Set in a near future where high-tech, digitally run cities drain the life and resources from surrounding areas, this skilfully written political thriller will draw readers into a world where extreme ideologies collide. From the shocking opening scenes in which Cillian is the sole survivor of a terrorist attack on a metro train, through to his meeting with Tess, planter of the bomb and member of the extreme religious group Revelation, and their subsequent battles for survival, the pace of this novel is relentless. After his contact with Tess, Cillian learns of the shadowy organisation P8 and the sinister Gilgamesh Hospital where scientists experiment with genetic engineering to create mutant humans able to survive extreme conditions. Cillian discovers, to his increasing horror, that he is himself part human, part genetically engineered machine, and that everything he thought he knew about himself is a lie.
Richard Kurti’s screenwriting credentials are evident in the short, tense chapters in which violent action sequences alternate with shock discoveries and revelations, leaving both readers and protagonists breathless. The ideological clash between the extremes of scientific experimentation and religious fanaticism is powerfully portrayed and the conflict is personalised in the characters of Cillian and Tess; other characters appear more as mouthpieces for extreme views and are less believable. Ironically, Cillian, the non-human, seems the most human character of all as he struggles to work out his own identity, showing compassion throughout.
Extreme views and their consequences are presented throughout the book and should encourage readers to think, discuss and work out their own viewpoints on the ethical dilemmas raised. As readers follow Cillian and Tess’s desperate struggle for survival, identity and truth they will also be confronting philosophical questions about science, religion, technology, surveillance, privacy, responsibility and what it means to be human. This disturbing, thought-provoking, modern thriller should appeal to older teens who enjoy fast-paced dystopian fiction.