Our first impressions of Genefire

Find out The Space Girls’ first impressions of SPSFC3 contestant, Genefire by James Flanagan.

As part of the Self-Published Sci-Fi Competition, my team (The Space Girls) has been given 25 books to read. Of this initial allocation (or ‘slush pile’), we are reading the first 30% and then voting Yes or No on whether we’d like to continue reading further. You can see our full allocation in my previous blog.

Here are the team’s first impressions of Genefire by James Flanagan. (You can find all of our first impressions posts here.)

The cover of GenefireBook blurb

In a future where genetic engineering is becoming the norm, even the simplest mistakes could be devastating.

Sometimes it feels as though the world will end if you don’t finish your PhD. For Larry Milton, it’s true.

Larry has discovered a dire warning from the future about Earth’s destruction — written in the DNA of a young girl. With the destruction of the planet at stake, and no one believing him, he goes to extraordinary lengths to help the messenger from the future save the world… and try to finish his PhD at the same time.

Goodreads / Amazon

Our first impressions

Nancy: Quite an interesting read so far. We have two POVs where one is the present and another some time in the future (possibly 150 years?). The present POV is a doctoral Molecular Genetics student named Larry Milton, who uses some bold persuasion to get a job at a top level university. Despite his overconfidence, he never treats female working peers with disrespect and only directs his grievances against his boss. His chapters were always quite good. He ends up in quite a bind at the 30% point of the novel. Quite curious to know what he plans to do.

The second POV is a female astronaut living in the International Space Station named Tammy who doesn’t have any genetic modifications or a DNA copyright thingy embedded into her body. I didn’t quite understand this gene tampering aspect of the writing, which might be my only complaint of the book. It felt a bit confusing. Otherwise, the story is very promising so far. (Y)

Katherine: The opening where the pregnant girl had to go to the workhouse because her lover the reverend was Catholic and wouldn’t leave the church for her was interesting, and the almost ‘aside’ of her inhaling some dust from a metal capsule in a meteorite left an interesting sci-fi thread to wonder at prior to the rest of the book. This was spread across stories that eventually played off each other in two separate timelines, one (with Tammy and Gessica) where Earth is being annihilated and the other where someone called Milton is investigating strange things in genetics and being hunted for it.

I was honestly on the fence about it in the first half of the book, relatively speaking. There were some errors, particularly confusing in the case of missing commas around one side of subordinate clauses, and whenever Gessica got involved at the beginning it felt a little info-dumpy. The situation on the ISS seemed weird and unprofessional, even in the future, and back in the past I found Milton’s chapters quite frustrating due to not liking him much as a character. The time travel, when eventually explained, seemed a little BS but by that point I was very invested in the plot.

A sneaky trick that the author pulls later on that I will not spoil here almost had me shouting out loud at how jammy he’d been, and perhaps added a full point to my final score. Definitely worth reading all the way through. (Y)

Claire: The introduction to this was definitely not what I was expecting – it reads more like a historical fiction, as we follow a young woman is sent to a workhouse as she is pregnant outside of wedlock. But after Chapter 1, this becomes a little more conventional, as we follow Gessica and Tammy as they watch a planet below them explode. I didn’t actually realise that Tammy was male at first – it’s a little unclear! But I really liked the writing style, it’s really easy to read and explains lots of complicated science well. I definitely want to continue reading. (Y)

Status: Quarterfinalist