I really didn’t enjoy reading this book. For most part it was just boring. I could predict almost everything in this book. However, considering this is the first published book the author has ever written, I would say, it was a valiant effort from her side.
Titan’s Strain by Virginia Soenksen is a dystopian young adult book set in the post third world war 3 London. In this book we follow the story of Liane who works for the Agency. It is a government organization which was established to neutralize any imminent threats to the country. What they do in the name of saving the country is beyond anyone’s imagination. There are trainees, trainers, agents, handlers, and finally administrators in the agency. The only rule is to follow everything the handler demands of you and keep your head down. Or you will be mind-wiped or killed. Liane is one of the top ranking agents in the agency and her handler Damian is the best handler in the entire agency. They complete all the missions without any mishaps and they always get the things done.
A normal Handler sees their agents as toys or as animals on their leash. But Damian cares about Liane and he urges her learn more than just to kill and hurt people. However, when it comes to training or missions he is very strict. He is kind to her since she was brought in by the agency ten years back; her only friend was Damian. Their relationship is not warm or cordial, they don’t talk to each other like friends but it is the closest she has got to having a friend in nearly a decade.
The london we see after the destruction caused by world war 3 is different. It is left in ruins and people and government are trying to rebuild what was destroyed. This new london is different in other ways; the technology has advanced since the world war 3 ended and it gave rise to a new genetic modification serum. This serum has the potential to give supernatural abilities to humans. It can cure cancer and make you look young and strong. The people who take this serum are called mods. The government has tried to stop modding and failed time and again.
Liane is special, she has everything a mod has and then some more. A rougue serum Called the Titan’s Strain comes into black market. This serum has the potential to make the genetic modifications more advanced and permanent. There is some more bad news to the already broken London. More than 12 mods were dead and the killer is still at loose. Liane wants to set things right and gets into an unlikely partnership with Seth, the officer from Genetic Modification Task Force. They both become friends while solving this case. This new relationship is forbidden according to the agency. Liane has to hide her tracks while she was with Seth. Will the Agency catch up with her lie? Who is killing mods and why are they doing it?
The rest you get it right?
I did like the book but not that much. There are a gazzilion things that could have been better. The writing seemed inconsistent in a lot of places. The first few chapters were written horribly and towards the end you can clearly see the improvement in the technique. I appreciate the author for her effort but this could have been so much better.
Things I liked in the book:
1. I really like the aspect of modding based on the animal DNA. It was so cool to see werewolf packs, reptile packs and tiger packs. The concept of modding itself is really alluring and new to me.
2. Liane was badass and I always like a strong female protagonist. The fact that the lead of the story is female gives me goosebumps.
3. The action scenes were really well written. I was contend with the amount of action and kicking assing I got from this book. However, I never expected something this good while I started reading the book.
Things I hated in this book:
1. I hate books with shallow characters. All the characters were under-developed. How much ever I tried liking Seth, I simply couldn’t. To me there was really no reason as to why his character was there. I at least thought there would be some romance angle, but I am deeply disappointed. He was there just to break whatever Damian and Laine had. No point or goal for his character. His backstory was not even detailed in the book.
2. The logic of the plot is all too similar to other books in this genre. The virus/ genetic serum spreading and government shady dealings, corrupt officials are all typical to dystopian. I would have loved to see something unique and different that would set this book apart. I tried liking the story so much but I was unable to feel anything for the characters.
3. Really the entire story was between Damian, Seth and Liane. May be in two or three chapters we have seen Crispin, the mod pack leader. A few really minor characters who were mentioned only once of twice in the entirety of the book. I mean what the hell? This is a dystopian novel for god sakes and we only have three major under-developed characters who are at times really annoying.
4. Damian’s character was better developed than Seth’s. However, I was not able to understand where he stands when it comes to Liane. I think the reason behind this is lack of emotional relationship between the characters. The story should have been little longer and it should have included more scenes which would make the readers understand how the characters react to each other’s actions.
5. The relationship between Damian and Liane was erratic. There relationship was supposed to be strong. They know each other for 10 years and all we get is glimpses of them roaming in the museums or going out for stupid dinners. These scenes tried to bring Damian and Liane together, however the effort was futile. I was not able to get the feeling that they were any closer than they were before.
6. World building requires serious help in this book. I was not able to imagine anything other than a few destroyed buildings and broken bridges. Do they still have cars, busses and other things which are normal before world war 3. The war is a big deal, and there must have been lot of casualitues. We never saw a glimpse of how the war affected the characters in the book. It should have made them vulnerable or should have changed them some how. We don’t even know why the war took place. Lot of questions to be answered and I feel it is too late to answer now.
7. The friendship between Seth and Liane – a big no from me. They were supposed to fall in love and break up some hundred thousand times to save each other from dying and in the process break all the readers hearts. Well, that did not happen. There is no spark between them, no longing for each other. I always wanted Seth to die. He is waste of time in the book, really.
God. I wanted to love this book so much. All I ended up doing was reading 200 page novel which left more depressed. I know this the author’s first published book and for that she gets a big hi-fi. I am glad she actually wrote something like this. Though this book was not great, it was still an okay read. I predicted everything and the plot was just what I thought it would. No surprise there. This book is the first in many books that make Genetic Chronicles complete. I really like the name though.
This book gets a 2/5 for characters, 2.5/5 for plot and 2/5 for world building. Three of the most important aspects of a YA dystopian novels.
I don’t recommend this book if you are looking for a thrilling read. However, if you just want to give it a try and help the debut author, I most certainly encourage you. I also warn you to not go into the book with high expectations. You don’t want to be disappointed at the end.