I first heard of Susan Kaye Quinn when I read her YA sci-fi novel, Mindjack. It was one of the best indie books I had ever (or have ever) read. I made a point to contact her and strike up a brief conversation. Later, after she penned a middle grade story, we were thrilled to add her experience and expertise to our Emblazon author group. The bucks and the fans, however, are in the older markets, and she has returned to YA for her Singularity series.
In The Legacy Human, humanity has divided into those who have ascended, or become more than human, and the “legacies” who remain unchanged. Eli has always wanted to become part of the godlike, powerful ascender class, and his desire for immortality has been amplified by his mother’s fight with cancer. But that option was taken away from legacies long ago. The only way to attain his dream is participate in the Olympics, the contest of arts styled on the long-ago athletic games by the same name, and win the right to ascend. But he has no control over when his creative genius will strike. In fact, his best work was painted when he was unconscious. Fortunately, his timing wins him a sponsor. But his Olympics experience nets something far different than gold. He finds out secrets about his own past that he can barely comprehend…and that prompt him to flee for his life.
I have two complaints. First, I struggled to connect with the protagonist. I think the setting was a contributing factor. While it was vivid and imaginative, I tend to shut down in worlds different than my own, and this one felt a little sterile despite a bid for compassion for Eli’s suffering mother.
Also, I totally wasn’t buying the mottled mess being passed off as religion. One of the main themes in the book is religion and the soul. (Do ascenders still have one?) But the culminating passage that was supposed to stir my heart simply made me shake my head. “Fashioned and formed in my mother’s womb by the random chance of DNA, the twisting strands of molecules and faith, and in that moment, with that spark, I was made.” We’re descended from apes, yet formed in the Creator’s image. Purposefully made, yet the result of random chance. The mesh of worldviews didn’t make any kind of sense.
But if you want a page turner, this is it. The imagination, the delimma, the action, the twists, the futuristic details–all classic Quinn. Despite my reservations, I was thoroughly entertained. The prose is smooth and lovely. The language and sexuality are perfectly clean. Appropriate for 14+.
I do have to say this is the best cover I’ve seen this year, bar none. Great job, D. Robert Pease!