About the Author:
David Thorpe lives in Wales. He has written eco-books and comics and worked as a journalist.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3 out of 5
An epidemic is sweeping Britain in which people, particular young adults, are being merged with technological items at a molecular level. The government, struggling to cope, begins to employ ever more severe methods to control the spread of the plague. Bonded with a computer, Johnny Online lives off the grid and in hiding from the so-called Gene Police but finds himself recruited by a girl named Kestrella, herself a Hybrid, in the task of locating her missing mother.
To begin with, probably for thirty or forty pages, I was absolutely hating this book. The prose felt sloppy and obvious, the world-building shallow and full of holes and the whole concept of 'Oh no! What if we ended up blending with the technology we all use all the time!' felt too earnest and on-the-nose. It felt like the author was blowing blood vessels in his brain to come up with a concept relevant to the youth of today and couldn't get further than 'boy, kids spend a lot of time on their phones, amiright?'.
But, I have to admit, that it did begin to slowly win me over. The story of young people whose differences make them feel marginalised not just by society, but even by their own parents, is the story of every teenager ever. Beyond that, the setting of the story develops into something much more interesting, as we see a nation struggling with division and financial strife lean ever-increasingly into the arms of fascism to give it a sense of stability and control. One of the two main characters, Johnny, also has an interesting story arc in which he is constantly reassessing his identiy as the computer in him continues to grow and develop.
Despite winning back some of the ground it lost at the very beginning, that feeling of the core concept being too on-the-nose and crowbarred in never really went away for me. On top of that, I can't say I particularly cared for the other protagonist, Kestrella, even if it was for reasons that were internally consistent with her background as the spoiled-brat daughter of a fashion model.
3 out of 5