The Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko
Release Date - December 2014
Open Road Media
Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth
Generally, science fiction is not a genre I crave, yet I was completely hooked in The Genome. Sergei Lukyanenko's characters drew me in and kept me reading late into the night.
Alexander Romanov has never seen such a clear blue sky, it's rather unusual, but he's being released from the hospital where he's spent the past five months recovering from devastating injuries. Now that he's out, as a "spesh," he must find a job with his experience as a master pilot. In Alex's case, his modifications that turned him from human to spesh involved helping him handle gravity overloads. He also is genetically imprinted to make sure his crew are always kept safe.
On the train, Alex sees a young girl about to be accosted by a doper punk. Surprisingly, she is well equipped to take care of herself. Alex helps her escape the train before authorities arrive and then offers her a place to stay. It's clear that this young girl is about to go through her own metamorphosis, and it's in his nature to help.
While she changes, Alex is offered a job that seems too good to be true. That job involves picking his own crew, so once Kim has undergone her changes, he can keep her with him. Soon, he has his crew selected and learns their first mission. It's not going to be easy. They must shuttle a couple of aliens to tour human worlds, and the crew's dislike of these aliens is clear. That's just the start of the challenge that Alex is about to face.
I really liked, if not possibly fell in love a bit with Alex. He's smart, strong, and definitely the kind of guy you'd want by your side. The rest of his crew is equally likeable. There's young Kim, just 14 years old, who is clearly a fighter; Janet, the doctor, Puck, the navigator, Paul, the engineer; and then Xang, the co-pilot. Each has his or her own quirks. As the mission starts, you begin to see each character's personality really develop.There's also the mystery with who Kim really is and why she is carrying an extremely valuable crystal. That might be why I liked The Genome so much, it's not just a sci-fi, it's a very intriguing mystery that expands to many levels, and there's even an unexpected visit from someone any mystery reader knows well.