Genus by Jonathan Trigell: Review

Genus by Jonathan Trigell

Genus by Jonathan Trigell


Genus by Jonathan Trigell is the latest novel by the British author, published by Corsair. His debut novel, Boy A, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2004, the Waverton Good Read Award and the inaugural World Book Day Prize in 2008.




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 debts after choosing their 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 and the semi-improved with boosted immune systems with the occasional physical preference. Then you have the natural, the unimproved.


The unimproved are the poor, struggling, immigrants and criminals who can all be found in The Cross. What was originally the area of Kings Cross Station in London, has now become home to what is 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.


Genus by Jonathan Trigell review


Genus conveys the differences between the lives of the improved to the unimproved in a completely believable way. It can easily be related to struggles in our current day, such as the London riots of last year and drug usage. This really helps you become 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 ‘baddies’ has only ever 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. However, approximately halfway through it seemed to lose the fast-paced feel. The 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. The issues it raises, the way it is written and the story itself still make it an enjoyable read.


If you like Genus by Jonathan Trigell you’ll love The Machine by James Smythe



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