Saturday, 15 March 2014

External Forces (The Laws of Motion #1) by Deborah Rix



ARC provided by Dime Store Books through Netgalley

A hundred years ago a half-mile chunk of ice fell from the sky into the Arabian Sea. The devastation that followed plunged the world into chaos, and caused the US to close their borders - seeing this cataclysm as an act of God - God's Fury.
Secretary Galton swiftly implemented the Genetic Integrity Act and headed the Department of Evolution (Devo). Devo's workers, the Devotees, assess babies for signs of deviation.
Only those deemed genetically appropriate are allowed to live, to reproduce.

Jess is a Fifth Generation, born during an eclipse, in the current stage of evolution, Regenesis (read: eugenics). 
Her mother blames her for the Devotees taking her sister from the family, because she believes Jess is the true Deviant - and what's more, she's right. There is a mark in Jess' body which is spreading, a mark tied to unusual traits she possesses. 
Before she's called in for assessment at age 17, and has her life forfeit, she hacks the system and, together with her best friend Jay, joins the military - the only organization free of Devo's control.

Jess want to be part of the Intelligence branch, but Sergeant Matt Anderson manipulates her scores to get her into his Black Ops team. 

What follows is Jess' struggle to hide who she truly is, while trying to remain alive in the most dangerous branch of the military.

I have a few quibbles with this book, so I'm going to start with those - that's not to mean I didn't enjoy it, because I really did.

Secretary Galton, the woman who started the whole thing 100 years ago, is still alive and well. What? This isn't seen as normal in the book either, but there isn't a ready explanation for it, so it's frustrating.

I really, really, REALLY, hate it when relationships start with a power imbalance. 
In this case Matt was Jess' superior - he was in a clear position of power, he manipulated her scores to get her into his team, risking her life and the lives she would, in turn, be responsible for in a position for which she wasn't the best candidate. Yes, he had a reason for it, a valid one at that, but it's icky that, along with that reason, he was also trying to get into her pants.

But there were a lot of great things about this book!

Jay! Jess' bff. He's an awesome big brother figure, he looks out for her, their friendship feels real! And I loved it!

The other secondary characters were also well developed - actually all characters were fully developed, so hurray for that!

SCIENCE! This book got it right! It's so rare! I have no words... I'm actually getting emotional here... Rix really did the research on social darwinism and eugenics, epigenetics, the dangers of genetically modified crops - which result in a lack of genetic diversity in seeds that could prove catastrophic in the event of a disease or calamity - how can there be survival of the fittest if all the crops are the same? What would we do if a disease turns up and none of our crops were fit to fight it?
The science was A+


Jess was awkward, but likable. She ended up having more and more powers, but never really turned into a Mary-Sue. 
The matter of sexual consent was correctly approached, as were all related interactions between characters. Yes, even though Matt was her superior... I personally didn't like it, but he didn't abuse his position for non-professional reasons.
It was a fast-paced book and a quick read, and I'm really curious as to what is going to happen in the next one!

Deborah Rix's official site
Buy External Forces
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)

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