Orig­i­nal Syn

Beth Kan­der

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction -

Owl House Books (SEPTEM­BER) Soft­cover $18.95 (474pp), 978-1-947003-99-6

In the fu­ture of Beth Kan­der’s Orig­i­nal Syn, sin­gu­lar­ity has been achieved, lead­ing to two branches of hu­manoids: Orig­i­nals, who are de­prived of tech­no­log­i­cal en­hance­ment; and Syns, en­hanced hu­mans who are phys­i­cally age­less and con­nected to vast net­works of knowl­edge. The two groups op­pose each other in per­pet­ual war­fare, the ori­gins of which have long been for­got­ten. With su­pe­rior tech­nol­ogy, the Syns are win­ning, while the Orig­i­nals are ever-di­min­ish­ing in num­ber.

Among the Orig­i­nals, lik­able Ere and his older, hand­somer cousin Cal are friends but also ri­vals. A scarcity of women poses a threat to the dreams of both young men as well as to the species it­self. The story quickly shifts to beau­ti­ful Ever, a Syn whose age is frozen at seven­teen, but whose hazy mem­o­ries reach back decades ear­lier to a child­hood that was abruptly and mys­te­ri­ously trun­cated. The story un­folds in al­ter­nat­ing chap­ters, quickly bring­ing the char­ac­ters face-to-face, and build­ing ten­sion as the col­li­sion of the two species in­ten­si­fies.

Char­ac­ters are ut­terly cred­i­ble. For Ere and Cal, life is a hunt for mates, for drink­able wa­ter, and for still-wear­able cloth­ing. For in­quis­i­tive Ever, lim­its on per­sonal free­dom dull the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing alive. To visit the site of her child­hood in search of an­swers to ques­tions that haunt her, Ever must ne­go­ti­ate var­i­ous gate­keep­ers and au­to­crats while hid­ing her cu­rios­ity be­neath a com­pli­ant sur­face.

The novel’s dis­parate worlds are re­vealed slowly, and the story is so­phis­ti­cated enough to en­gage both adults and teens. The book main­tains a taut pace to the end, con­clud­ing with a plot twist that turns the ta­bles and stim­u­lates in­ter­est in a sec­ond vol­ume, soon to come. SUSAN WAGGONER

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