Wednesday, April 12, 2017

ARC Review: Change Agent by Daniel Suarez

Change Agent
Author: Daniel Suarez
Publication: Dutton (April 18, 2017)

Description: On a crowded train platform, Interpol agent Kenneth Durand feels the sting of a needle—and his transformation begins...

In 2045 Kenneth Durand leads Interpol’s most effective team against genetic crime, hunting down black market labs that perform "vanity edits" on human embryos for a price. These illegal procedures augment embryos in ways that are rapidly accelerating human evolution—preying on human-trafficking victims to experiment and advance their technology.

With the worlds of genetic crime and human trafficking converging, Durand and his fellow Interpol agents discover that one figure looms behind it all: Marcus Demang Wyckes, leader of a powerful and sophisticated cartel known as the Huli jing.

But the Huli jing have identified Durand, too. After being forcibly dosed with a radical new change agent, Durand wakes from a coma weeks later to find he’s been genetically transformed into someone else—his most wanted suspect: Wyckes.

Now a fugitive, pursued through the genetic underworld by his former colleagues and the police, Durand is determined to restore his original DNA by locating the source of the mysterious—and highly valuable—change agent. But Durand hasn’t anticipated just how difficult locating his enemy will be. With the technology to genetically edit the living, Wyckes and his Huli jing could be anyone and everyone—and they have plans to undermine identity itself.

My Thoughts: This near future science fiction story talks about a future world that has changed immensely because of developments in biology and genetic engineering. In this world genes can be edited to create the baby you want. Kenneth Durand works with Interpol to shut down illegal labs that are custom-designing babies. He has been too successful. He has drawn the attention of the cartel who controls this illegal genetic engineering.

Ken is injected with a "change agent" which rewrites his DNA and makes him genetically and physically the identical double of Marcus Demang Wyckes, the head of the Huli jing who is wanted all over the world for his many crimes. Ken survives the transition which wasn't what the Huli jing actually wanted. Only, now he needs to convince his colleagues in Interpol that he is not Wyckes. Since the technique used on him was supposed to be impossible, this isn't easy. He is also on the run from Wyckes' right hand man who wants him dead to get the heat off the real Wyckes.

Meanwhile, Ken wants to stop Wyckes and his society-changing plans and get his own body and DNA back. He wants to get back to his beloved wife and daughter and will do what is necessary to make it happen.

The story takes place in Southeast Asia which has become the center of the new science and society. On his journey to find Wyckes, Ken finds colleagues and assistance from a variety of sources including rebel ethnic groups who are fighting corrupt governments and scientists who might just be on the shady side.

The story was fast paced but a little to scientifically detailed for this non-scientist reader. I have no idea how much of the science is possible but I found it all disturbingly plausible. Fans of hard science fiction will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
There needed to be a brief exception in his life -- an ethics time-out. A moment of selfishness. Just one, and he would get back to who he'd been. He felt the quicksand swallowing him as he realized he was going to do this. That, in fact, people had already died so that he could reach the seat he was in right now, in this macabre showroom.
I got this one in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

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