Sunday, August 5, 2018

Book Review: Alterations (Alterations Trilogy Book 1) by Jane Suen

How Much Would You Risk to Get Your Mind Right?

It’s hard to imagine me ignoring a book about a doctor who claimed to have “…an implant that can control” the human mind (author’s synopsis).  Yes, technothrillers are among my favorites and Alterations involves some amazing tech.  In this first installment in the trilogy of the same name, we are introduced to three women – Gigi, Ellen, Lilly – each with problems that have dominated their lives.  They want a change, they’re desperate for one.  Enter Doctor Kite, who has something for each of them.  So, they roll the dice on a shady doctor and an unproven implant.  Now, what could possibly go wrong in that scenario…?

I enjoyed the forward-looking nature of Alterations, because devices that allow us to share thoughts appear to be in our near future.  Could replacing memories be far behind?  But author Suen doesn’t stop there.  Rather, she creates three variants to Kite’s implants – “one to cure illnesses and heal injuries, one to re-sculpture and lose fat, and one to rejuvenate and reverse the aging process.”  And finally, add the fact that these changes occur quickly – within moments in at least one case.  Now, the forward-looking technology around which the suspense and drama was to be built looks a bit farfetched, a bit of a McGuffin.  But it’s still interesting food for thought.

The pace of Alterations was good, with the characters moving from problem, to hoped-for solution, to complication extremely quickly in this 110-page book.  But character development paid the price.  Flashbacks help us understand the women’s desperation better.  But most of these scenes are a retelling of a memory, rather than having us live their pain.  And the mental anguish that must have occurred before any of them put themselves in Kite’s hands is missing.  Having the reader feel rather than just read about the women’s suffering and helplessness would have improved the suspense.

Overall, Alterations is an interesting and fast-paced look at the risks three women were willing to take to change their lives based on the promise of a new technology.  A closer look into what drove these women would have improved the suspense even more.

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