From Goodreads: Olivia Adonane has it all; remarkable intelligence, stunning beauty, and – as the daughter of the head of the Triad, Society’s top three Human Designers – immeasurable wealth. Yet, all is not as it seems. Olivia discovers a dark secret about her homeland, formerly known as Great Britain, where humans are designed in the womb, and she watches her best friend, Lily, die in a secret chamber below the Triad Building in London. From here on, she has a choice. Will she continue on her pre-designed path, following in her father’s footsteps to become the country’s most powerful Human Designer? Or will she seek to rebel against the government, attempting to expose and overthrow the seemingly-invincible regime so that her fellow citizens can be truly free?
Finlayson’s novel, X&Y, thrusts readers into a society that designs and tags its population, keeping the wealthy beyond rich and the poor barely scraping by. Everyone is designed for a reason, and no one goes against the system; it’s in place for their own protection, and it’s existed long enough that no one really questions it. After all, everyone has a purpose. It’s destiny.
Told in a series of sections, readers really get to know Olivia as she goes from timid high school student to determined university student. Questioning everything she’s ever known, watching people disappear, and believing the worst of her parents, Olivia’s struggles are very real, and though I didn’t always agree with her decisions, it’s easy for me to take the high road as an outsider looking in; it always is. But what isn’t easy is deciding to do what’s right when you know it could end with your death, and worse, the death of those you love and hold dear. This is the obstacle that Olivia is up against, and as she struggles and comes into herself, it’s impossible not to fall in love with her. As the novel progresses, what seems like a lifetime passes as Finlayson weaves together her tale, giving it life and validity. I enjoyed the sectioning within the novel, allowing time to pass easily without any sudden transitions, and for a novel that takes place over a span of years, it was the perfect execution.
What I think perhaps floored me the most about this novel is the fact that the genetic engineering imposed in former Great Britain is actually happening under the radar of the rest of the world. Indeed, the rest of the world, the United States in particular, has continued its existence and democracy much as if this were a present day novel and not a dystopian one, and it was both jarring and awesome when I realized that Olivia’s country was on its own in the technological advances and misuse of genetic engineering. Ingeniously, former Great Britain has adopted this strategy unbeknownst to the rest of the world, and I found that really interesting as Finlayson ties it all in to the idea of world police, a topic that has been in the news much recently due to the civil unrest in many countries, causing the United States to once again attempt to police other countries.
Overall, this was a great read. If you enjoy movies like Gattaka, I think you’ll definitely love this X&Y. Four stars.
I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.