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Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko
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According to the author, this book was intended as a parody of space opera.
("In the closing section, Lukyanenko hides a sort of acrostic message for his readers: "This novel is a parody of space opera and cyberpunk. The author values your sense of humor..."")

Glancing through some of the other reviews of the book, it's clear that quite a few readers missed the 'parody' element. And honestly, I'm not sure it really comes through. Maybe something was lost in translation? At many points, the book reads like an imitation of Heinlein-type SF.
Having read the author's 'Nightwatch' series (and enjoyed them very much), I trust him that he's intending to poke fun of sexist (and racist) tropes by, for example, having the captain get it on with every female character, or having a black, female, spacer who is clearly the most qualified member of the crew automatically fall into a role of serving drinks. (Good thing she wasn't "a feminist; no one could have gotten her into a kitchen, even at gunpoint.") And that's not even mentioning the genetically engineered, 14-year-old nymphomaniac...

I suspect there are other elements to the humor that may have flown over my head due to different cultural reference points.

There can be a fine line between imitation and parody, and for some of this I think you kinda had to be in on the joke.

I also had difficulty with the structure of the book. The beginning was promising, with a nice quick setup. And then the new captain has to gather his crew. Fully 66% of the book is devoted to this crew-gathering process, to the point where I was saying, "is there going to be an actual plot here at all?"

Yes, there is. Over half-way through the book, there's a murder - and the book becomes a standard murder-mystery genre entry - complete with Sherlock Holmes and Watson. The abrupt shift is unexpected and jarring; I didn't feel it worked that well.

It all concludes with rather a lot of meaningful philosophizing, which works better if you were taking the book as a serious work, rather than reading it as a tongue-in-cheek parody. I found myself not knowing quite what to think.

Many thanks to NetGalley and to Open Road media for the opportunity to read this book. As always, my opinions are solely my own.

( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I received a free galley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

An interesting look on the future of genetic manipulation on humanity, this book builds interesting characters in a futuristic setting while at the same time developing a murder mystery. Giving the reader a fun, fast paced plot, this story still takes the time to ask the reader to contemplate what will happen when we have the capability to manipulate our children's genomes. Will we take that opportunity? Will we intentionally remove emotions? Will we bring about our own destruction? It was worth the read.

I give this book a B+. ( )
  Velmeran | Dec 26, 2014 |
Ultimately this was an enjoyable “space opera”/ mystery. The characters were well developed and likeable, and the plot was interesting. A nice story about an injured space pilot returning to the workforce after his recovery. He rescues a young girl on the street and helps her through her metamorphosis (a time when the genetic specializations that your parents chose for you kick in – similar to puberty but worse.) Most humans by this time have genetic specializations which prepare them with genetic skills to perform specific jobs. Alex Romanov is a pilot spesh – he is uniquely equipped to pilot spaceships. Kim the girl he rescues appears to be a fighter spesh making her capable of bodyguard and fighting capabilities.
As Alex becomes a master-pilot of the spaceship “Mirror” he chooses a crew of interesting characters and they are off into space. Their mission is to provide transportation to an Others (aliens) tourism company. This provides a number of uncomfortable situations since some of the crew have serious objections to the Others and the clone who is their escort as well as problems with the planets they will be visiting. This provides for an interesting background for the story to move in.
I was enjoying it and had recommended it to some friends as a cool space story, when about midway through the book the author got off on a tangent. He got into Kim’s specializations which were much more than just fighter spesh, she is also a hetaera, which is sort of a nymphomaniac. She is in love with Alex because she imprinted on him during her change, but pilot-speshes are incapable of love. The author implies that the only recreation during space travel is sex – amongst the crew or in virtual reality. I was very disappointed that he spent so much time focused on this tangent as the rest of the storyline had me hooked, because by this time there was a murder on board. The other predictable part was the detective who came on board was a clone who acted like he was Sherlock Holmes.
The story was enjoyable and had a satisfying ending. I would have enjoyed it more without all the promiscuity. I received a copy of this ebook through Netgalley. ( )
  Cyndecat | Dec 3, 2014 |
This book is set In a futuristic world where parents can pay for the fetuses to be "specialized." Master pilot Alex, lands a dream job as the captain and pilot of a shuttle. After selecting his own crew, he learns that the shuttle is a sightseeing shuttle for those of alien races. The majority of his crew has a problem with the alien races, and they are forced to work together. Throughout the book the concept of freedom is debated, can you really be free if you are pre-programmed for certain tasks?

This was an interesting world with interesting characters. I thought the overall concept was original and well written. It did take forever to get to the real plot of the book. Once they got there, everything was wrapped up fairly quickly. I do think the author should have let the reader in on the investigation a little bit more. Despite these flaws, I would pick up another book in the series. Overall, a good read. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Dec 2, 2014 |
This review and others posted over at my blog.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From NetGalley: Five months after the horrific accident that left him near death and worried that he’d never fly again, master-pilot Alex Romanov lands a new job: captaining the sleek passenger vessel Mirror. Alex is a spesh—a human who has been genetically modified to perform particular tasks. As a captain and pilot, Alex has a genetic imperative to care for passengers and crew—no matter what the cost. His first mission aboard Mirror is to ferry two representatives of the alien race Zzygou on a tour of human worlds. His task will not be an easy one, for aboard the craft are several speshes who have reason to hate the Others. Dark pasts, deadly secrets, and a stolen gel-crystal worth more than Alex’s entire ship combine to challenge him at every turn. And as the tension escalates, it becomes apparent that greater forces are at work to bring the captain’s world crashing down.

I thought I would have more to say about this book when I finished, but the truth is, I'm on the fence. The Genome wasn't what I expected - I thought there would be some more action, but it seems this was more of a psychological sci-fi. I think there was an overall message about human nature that I wasn't really picking up on.

This book was primarily character driven, and due to the slow place and Alex's constant introspection about every situation, this book felt too long and I ended up being bored. It's not to say I disliked the book - but I don't really think I liked it either. I wouldn't recommend this book, but mainly that's because going into it I thought there would be space fights or something.

Unfortunately I really don't have much more to say about this book, though I will say that I enjoyed the writing, despite being a little bored with the plot. I really waffled back and forth between 2 and 3 stars (sometimes I hate star ratings) because it wasn't a bad book, I was just bored and sometimes confused and this book didn't meet my expectations. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Nov 30, 2014 |
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The author is fully aware that many will deem this novel cynical and immoral. And yet, with humble respect, he dedicates the book to people capable of Love, Friendship, and Hard Work.
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Alex gazed into the sky.
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"Five months after the horrific accident that left him near death and worried that he'd never fly again, master-pilot Alex Romanov lands a new job: captaining the sleek passenger vessel Mirror. Alex is a spesh--a human who has been genetically modified to perform particular tasks. As a captain and pilot, Alex has a genetic imperative to care for passengers and crew--no matter what the cost. His first mission aboard Mirror is to ferry two representatives of the alien race Zzygou on a tour of human worlds. His task will not be an easy one, for aboard the craft are several speshes who have reason to hate the Others. Dark pasts, deadly secrets, and a stolen gel-crystal worth more than Alex's entire ship combine to challenge him at every turn. And as the tension escalates, it becomes apparent that greater forces are at work to bring the captain's world crashing down"--Back cover.… (more)

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