“Since Claire’s death, Rosalind Evans was, like Jacob Marley, doomed to wander.”
The author describes her debut novel as “satire.” So we expect ridicule or irony to expose folly or evil. And we get it by the “Shovel” ful.
Let me preface my review by saying that it takes some doing to spin the protein sequences of a single gene (the Claire gene) of a single double helix of a chromosome, in which the genes are arranged in linear order, into a 408-page novel, but Ms. Simmon has done it with élan and considerable humor.
We live in an era where a Florida resident puts a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich, purportedly containing the image of the Virgin Mary, on eBay for $22,000; a country where the image of Jesus in a frying pan makes money for Texans; the “end?” times when multiple images of Jesus and Mary are found in pancakes in – you guessed it – Florida.
So, why not non-textured non-extruded protein sequences which spell out The Ten Commandments in a gene?
This reviewer says the “good” characters are beautiful, rich and brilliant (and live in wonderful apartments and have boats). The “bad” characters also have bags of money, though possessed of complexity and back stories, scheming and detestable as they are. Big Pharma, the Catholic hierarchy, the Jesus-TV stars, self-involved politicians, know-it-all IT guys, talking heads whose main qualification is reading TelePrompTers find themselves at the point of Simmon’s pen, skewered appropriately.
Lest we forget the “new age” (pronounced ahhhge) non-denominational churches, the reader will find one of those, too, complete with holograms and hot tubs. No dogmas, no problems.
Simmon is an expert at creating suspense, even in such an unlikely context. This skeptical reviewer kept turning the electronic page to find out what happened next, sometimes skipping two kindle pages in her haste. Your thumb will get a thorough workout!
There are many passages which seem more than a little “preachy” but they are counter-balanced by the poke at our willingness to believe any crackpot with a mission who surfaces on the internet or on a ticker tape. Enter “Starry Messenger.” (Siderius Nuncius by Galileo Galilei)
“We get four million viewers a night; Starry Messenger gets twenty times that. He’s more popular than God. Have you ever had a meaningful conversation where Starry’s name didn’t come up?”
David, husband of the protagonist Dr. Rosalind Evans, says: ““You talk about the genome with reverence and longing, the way some people talk about God.”
The [VERY] “Reverend Joseph Steele, televangelist, rabble-rouser, arbiter of all things moral” says ‘“Amen?”’ repeatedly. ‘The crowd cheered. “Amen!” Steele pulled the microphone close until it touched his lips. “I said AMEN?”’
Disgraced Governor Willard Hitchcock says : “You can’t prove a negative. It’s up to them to provide evidence.”
The “Shovel” Ron Vaniere says: “This is why I’m a legend… as he waited for the photo to download. He glanced at his watch: he would be ready for air with time to spare.”
The Archbishop of Chicago says to himself: “Does the end justify any means to silence her?”And the “Cardinal Duffy’s face twisted into a snarl that sent a chill down O’Roarke’s spine. “That’s how the enemy works. Subtle at first, disguised as something harmless, until it rears up and bites your head off.”
Mick “The Tech” Morrison (who slurps protein shakes) says: “Everybody wants me,” … a smile spreading across his chiseled face. “I can resuscitate a crashed hard drive just by breathing on it, and I can tell a Trojan from a worm by smell. I am the magical, mystical wizard of tech.”
Senator Bosch [always] said: “You had to keep it subtle, he always said, so that the pork would be hard to find in case anyone decided to read the bill.”
Are you getting the picture, Dear Reader? These are characters we can love to hate.
We can feel smugly that we would never fall for such malarkey. Simmon creates suspense, humor, irony and does a good job of spelling out the ABCs of DNA and the potential for its abuse posed by patenting genes and pharmaceutical chicanery.
The writing is excellent and the editing is good. Simmon makes cogent observations about the state of human understanding in the 21st Century, too: “No guile whatsoever. The fact that she was scared made it golden. Emotional appeal was the nut of any good story, and the king of all emotions was fear. The trick would be to dig through the layers, all the way down to the fear. What if this woman actually did find the Ten Commandments written in the genetic code? What if it isn’t sabotage?”
What’s not to like? I enjoyed reading The God Gene.
Leila Smith, for The Kindle Book Review. The Kindle Book Review received a free copy of this book for an independent, fair and honest review. We are not associated with the author nor with Amazon.