Author: Rosa Montero; translator Lilit Zekulin Thwaites
Publication: AmazonCrossing (November 27, 2012)
Description: Death is inevitable. Especially when you have an expiration date.
As a replicant, or “techno-human,” Detective Bruna Husky knows two things: humans bioengineered her to perform dangerous, undesirable tasks; and she has just ten years on the United States of Earth before her body automatically self-destructs. But with “anti-techno” rage on the rise and a rash of premature deaths striking her fellow replicants, she may have even less time than she originally thought.
Investigating the mysterious deaths, Bruna delves into the fractious, violent history shared by humans and replicants, and struggles to engage the society that fails to understand her—yet created her. The deeper she gets, the deadlier her work becomes as she uncovers a vast, terrifying conspiracy bent on changing the very course of the world. But even as the darkness of her reality closes in, Bruna clings fiercely to life.
My Thoughts: This was an entertaining science fiction mystery that was as much an exploration of what it means to live with an expiration date as it was a mystery. Bruna Husky is a replicant. Replicants were created to do the dangerous, undesirable tasks in life. They were created to have a limited lifespan. Bruna was a combat rep and, after her term of service was over, she became a detective.
She gets involved in a case that gets more and more complex when a fellow rep comes to her apartment and tries to kill her. The rep had been injected with false memories that told her to kill Bruna. Bruna gets involved in investigating the growing conflict between replicants and normal humans.
The book was filled with interesting characters from the man who created Bruna's memories and was also accused and then acquitted of murdering his rich uncle to the police detective who was raised by a replicant. Bruna doesn't know who she can trust as each of those men try to convince her that the other is not trustworthy. There are also a couple of alien characters in the story - Maio who slept with her and can now read her mind and Bartolo who is an alien pet with a penchant for eating anything in sight.
The strongest character, of course, was Bruna herself who is constantly counting down the days of her life. She is very aware of the passage of time as she counts down to her expiration date. Replicants live about ten years and then die of a terrible systemic cancer. Bruna has decided that the best way for her to get through life is by not getting close to anyone else. She once loved a fellow replicant and watched him die. But she still makes friends and lets people into her life.
One of her best friends in Yiannis who is an archivist and who cared for her when her lover died. Parts of the story, especially the world-building, are seen in archival documents that Yiannis reads and edits. We see the anti-replicant plot building through those archival documents.
Science fiction readers will enjoy this story both for the strong characters and the complex world-building. My only complaint was that the identification of the villain of the piece seemed to come without warning and to be of little importance. Bruna's attitude toward life took center stage.
There wasn't a replicant alive who didn't have such a collection of rubbishy trinkets; even though the reps knew that the objects were false, they continued to hold a sort of magic, to offer solace and companionship. Just as paraplegics dreamed about walking when they wore virtual eyeglasses, so reps dreamed about having roots when they looked at the artificially aged pieces in their glory box. And in both cases, despite knowing the truth, they were happy. Or less unhappy.I was sent a copy of this ARC by Wunderkind PR in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.