Review: C Square by Paul Barone & Bear Kosik

★★★★ C Square

Imagining what the world will be like in the future is the core of science fiction writing, and while those possibilities are not always pleasant to face, they are always based – in part – on the direction our society is currently moving. In C Square, the world has certainly evolved beyond what we know now, but it is not so distant to be unbelievable. Authors Paul Barone and Bear Kosik delivers a thrilling story of genetic perfection.

Normal people are known as Organics in this world, while Chosen are those that have been partially genetically engineered with ideal qualities and skills. C Squares, on the other hand, are people who have perfectly engineered genetics on both sides of their parentage, often making them specialists, experts and leaders throughout the world. Susannah Markovic is a Chosen, making her a virtuoso in her field, working at Genilo, the genetic research brainchild of Dr. Nilo. She’s not particularly adept at social engagement, and is cursed with a passion for men with broken noses.

Dr. Adam Nilo is the other main player in this story, a genius beyond measure, who revolutionized the way the world thinks about medicine and physics by the time he was 30. He also happens to be blessed with one of those crooked noses. He is embarking on a quest to re-engineer life itself, proving to himself and the world that his seemingly godlike mind is essentially limitless.

The parallels to Frankenstein are not subtle or avoided in this book, but the scale and scope of that existential story gets a futuristic makeover. From the very beginning, it becomes clear where the story will lead – to the creation of a monster – but the journey to arrive there is well worth the read. The writing is full of fascinating technical details, as though the authors have already been to the future and has seen what it holds for us. At times the amount of detail is somewhat dense, but surprisingly this works in the book’s favor, making it more believable, and the descriptions of this futuristic world are never dull.

From Nilo’s artificial personal assistant to the mystery surrounding Susannah’s newfound “motherhood,” this book packs in quite a few red herrings and bizarre plot twists, without ever losing its ultimate direction. It is a thriller, a comedy and a sci-fi saga all rolled into one, and the authors skillfully dart from one tone to the next, often within the same scene. A good deal of philosophical musing also makes its way into the text, forcing readers to ask the important question:  just because we can do something, does it mean that we should?

There are a few errors in grammar, spelling, and sentence structure, and there are some strangely abrupt cliffhanger endings to certain chapters, but the overall reading experience is engaging. Some readers might find the subject matter a bit too thick with technical detail, but that is what makes the novel so immersive.

By the halfway point, readers are fully transported to this futuristic world, and with a dynamic cast of intriguing, unique characters, it is impossible not to be sucked into the unpredictable depths of C Square.

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C Square