Melody

Holiday House Publishing | September 2017 | 400 pgs
Source: Library



Set in a near-future society (in this case in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) where mixing human DNAs with animals genes is used to be a norm, fashionable statement but is now considered as an unrecognised act and a violation against humanhood. This genetic transformation through injections of the animal's genes to the human's body is called Spliced and those who are spliced are called Chimeras. They often bear some characteristics of the animal of its genes they are affected, if not by its appearance, e.g. having a faint coat of fur on parts of their body or having a different skin tone and texture, etc. Still, they are humans overall, just that they are something different. 

Sixteen-year-old Jimi and her best friend, Del, have known each other since they were children. Jimi lives with her mother and her elder brother, Kelvin. Her father had passed due to a flu pandemic and Del lives with his father, who is a cop and he could get abusive at times. They are all aware of the chimeras; and most of them steer clear of them to avoid any trouble. At that time a law for the Genetic Heritage Act (GHA) hasn't been passed and as long as they keep their distance from each other they are safe. 

Del, on the other hand, thinks the idea of being a chimera is cool. He still misses his dead pet salamander and as the days go the thought of getting himself spliced grows. Although Jimi sympathises the chimeras and the contempt they are receiving, she still doesn't understand why Del is obsessed with the idea until one day Del goes missing and it struck her that Del's relationship with his father has worsen and she fears he may get himself spliced to spite his father, considering the latter harbours strong negative feelings towards the chimeras. Jimi's search for Del intensifies as the story progresses and she befriends a few chimeras along the way through a few mishaps which has made her think differently of them and humanhood as a whole. By then, the law for the GHA has passed and the chimeras are no longer viewed as humans. In short, they have lost all the rights of a person and are viewed as mixies, or even animals. Given this circumstances, humans have the right to discriminate or mistreat them and it fuels Jimi's determination in searching Del, with the help of her new friends. 
"...what's so great about being one hundred percent human anyway? You look at what humans do to each other, what they do to chimeras and to animals and to the planet. Chimeras are people, regardless of any law, but for some of us, 'human' just isn't a club we want to be a part of." ~ Pg 104
"I never meant to leave humanity, and I don't think I did. To me, being a chimera is about more fully joining the rest of the world, not about being any less of a human. And it's about being able to choose who and what you want to be." ~ Pg 239

Intense and emotionally driven, Spliced allows readers to imagine the future world of the genetics engineering and most importantly, the meaning of humanity. The characters are fleshed out and developed and I found myself cared for some characters the more I got to know them. The first part of the story focused much on the friendship between Jimi and Del, as well as the uncertainties and the tension between the residents and the chimeras. The second part sped up and focus more on the interactions between Jimi and her new friends, their search for Del and lastly, the risk and the challenge they have to face with the chimeras haters, who would do anything to wipe them out. 

While reading this book, it occurred to me how timely this story is with the underlying tone of bias and the subject of discrimination. I rooted for Jimi all the way; for her courage, her fierce determination in searching for Del and lastly, her compassion and her protectiveness in her new friends, the chimeras as a whole. There is a small twist I certainly didn't see at the end, but it didn't alter my overall view of the story. Although it seems to have a closure, I'm hoping there is a sequel to it. 
"Humanity isn't about DNA. It's about kindness and decency and treating others with compassion. ... It's time to stop bickering about who is a person, who qualifies as human and remember what it means to be human at all." ~ Pg 352

Note: Jon McGoran has written several thrillers for adults and this is his first book for young adults. He has also written a few books under pen name, D. H. Dublin.


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10 Responses
  1. Lark Says:

    What an interesting premise! I used to read a lot more science fiction than I do now, but this is the kind I like. I'm also curious what McGoran's adult thrillers are like. Thanks, Melody! :)


  2. Jenny Says:

    Sounds like a fun story. I like this idea of it.


  3. Melody Says:

    Lark - Yes, it does has an interesting premise, doesn't it? I rarely read sci-fi but I was caught up with this one; not that it was focused a lot on the sci-fi element, to be honest. I'm curious with McGoran's adult thrillers too so I'll have to check them out as well.


  4. Melody Says:

    Jenny - I liked this story. Emotionally driven and thought-provoking at the same time.


  5. jenclair Says:

    This premise is similar to J.T. Nichols Sinthetic. Given the way humans mistreat other humans and the environment, the concept of discrimination and abuse is all too real. Adding Spliced to my list.


  6. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - Gotta check out Sinthetic. Thanks, Jenclair!


  7. Jeane Says:

    This sounds pretty interesting. And I love the cover. I'm curious do the Chimeras have different abilities/traits aside from fur or skin texture? like sharper sense of smell, hearing, etc?


  8. Melody Says:

    Jeane - I love the cover too. Yes, the Chimeras definitely do have those traits as well but all these don't make them any less human.


  9. Iliana Says:

    This really sounds fascinating. I love that it is one of those books that makes you think of bigger themes! Great review Melody!


  10. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Yes, I loved it that this book tackles a few important issues which are relating to today's society. I hope you'll read it at some point.