Book Review: The Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko

the genomeThe Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Open Road Media

Author Info

Wendy’s Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed Lukyanenko’s Night Watch, so I was quick to grab this one. I like when authors diversify their offerings. With Lukyanenko, he’s smoothly transitioned from an urban supernatural story in Night Watch, to hardcore science fiction.

Don’t let me scare you with the term “hardcore,” if you are wary of scifi. I don’t often read the genre, but I could easily get into the intricacies of Lukyanenko’s futuristic world where humans have spread far beyond Earth. Humanity has also expanded far into the field of genetic manipulation, right from the embryo.

Alex Romanov is a pilot-spesh. That is, upon metamorphosis, physical changes to his body allow him to easily compensate for gravity and inertia, while his mind has been altered to allow for integrity, honesty, and the utmost loyalty of his crew. He also is unable to love — which proves problematic when he helps a youg fighter spesh through her transformation and discovers there’s more to her than there seems.

When Alex takes a job with a mysterious company and must pull together an unusual crew, things really get interesting as Lukyanenko explores their various specializations (or lack thereof), their backgrounds, and their interactions with each other. All of which will truly be tested when they take on their first mission — transporting a clone and his alien charges.

Before I go on, I want to shower some praise on Lukyanenko for not only writing interesting female characters, but for actually dealing with their sex and sexuality — from breastfeeding to menstruation — in completely natural ways within the story. It’s almost as if these things are *gasp* normal.

I am, however, disappointed in the way he, like many other authors I’ve read, tends to focus on racial differences. I appreciate the diversity of the cast of characters, but I find it so annoying to have the black woman constantly described as “the black woman” when there is no contextual reason for it. How often do you read “the white man picked up his sword,” yet “said the black woman” is a constant thing. I suppose I should be blessed that Lukyanenko doesn’t go through the thesaurus of colours that George R.R. Martin does when he’s busy describing the “exotic” folks who are so obviously not white.

Anyway, Lukyanenko introduces an intriguing cast and a few interesting plot devices that promises an exciting second half.

But instead, the book suddenly becomes this strange Sherlock Holmes murder mystery, complete with a Sherlock Holmes clone and a Watson to solve it. The change is so abrupt and disappointing, that, what promised to be a great read, suddenly left a strange taste in my mouth as Alex tries to piece together the mystery and protect his crew before the detective does. Only, despite the story being told from Alex’s point of view, the reader isn’t allowed into his thought processes anymore, as he leaps from conclusion to conclusion, none of which make sense.

Everyone on board his ship has motive, and, based on the great character and political issues introduced at the start, I had such high hopes for where things were going to go. But the switch in tone is jarring and the detective work is just plain silly.

Still, I liked the beginning of the book well enough to recommend that much!

With thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

6 Comments on “Book Review: The Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko”

  1. I like the whole pilot-spesh thing. I haven’t read many scifi lately. I like that this one isn’t military. It was sounding so good and then it took a turn. I like mystery, but if it doesn’t fit the story there’s no point sticking it in. I hate when the narrator holds things back from the readers, so annoying.


    • The mystery could have been okay, but it just… Sherlock Holmes… Really? It just got silly. So disappointing. I want to just tell people to read the first half and them make up an ending that works for them LOL


  2. Yikes, “the black woman” sounds pretty cringe-worthy. Although I have to say, it is pretty cool to hear about an author who actually deals with biological issues like breastfeeding and menstruation rather than pretending it doesn’t exist. This is how babies are made possible, people!


    • I know it’s such an odd thing to praise a book on, but I was so happy when reading those parts and had to share. It wasn’t weird or out of context. It’s just something Alex himself has to deal with as he’s helping Kim in her transformation. Not only does the writer write it like it’s normal, he lets the character treat it that way too.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: