Original publish date: 12 July 2014
Apparently, I have a type of story that will draw my attention…or rather a few story types. And that type of story is post-apocalyptic. Seriously, I’m not sure how many books I’ve read that are post-apocalyptic or dystopian in nature. But good golly Miss Molly I like it.
In this instance, Mutation by Stephen Westland is what caught my eye. The story takes place in the not so distant future in the North Wales area. A family essentially hibernates in a bunker beneath their house when a plague, of sorts, descends on the Earth. Amelia and James, 17 year old twins, their mother, and their father, the geneticist, enter their pods for safekeeping, for lack of a better term. Amelia, James, and their mother believe that they are going to “sleep” for a year. Their father, however, knows that they’ll be asleep for much, much longer. Think like 25 years in suspended animation.
Emerging from stasis, the world is vastly different from when they left it. The first surprise is that their father’s pod contains a mummified body. The next surprise comes when James and Amelia get separated from each other while searching for their mother and Amelia is taken by “others.” When she awakes, she learns she is with a friendly group and that others, whom they call scavengers, would not be above cannibalism. Amelia learns that due to her father’s profession, she has become a part of the Immortal Project, which extends life and cellular reproduction, as well as increases strength. Issues surrounding human experimentation arise and are presented from multiple perspectives, which was pleasant to read a more dynamic argument.
The chapters were short, which mirrored the quick occurrence of events and helped to make the story even more quickly paced. I noticed areas with some grammatical concerns, as well as some areas where I was unsure if the duplication of information was intended. It seems as if it could have used another pair of critical eyes, but the story was intriguing enough to keep my attention despite the editorial issues, especially with Amelia’s response to James’s fate.
Overall, I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.