Elise’s world is forever changed when she is given the opportunity of a lifetime – to work at the Museum of Evolution and be a Companion to the Neanderthal, Subject Twenty-One.
As a Sapien, a member of the lowest order of humans, she and others like her are held responsible for the damages inflicted on the world by previous generations. This job may be Elise’s only chance to escape a stagnating life in an ostracised and impoverished community.
But it doesn’t take long for Elise to realise that, away from the familiarity and safety of her home, her own secrets are much harder to conceal.
And the longer she stays the more she comes to realise that little separates her from the exhibits . . . and a cage of her own.
I really liked this book. Right from the start the story drew me in and as the story progressed and we go to know Elise more the more respect and love for her I had. She was such a great character, trying to balance what she felt was right against the oppressive set of rules she had to live under as she was terrified of the consequences if she was ‘noticed’.
In this dystopian world, homo sapiens have been nearly wiped out by some kind of water born plague, in an effort to save themselves all rules on genetic engineering had been relaxed leading to the creation of two super human classes Medius and Potiors. Medius are somewhat enhanced but Potiors are properly superhuman and almost invincible.
In the society we enter both superhuman classes keep a tight control over the remaining unmodified human population demanding ‘repatriations’ for the damage humans had previously done to the planet. They also created Museums of Evolution where previously extinct species have been returned to life and kept in an advanced zoo style environment.
It is here Elise manages to secure a job as companion to Neanderthal number Twenty One. The museums are having problems with their Neanderthal – they don’t seem to do well kept individually but the museum is too scared to let them live in groups together so they employ humans to spend time with them instead.
The clever way the author let you know which group people belonged to without having to explicitly tell you every time – unmodified Sapiens have a 2 syllable name like Elise, Medius have 3 syllables and Potiors 4. Its such a little thing but it let the story flow so much better than having to interrupt the narrative to tell us that information all the time.
As the story unwinds we learn more about the museum and the way unmodified Sapiens have to live with Elise becoming increasingly aware of the precarious circumstances she is living in. The supporting cast were great too especially Samuel was instantly liked when we met him.
All in all a really good story and I can’t wait for the next book (thankfully not a long wait it is being published alongside Subject Twenty One) to see where it goes from here.
With thanks to Del Rey for a copy of the book in exchange for honest review.
Subject Twenty One is published Thursday 1st July along with its sequel The Hidden Base.