The Gene of Life

Museyon. Jun. 2021. 360p. tr. from Japanese by Giuseppe di Martino. ISBN 9781940842516. pap. $16.95. SF
In the new novel from Takashima (The Wall), Max Knight, a celebrity professor of genetics, and his research assistant, Katya, find themselves caught up in a bewildering mystery. Evidence from an explosion at a far-right political rally in Berlin in 2008 appears to show that one of Hitler’s former lieutenants was in attendance—and not only was he alive, but he seemed to be only in his forties. Caught up in a conspiracy regarding genetic immortality, the puppet-master leads Max and Katya across the world from Germany to the Amazon to California and the Vatican, in a race against time with participants who are willing to kill. The most interesting part of this thriller, and one that should have been given more focus, is the ethical question behind its genetic science: Should immortality be a scientific achievement?
VERDICT A clunky thriller that relies entirely on plot and character tropes to move the action along. However, it also throws so much at the reader, at such a fast pace, that the reader cannot be faulted for occasional confusion. Others may find that the numerous conspiracy theories Takashima builds into the plot add excitement, but they also create the quagmire of a little too much for one title.
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