Book Review: Genus by Jonathan Trigell

Book Review: Genus by Jonathan Trigell

Shelved: Adult fiction (science fiction, dystopia)
Rating: ★★★
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Genus appealed to me because it’s set in futuristic dystopian London, specifically in King’s Cross – now known simply as The Kross. Many of you may associate King’s Cross with Harry Potter and The Hogwarts Express, but The Kross is anything but magical. It’s dirty, dull, and impoverished; a reluctant home to The Unimproved. You see, in Trigell’s world, physical perfection is easy to attain – for the rich. For a price, your children can be free of disability and disease through genetic selection.

Genus is a vivid and frightening view of London. It’s terrifying not because it presents a world where the human body can be manipulated as easily as anything else, but because, as a result, it creates an even larger divide between the rich and the poor. If we already live in a world where meritocracy does not exist, it exists even less in The Kross.

Genus was unfortunately unable to captivate me completely, not due to the gritty plot, which I rather enjoyed, but due to the writing style. It leans more towards literary fiction rather than the commercial science fiction I’m used to. I tend to assume that dystopian novels tend to focus more on the plot, but Genus instead zooms in on the tiny details surrounding its characters, such as Holman, an old man with an incurable (for him) ailment that means he is unable to walk properly and is permanently in excruciating pain. It was not quite as snappy as I had hoped, being more contemplative and watchful, and I was impatient to know where it was going.

If you’re tired of reading dystopian novels that all sound the same, Genus may be one to pick up. It offers a fresh view of society that isn’t completely far from reality and shows what can happen when perfection comes at a costly price.

Published: 5th July 2012
Publisher: Corsair
Pages: 288
Source: Thank you Corsair for providing this book for review!

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Genus by Jonathan Trigell

  1. I may have read into it more than the author intended, but to me Genus offered a look at a society where we systematically discard people, based solely on the circumstances of their birth – where being born in the wrong caste, part of the country, social background etc. etc. pretty much marks you down as worthless, almost from the moment of your conception. There are some interesting parallels between the London of Genus, and the [potential] London of the next ten years, particularly given the impact of the Governments austerity measures on the already vulnerable in society.

    I think for me the most chilling aspect of Genus were some of the newspaper headlines Trigell wrote. There’s one in particular that, if you modify the references to the unimproved, and swap them out for immigrants, the unemployed, the sick etc. etc. make for alarming reading, particularly when placed against newspapers from certain right-leaning newspapers.

    Then again, I did read Genus on the anniversary of the London riots, so no doubt that contributed to what I took away from reading it.

    • Ah yes, I can definitely see that, in the way that the ‘Unimproved’ are the underclass who will never have the means to move out of The Kross.

  2. Jonathan Trigell

    Thanks for your review, Stacey. (I have my name as a google alert, so I see most reviews pretty quickly). Realize my style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but pleased that you were intelligent and perceptive enough to see my intentions. Some people think a book is just too ‘slow’ for them, without examining the cause of that. Glad to hear that you still enjoyed it anyway.

    I don’t normally comment on reviews, but wanted to respond to Michael, to reassure him that his reading is absolutely intentional. While I would stop short of calling Genus an allegory, it is very much supposed to mirror Britain of today, and even more so where we may be heading…

    I was a bit freaked out when the London riots occurred only a few weeks after publication though.

    My thanks and best wishes to you both.


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