Genus is the story of a genetically modified England. You can buy beauty, intelligence, immunities, strength and stamina but these perfections don't come cheap. Parents can spend a lifetime paying back the debts they acquire after choosing the child's sex, hair colour, eye colour, skin colour and other physical and mental attributes. This inevitably leads to a new class system. The rich, famous and perfectly improved, the semi-improved with boosted immune systems with the occasional chosen physical preference and the natural, the unimproved.
The unimproved, the poor, the struggling, immigrants and criminals can all be found in The Cross. What was originally the area of Kings Cross Station in London, has now become home to what are seen as the 'scum' of society. But when the bruised and battered bodies of a hooker, pimp, an old lady and moped taxi driver start to mount up, all suffering from similar bruising, even the police of The Cross have to pay attention.
So what do all these people have in common? Holeman, a hairy dwarf like, unimproved man who wouldn't hurt a fly.
This book brilliantly conveys the differences between the lives of the improved to the unimproved and much of it is completely believable as it can be easy related to struggles in our current day. Such as the London riots of last year, immigrant populations and drug usage. This really helps in becoming immersed in the environment Trigell has created. It is also written beautifully, including some really touching and tender moments where they may not normally be expected. For example one of the main 'baddies' has only ever really loved his dog and the emotion in these parts is fabulous, without ever becoming long-winded or mushy.
I hugely enjoyed the first half of the book and felt like it was heading for some great twists and turns but approximately half way through it seemed to lose its fast paced feel and main characters seemed to fizzle out rather than go out with a bang. I am sorry to say, i felt the same way about the ending. It was not a disappointing ending, it just felt demure and toned down compared to the beginning of the book.
That said, I would still recommend this book as the issues it raises, the way it is written and the story itself still make it an enjoyable read.
Buy Genus by Jonathan Trigell from Waterstones here.