Premier Digital Publishing: 7/1/2014
ebook, 415 pages
Scientists now have the capacity to hack into DNA the same way that hackers can infiltrate computer systems, manipulating organisms by inserting new DNA or exploiting genetic mutations that can trigger fatal heart attacks or induce bipolar illness or Alzheimer’s. These biohackers as they’re known can perform their experiments in their kitchens using equipment purchased for next to nothing on eBay.
Most of these biohackers are like Seth Stringer in Cambridge, MA who’s made a name for himself exploring the frontiers of genetic manipulation. He’s young, brash, ambitious and obsessed with his work. but also a little naïve. When his former professor Marcus Adair holds out the possibility of coming to London and going to work for an international pharmaceutical company called Chimera, he jumps at the chance. He can make good money and cement his relationship with his girlfriend, who has misgivings about his future prospects as a breadwinner. He fails to realize until too late that the principal business of Chimera isn’t the manufacture of generic drugs but the production of lethal genetic products for well-heeled clients. This will then be used to assassinate or debilitate presidents, prime ministers and CEOs using their own DNA against them - a method that not only makes it difficult to identify the perpetrator (a cold virus can deliver the engineered DNA) but makes it almost impossible to determine that a crime has been committed in the first place.
While SynBio by Leslie Horvitz had a great premise, the hacking of DNA, the plot deteriorated into something other than a science fiction thriller. While the suspense was still there, it became a novel about a series of hook-ups to gather DNA from various men and lost much of the initial excitement. In the end it was so-so and a forgettable book for me.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of the author for review purposes.