Series: The Kepler Chronicles #1
Author: Jadah McCoy
Published: April 4th, 2016
Audience: New Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Genetic Engineering
Source: I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.
Available for FREE with Kindle Unlimited
She struggles to feel human.
In 2256, the only remnants of civilization on Earth’s first colonized planet, Kepler, are the plant-covered buildings and the nocturnal, genetically spliced bug-people nesting within them: the Cull. During the day, Syl leaves her home in the sewers beneath Elite City to scavenge for food, but at night the Cull come looking for a meal of their own. Syl thought gene splicing died with the Android War a century ago. She thought the bugs could be exterminated, Elite city rebuilt, and the population replenished. She’s wrong.
Whoever engineered the Cull isn’t done playing God. Syl is abducted and tortured in horrific experiments which result in her own DNA being spliced, slowly turning her into one of the bugs. Now she must find a cure and stop the person responsible before every remaining man, woman, and child on Kepler is transformed into the abomination they fear.
He struggles not to.
For Bastion, being an android in the sex industry isn’t so bad. Clubbing beneath the streets of New Elite by day and seducing the rich by night isn’t an altogether undesirable occupation. But every day a new android cadaver appears in the slum gutters, and each caved in metal skull and heap of mangled wires whittles away at him.
Glitches—androids with empathy—are being murdered, their models discontinued and strung up as a warning. Show emotion, you die. Good thing Bastion can keep a secret, or he would be the next body lining the street.
He can almost live with hiding his emotions. That is, until a girl shows up in the slums—a human girl, who claims she was an experiment. And in New Elite, being a human is even worse than being a Glitch. Now Bastion must help the girl escape before he becomes victim to his too-human emotions, one way or another.
“When the sky is bruised purple, when the shattered glass no longer glints, that is when they wake.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy
When it comes to science fiction, it doesn’t take a lot to make me excited. The genre speaks to me in ways that none of the others can compare to. Yes, I have been feeling a little BLAH with the influx of dystopias as of late, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t pick one up. That being said, when I was scanning through book tours and saw the absolutely gorgeous cover for Artificial and then read the exciting blurb – I got all kinds of excited for this novel.
“If I’ve learned anything from the few yellowed and fragile history books that remain, it’s that mankind loves nothing more than a scapegoat.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy
Artificial is not a typical YA/NA dystopia. It’s a layered masterpiece of storytelling that keeps you both enthralled and confused by the complexities of this futuristic society. AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT! I just cannot think of another book – that I have read – that includes so many SciFi elements (genetic engineering, androids, other worlds, dystopia society, and all wrapped in a neat cyberpunk package) in a way that doesn’t feel phony and weave them into a multifaceted story of civil liberties of intelligent creatures and morality.
Syl, a human living in the sewage under the former human city of Elite, is a gritty and raw lead female that has no issues expressing herself and fighting for what she feels is right. She is a refreshing character in the expansive landscape of female-lead dystopias.
“That look is back – the starry-eyed one I always ignore. Maybe if I ignore it long enough, his feelings will go away.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy
Syl’s hardness is a direct result of having to fight for her life every day since the moment she was born.
“That’s just like him, shove little Syl out of the way so the menfolk can blow stuff up with their big, phallic guns.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy
Her tenacity is forged from being told that her job as a woman is to ensure humanity’s survival through procreation instead of fighting.
“I refuse to be one of those wide-eyed women back at the Sanctuary – the ones who stare as the Cull’s pincers slice them in two.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy
Then there is Bastion, a sex android who is trying to stay under the radar of those in charge of the machine-run town of New Elite. He is a glitch – an android who has emotions. In an ironic twist of governing, the androids in charge have deemed glitches as “human sympathizers” and will be destroyed. Bastion character compliments Syl perfectly. Where Syl tamps down any emotion she feels and tries not to make any deep connections, Bastion feels everything and has a sassy personality to boot – never thought I would ever write that about an android. Since the story is told from both character’s perspectives, the reader gets to feel his emotions without Bastion giving himself away.
“She would fight him like an angry kitten would fight a dog, but she would still lose.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy
Let me be straight with you, I honestly thought going in that Syl and Bastion would either insta-love or do the slowly, but steady fall madly in love with each other thing. Neither happened and – again – I couldn’t be happier. Yes, there is a spark of feeling between the two that encourages their continued involvement in each other’s lives, but it doesn’t go much farther than that – I’m sure future installments will expound upon those feelings and for that, I cannot wait.
When it comes to series, authors (myself included) tend to leave endings open or in a maddening cliffhanger. McCoy leaves Artificial wrapped up rather nicely to where you feel like you finished a story, but then sets up the next book in a way that doesn’t leave the reader feeling unsatisfied. Bravo McCoy!
If you like an imaginative world building that is descriptive in subtle ways – my favorite type of narrative when it comes to complex science fiction worlds – a gritty female lead, a sassy sex-bot android, monsters of the genetic variety, as well as, human and android, and dystopian societal structure just looking to be taken down… look no further. Artificial is the book for you.
About Jadah McCoy:
Jadah currently lives in Nashville, TN and works in law. When not babysitting attorneys, she can be found juicing her brain for creative ideas or fantasizing about her next trip out of the country (or about Tom Hiddleston as Loki - it’s always a toss up when she fantasizes).
She grew up in rural Arkansas, yet can still write good and sometimes even wears shoes! She did date her first cousin for a while but they decided against marriage for the sake of the gene pool.
Her true loves are elephants, cursing, and sangria - in that order. If you find an elephant that curses like a sailor whilst drinking sangria, you’re dangerously close to becoming her next romantic victim - er, partner.
She cut her writing teeth on badly written, hormone-driven fanfiction (be glad that’s out of her system), and her one true dream is to have wildly erotic fanfiction with dubious grammar written about her own novels. Please make her dreams come true.