The story of Generation follows Hendrix Harrison who is a reporter for a paranormal magazine called Strange Phenomena. Hendrix starts investigating ghost sightings and he is pulled deep into a mystery which is far bigger then he initially realized. As bodies start disappearing and Mendel Pharmaceuticals starts taking a particular interest in this, the mystery deepens. Sarah Wallace, who is an entomologist and is the head of the research facility from where the bodies have disappeared, also gets involved in the mystery. Sarah soon finds that the mystery is far more sinister than initially imagined. As both Hendrix and Sarah start to dig deeper, a story of corporate greed and a drug trial gone horribly wrong starts developing. With neither of them willing to let go and Mendel Pharmaceuticals hell-bent on protecting its investments, a clash between “David and Goliath” begins. They have to race against time and unknown enemies to solve the mystery in time to stop Mendel from launching a suspect treatment which would have global implications.
All the characters in the book are very well developed. Hendrix Harrison, a technophobe journalist, was portrayed perfectly. He is someone we want following a paranormal story. He has an eye for the unusual and knows when to keep pursuing a story to its conclusion. His military background comes in handy in difficult situations. What I liked was that the author gave us the background story about why Hendrix has an aversion to mobile phones which was extremely believable. Sarah Wallace, who is an entomologist, gets pulled into the mystery when bodies from her research facilities are stolen. Sarah is shown to be at the top of her field. She has an eye for detail as far as dead bodies are considered. Sarah and Hendrix form the perfect team to solve the mystery.
The relationship between Hendrix and Sarah proceeds along a well-worn path. They clash in the beginning, with Sarah taking a strong disliking to Hendrix, but also being attracted to him. Then, as circumstances put the two together, and they start working together towards the common goal of solving the mystery, they begin to develop feeling for each other and end up in bed together. I have to say that the scene depicting the sex they have was unnecessarily graphic and a bit crass. The author should have left the vivid description of the act out of the book, considering that he does not have a talent in writing such scenes.
The book is set in the UK, where the author also hails from. There are certain words which creep into his writing which would be familiar to someone staying there, but are a little difficult to grasp for someone who is not. I also had some problem following the protagonist around as he drives from one place to another. I frankly don’t know why this happened. Generally, I have no problem following books which are set in various locations around a country. Being in India, I am definitely not familiar with places in either UK or USA. So, it was definitely not about being in unfamiliar territory, it was something else altogether. I suspect it was the way in which these scenes were written (or it may have been the fact that I was reading this book really late at night).
Throughout the book, cases of people on whom this “treatment” was experimented, are interspersed with the current events taking place. These were sections which bring out the horror element of the book. Although, not particularly scary, they are gruesome. These people are shown to be in limbo, where their body has died and decayed, but their mind remains alive. This is a horrible state to be in. Imagining their plight sent shivers down my spine. Being trapped in a decaying body and being able to feel each and every step which takes place in that process is something which is bone-chilling. We can actually feel their pain and despair as they are stuck in a seemingly never-ending cycle of decay and renewal, which may never bring them back to life, but will also not let them die in peace.
This book had so much potential to go above and beyond being a simple medical-thriller. There were hints of there being so much more to the story which were never explored. In fact, the author ends the book with a major cliff-hanger. This is never good in a standalone novel. I don’t know if the author wanted to keep the option of converting this book into a series open, but this left a bad taste. The horror part of the story could have been developed so easily and so magnificently, but was not. The book had all the elements in place to create a zombie apocalypse. I can understand not going down that route, but in this case, the author should have closed down that possibility by the end of the book. This never happens.
I did find a lot of thinking points in the story. To what extent will people go to live forever and what is the price they are willing to pay? How safe is genetic engineering, and what would happen if something goes wrong? How far are companies willing to go to protect their interests and those of their investors? How will humanity evolve, will evolution and science take us to a place where we will be able to defy “God”, or nature itself? I love a book which makes me think about the implications of the story, where the book does not end with the end of the story.
Overall, I loved the thrill ride. The book was able to create and maintain the tension required of every thriller. There were parts of the book, where I was holding my breath, unable to continue reading, fearing what would happen next. I also loved the fact that the book had a happy ending for most people involved. If the book could have been developed up to its potential, I would have blindly given it 5-stars. But as it stands now, with no sequel in sight, I rate the book as 3 stars only.