What if technology existed that could genetically enhance human intelligence? What if this enhancement were so costly that only royalty, billionaires, and multi-millionaires could afford it? How would those genetically enhanced children deal with their differences as they aged into adults? How would the poor, unaltered masses respond to these enhanced individuals? These are a few of the issues explored in the futuristic world of COGNITION, an unevenly paced techno thriller with beautiful language and mind-boggling ideas.
Although many are woven throughout the story, the two main super-human characters are Ethan, the genetically enhanced son of Middle Eastern royalty who has no idea of his origin, and Valerie, the genetically enhanced daughter of an American business tycoon, whose past is also shrouded in mystery. How their lives bring them together and tear them apart (repeatedly) makes for a lively story around which everything else is centered. That “everything else” involves two decades of multiple factions intent on finding the missing royal son (first as an infant, then as a boy, and eventually as a man) and the woman who is falsely accused of kidnapping him.
Other characters include scientists, who implement the genetic engineering, politicians and terrorists with their own agendas, the families of Ethan and Valerie, and a poor family whose life vastly differs from the other privileged people who populate this book. The author carefully pieces the parts together into a complex puzzle that fits together perfectly. Characters are well-developed, the story has structure, and the language has been carefully crafted for maximum impact.
For example, this description of Ethan as a grown man after a romantic breakup says so much in so few words: “Ethan spent days soaking in the acid bath of melancholy that leads to unfinished meals, bad-movie marathons, insomnia, oversleep, neglected stubbles, strewn socks, beds unmade, and the cursing of the world and one’s lot in particular.”
There’s much to recommend about this book, with only its deviations into tangentially related philosophical matters and scientific jargon (perhaps both beyond the scope of the average techno thriller reader) that slow down the momentum. With a little judicious tightening and editing for content, this 340-page book could be transformed into an approximately 300-page masterwork.
Espionage, politics, science, technology, and romance come together in COGNITION, a beautifully written, unusual book that challenges readers with its intricate plot and high-level concepts about philosophy.
~Carol Michaels for IndieReader.