The Apocalypse Gene, by Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark, takes place in a future world ravaged by disease. The pandemic has made it necessary to house dying cancer patients in private homes. Olivya’s home is one such hospice, and her mother the caregiver. Olivya and her mother have the usual mother and teenaged daughter issues, made more complicated by the absence of Olivya’s father, who has committed suicide, and by Olivya’s psychic gift.
To escape the daily drudgery, Olivya spends time online with Mikah, a boy she’s never met in person but talked to often in Cy-Chi. Mikah encourages her to sneak out so they can meet in person. Mikah’s strong empathetic powers and Olivya’s ability to see auras are at this point issues that make them different from everyone else.
When their Cy-Chi avatars, Hakim and Ayvilo, leap out of the computer and allow the teens to have amazing out-of-body virtual adventures, the fun truly begins. Hakim and Ayvilo are six-inch tall holosims. Hakim starts out to betray Mikah, and is the sneakier of the two. Ayvilo, my favorite character, has a mind of her own and a vicious blade. The holosims come through in the end for their human counterparts.
Everyone is a product of their past, and Olivya and Mikah are no exception. Mikah’s past involves a millenium-old interaction with legendary creatures and angels from heaven. And you felt sorry for Olivya with her father’s suicide and her mother’s cancer? All teenagers are faced with using their past to shape their future. They must follow in the path set before them, shape it so it’s their own, or overcome it completely. Olivya and Mikah are no exception. She is determined to save her mother’s life, and he is desperate to change his destiny. They can’t do it alone.
There is an underlying romantic theme between Olivya and Mikah, but it is not a focus of the book. I liked the way they were portrayed as close friends who will probably be romantically linked. During the book’s action, though, they don’t have time. They are too busy saving the world.
The Apocalypse Gene is a complex novel with something for everyone. There’s enough romance to soothe those looking for it, plenty of science fiction for those interested in future Internet, demons and angels which are particularly appealing if you are familiar with Christian mythology, street gangs for those who like the urban jungle, and a truly well-told story for everyone else. Buy it, read it, and enjoy the launch of this amazing book!