There was no cheating. No cheating!
There was a bit of a love triangle, if you count Dax and Cole in that way, but to me, it felt pretty clear the entire time where Cat’s heart was. So I didn’t find it quite as annoying as some other YA love triangles I’ve read.
In terms of problems, the book was very cishet. But I remember there being some racial diversity, and I don’t recall any other major issues. But, like I said, it’s been two months since I read this one and I don’t have it physically in front of me anymore to double check. I should really purchase a finished copy, because I loved it so much and it’s the first in a series!
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good!
- Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!
This Mortal Coil is BLUE. I don’t even have to think about it. I loved it and it’s blue. I want more people to read it!
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review (and sorry it took me so long to write this). My opinion was not affected in any way.