Given the press release and back cover copy I had high hopes for Gene by Gerald Deshayes. Alas, my hopes were kind of dashed.
Not to say this book doesn’t have potential … it does. But it needs work. It’s not ready for prime time, so to speak. Some of the writing is clunky, there are inaccuracies in information and there is a lot of prose that could easily be cut out to make the story stronger.
Gene is a 17 year old boy who, on graduation day, injures his spinal chord while trying to impress a girl. He ends up paralyzed from the neck down.
The hospital he ends up at is attached to a research center. His attending physician is also a researcher there and believes he is a good candidate for a controversial, experimental and perhaps illegal surgical procedure. Despite the risk, they make him an interesting … and mysterious … offer to give him back his life. Basically, they tell him about the results he may get but not how they will make them come to pass.
To add additional twists to the story, Gene is attended to by an obsessive nurse who starts having a “Fatal Attraction” for him and almost ruins his chance to undergo the experimental surgery.
Throw in some pro-life protesters, a mercenary, a sleeze-bag physical therapist and you’ve got what really could have been a good novel.
The concept that prompted this novel, which I won’t tell you or it will spoil the story, is very interesting. The concept is based in actual ideas that have been discussed in real life and Deshayes has some interesting thoughts of how the idea might eventually come to fruition.
What Didn’t Work for Me
Hmmm. Let me count the ways ….
The protagonist, Gene, is probably one of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever read. He makes Guenevere from The Mists of Avalon seem like a really nice lady. He is a conceited, self-obsessed, misogynistic jerk. Personally, if he dropped dead I don’t think the planet would miss him.
His attending physician is a two-dimensional character of a German mad scientist. His dialogue is fairly consistently written in a hard to understand accent that reminds of of Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes.
The mercenary at one point in the book remembers what it was like to be in the African jungle and what did he see there? Giraffes and elephants. Um. These creatures don’t live in the jungle. They live in the savanna. You know, the relatively open, grassy plains that have few trees and shrubs? Erg! Get your facts straight!
There wasn’t a single likable character in the book. So why am I reading it? Oh, yeah, because I promised to write a review of it.
And, to add insult to injury, the twist at the end really isn’t the twist. You think you know the ending and then there is an epilogue that adds another twist. Is it an interesting twist? Not the way it was executed.
I found reading this book to be a painful exercise, which is probably why it took me two months to read it. If I were you, I’d wait until a good editor puts some effort into sprucing up this novel before reading it.
SCORE: 1 out of 5 Palm Trees Possible
NOTE: Although I received this book free to review, that did not affect my opinion of the book. Read past reviews of books I’ve received for free and you’ll know I don’t hold my punches.