Series: This Mortal Coil #1
Published by Simon Pulse on November 7th 2017
Genres: young adult
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Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.
That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.
When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.
Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?
I am so glad I downloaded This Mortal Coil. I didn’t originally, but I saw several positive reviews from folks I follow on Goodreads, and so I went back and decided to get it. That was a really great decision, because this book turned out to be one of my favorites from this year. It’s actually been a really great reading year and it’s almost over, and this may be the book that rounds out the list.
At its root, This Mortal Coil is about a dangerous plague far in Earth’s future. People have technology panels built into their forearms that are loaded with applications that can cure their illnesses, change their appearance, etc. With any app, you can basically change anything about yourself. This was the part that was a little bit hard for me to believe, and why I gave it 4.5 stars and not 5. The idea that a panel on your arm with wires extending into your body and brain, connecting to your DNA could make any kind of changes that you wanted to, it’s just a bit much for my suspension of disbelief.
But that doesn’t mean the book wasn’t great, because aside from that, this was one of the most exciting, tense novels I have read this year. It caused a major book hangover, and after trying and DNFing two other novels, I still haven’t found one that measures up.
This Mortal Coil is full of twists and turns, opening pretty much with Catarina Agatta running from a cloud of airborne plague foam. Where did it come from? Well, you see, people that reach the end of stage two of the virus explode with a crack, and that’s how the plague spreads. Ew. Then a Cartaxus soldier shows up at her cabin, and she’s on the run. Then searching for the vaccine. Guys, everything you THINK you know about this book is wrong. Even while reading, everything you think is happening is not unfolding like you think it is. Twist after shocking twist, this book will leave you breathless. And yet, I was satisfied with the way it ended. It’s not really a cliffhanger because I got SOME of the answers to my lingering questions, but there were plenty of open threads to lead into the next book. Masterful. You always want to leave your readers satisfied, and that’s why I refuse to reward cheap cliffhangers.
That said, WHAT THE FUCK? Look how long I have to wait until I can read the next book! It hasn’t even been announced yet, I don’t think.
I would definitely, definitely recommend this book to YA readers and crossover fans look for an exciting, well-crafted science fiction novel. Even the romance keeps you guessing. Books about plagues are supposed to be horrific, tense, and jaw-dropping. This one is exactly what it’s supposed to be and more.