How many of negative reviews have I started saying “but the cover looked so pretty!” while making reference to the fact that there is an aphorism against making inferences about outward appearances that literally tells you not to judge a book by its cover? I don’t learn well, apparently, as I’m always doing the literary equivalent of picking up shiny objects and putting them in my mouth.
(It’s so pretty! The picture doesn’t do the color intensity justice)
Yeah. I bought this after seeing someone on my shuttle to work reading it and being really intrigued by the title and cover. I bet that sparkly rock tastes great.
Well, this time it did.
It hooked me almost immediately with the premise – a cosmetics company pulls a Jurassic Park and tinkers with nature in a way it’s completely unequipped to handle. Lyle Fontanelle, lead scientist for NewYew cosmetics, creates a skin cream that initially restores collagen, but adjustments to the formula result in it doing much much more. Lyle is horrified and NewYew is thrilled to realize it overwrites DNA, and the company markets it as a beauty supplement to avoid FDA regulation. People are able to alter their appearance by overwriting their DNA with healthier or more attractive people.
Of course, this all has negative implications that aren’t exactly spoilers when each chapter begins with the countdown to the end of the world.
How it all goes wrong is what makes the book great, so I’ll avoid going into too much detail, but I’ll admit disappointment with the ending. I wish Wells had been a bit tighter with his character stable, as the last 50 pages or so seem disconnected from what went before, but all in all this was great. Wells does what all great sci-fi writers do, taking a high-concept premise and really thinking through its implications – Fontanelle finding out one of ReBirth’s test subjects died because his blood type conflicted with the type he was being overwritten with was particularly clever. I’m inflating my 4.5 star review to a 5 because I’m keeping this one, and I’m keeping so few books lately.
You can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I’m glad this one was pretty enough to make me want to give it a try.