This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
It’s been a long time since a book has set my soul ablaze, leaving me anxious to devour its pages but wanting to savor every word. I loved this book with every ounce of my being: this is the epitome of why I love the science fiction genre all wrapped up into one.
About the Book
Publisher: Simon Pulse | Release Date: November 7, 2017 | Pages: 425
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction | Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.
When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.
Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?
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It’s been a long time since a book has set my soul ablaze, leaving me anxious to devour its pages but wanting to savor every word. I loved this book with every ounce of my being: this is the epitome of why I love the science fiction genre all wrapped up into one. Fantastically written with masterful exposition and worldbuilding; the characters are complex, scarred, and so perfectly human.
This Mortal Coil is set in the future where genetic modifications are commonplace and everyone is implanted with technology that allows them to change the way they look, VR technology embedded in their ocular nerves, healing apps and more. The apps allow people the utter freedom to express themselves however they want, but it also becomes a method of control in a post-apocalyptic world where a deadly disease known as Hydra threatens humanity. And Cat is the one with the key to saving everyone… but who can she trust?
“Nature designed this plague as a double-edged sword: it either takes your life, or it takes your humanity.”
Fast-paced and action-packed, This Mortal Coil is non-stop from start to finish. Every single chapter was full of twists and turns that I couldn’t see coming, but it all clicked once I had the full picture and I love it when that happens! The worldbuilding was steady throughout and never felt like an info-dump, which it very easily could have fallen into given how much technology and science play a part in this narrative. While this book is science and tech-heavy, it never felt overwhelming or confusing for me to follow and also managed to be plausible. I never needed to suspend my disbelief in order to enjoy this world and story, and that is so damn rare. I do have a small science background and an intense personal interest in microbiology, so I do want to acknowledge that while I found this very accessible it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
This book is written captivatingly well. The writing is lyrical and beautiful without being overly poetic in prose, and quite literally made me a ball of anxious feelings for the entire time that I read it. There is a LOT going on in this book, but it is plotted intricately well. From a writing perspective, I really appreciated the parallels in how chapters one and two opened and closed – it was a nice touch to frame the before and current. This is a book where both the plot and the characters drive the action forward in tandem, and the book is all rising action. I will admit that the climax did feel a little anti-climactic after the journey of the whole book, but the ending redeemed it for me. This was a 5-star read through and through.
“Sometimes we need to do awful things to stop worse things from happening. You’re still thinking in terms of right and wrong, but this is war, and the rules have changed.
Themes of morality and choice are at the fore of this narrative; utilitarianism and governmental control for the “greater good.” There is a clear line of right and wrong according to our main characters, but they along with the reader struggle to reconcile moral rigidity with doing the most good for the most people. (Also can I say that my heart soared when I saw Zarathustra Initiative mentioned for the first time, my Nietzsche-loving soul loved the philosophical nod!) But even more than that, we see our characters struggle with their consciences in their fight for survival and I think that Suvada did an excellent job depicting how conflicted people in situations like this would feel. What lengths people will go to for freedom. To live.
“The only damn thing that makes life worthwhile is people looking after each other.”
I absolutely adored Catarina: she is strong, brave, and selfless without needing to be all hard and rough (unlike many other strong female MCs). She takes comfort from the people around her and it is her compassion that makes her such a strong character for me. Cole, Leoben, and Dax all are complex characters with their pasts shrouded in mystery and with the narrative being in Cat’s first-person perspective I approached each of them with a healthy dose of skepticism. The romance set the lump of coal where my heart should be aflutter. I don’t normally care much for romance in general, but I have been known to swoon now and again (hi Alistair you are still my first love). I have seen some negative reviews talking about insta-love and honestly, I am wondering if we read the same book? Because I witnessed a beautiful, slow-burn romance develop between conflicted characters over time. I suppose there are some plot points which I think could be construed as insta-love, but honestly, the relationship felt very organic to me. And this is coming from a person that almost always dislikes romance and loathes insta-love.
Honestly, I could gush about this book all day. All I can say is WOW. This Mortal Coil is the book that I didn’t know I needed until I opened its pages and I am so thankful that I got to share my reading experience with Becca & Taylor! I really enjoyed how this book kept me on my toes and turned everything that I thought I knew upside down. This is a beautifully written and thought-provoking start to a new trilogy, and I honestly cannot believe that this was Suvada’s debut! Have I convinced you to read this yet? Because seriously, this book was so much fun to read! I recommend this book with all my heart and soul to lovers of science fiction, especially infection-type stories with heavy science and technology.
Content warnings: mild gore, cannibalism, medical procedures
Let’s go on another adventure together!