Keith Brooke's Genetopia is a strange hybrid. For the most part it reads like a young adult novel (in the vein of John Christopher's Tripod novels) until around two-thirds of the way through when there is a brutal and bloody purging, an attempt at genocide. However, that's not to say this isn't a page-turner full of up-to-the minute ideas and explorations of genetic viruses and infections. If this is our Earth, it is a post-apocalyptic future where most of history, science except for the clans' knowledge of bio- and nanotechnology and gender equality have long been forgotten. Flint is a member of the clan Treco. His father is a violent, overbearing man who uses his fists to take out his impatience on those around him. Flint has often taken the brunt of his father's outbursts, sometimes to protect his sister, Amber. Their father suspects with some cause that he may not be Amber's father. When Amber disappears at a county fair, Flint realizes she may have been sold into slavery. There are many levels of humanity in Genetopia, but most people are not counted as True humans due to their genetic impurities. There are the Lost, whose DNA has been tampered with, and there are Mutts: humans who have been bred into loyal, near-animal states. Flint journeys into the wide world to look for Amber, learns a martial art and is injured in the war. Along the way the reader is shown a strange and very dark world with a few shards of hope to hold on to.
Gavin J. Grant runs Small Beer Press in Northampton, Massachusetts.