Guest Author - Laura Lehman
In the future, the use of biotechnology has gotten out of hand. Buildings are organically grown, DNA mutations abound, and the human race is in a battle to keep their superiority. In an effort to keep their hold on the top of the evolutionary chain, "true" humans banish or enslave those who are "lost". In their cluster of clans, they keep the wilds of the jungle at bay, always fearful of the real danger that their DNA will be infected and changed by the wild elements, causing horrific mutations. Members of the slave class, known as mutts, are bred to be obedient and docile. Both mutts and the lost are often forced into changing vats, purposely causing mutations.
Genetopia tells the story of Flintreco Eltarn, a young man of clan Treco. He and his sister Amberline often bear the brunt of their father's violent anger. A childhood has illness left Amber looking similar to a mutt and their father has often suggested she should have been put out of the village as one of the lost. Between their father's cruelty and their mother's promiscuous ways, Flint and Amber really only have each other to depend on. During a clan festival, Amber mysteriously disappears and no one seems to care where she is. Scared she may have been put into the mutt trade, Flint leaves his abusive family and sets out to find her.
The driving force behind this novel is Flint's narrative, his coming of age. As he learns more about the mutants he sees that the future of mankind is in change and those desperately hanging on to the old image of humanness will be left behind. This questioning of what it means to be human is a main theme throughout the novel. Although at times I felt the story moved slowly, Brooke has created an interesting future world in Genetopia, one that seems both primitive and advanced at the same time.
Despite the tendency of the plot to wander off story a bit, Genetopia is an entertaining read. The novel is short and the science is easy to understand, making this a nice science fiction title for those looking for something on the lighter side. Overall, Brooke paints a vivid picture of a future society in a mosaic-like story. I would recommend Genetopia for casual science fiction readers.