*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Grace’s nine-year-old son, Jordan, is dying. First, the Metagenesis disease will tear his soul from his body, and then it will kill him. Desperate for a cure, Grace agrees to take part in an illegal clinical trial cloning souls. Supported by her best friend Kay, the two embark on the ultimate “Vegas Vacation” to the past in search of the right soul to clone, racing against time to save Jordan’s life. But someone is trying to stop them and when they discover why Grace must make a choice: let her son die or kill her husband. If she kills her husband, she triggers widespread Metagenesis, sealing the fate of the human race with a new plague.
Humanity is counting on Grace choosing to let her son die.
Hamartia is a dystopian sci-fi novel featuring a plague of the soul and time travel.
The main character is Grace and we follow her viewpoint as she embarks on a quest into the past to steal a soul to save her dying child. Grace is under unbearable pressure from the very start of the novel and as the plot progresses she makes selfish, misguided or impulsive decisions that serve to embroil her deeper in the nefarious plot she stumbles into.
Grace is very easy to empathise with, but quite a difficult character to like, as her logic is often flawed and she reacts erratically to situations, refusing to listen to anyone, even when she admits she could be wrong and they right. It is hard to blame her on that last point though as while Grace’s motives are pure and honest (if morally dubious at times), not a single other character can be trusted, and she is therefore isolated in her state of emotional distress in a foreign time.
I was quite surprised that the stated timeline of the book was 80 years in the past to the year 2000, as the ‘future’ aspect of the novel felt like it should be hundreds of years ahead of our own time with the Metagenesis plague rampant, ‘link’ travel and the apparent elimination of country/language barriers (according to Grace and Kay). It seemed a little odd that Grace and Kay would be reliant on Dr. Messie and his assistant for things like knowing what to wear or how to carry money when they aren’t going that far into the past!
Similarly I was surprised at the lack of mobile phones and internet access in both 2000 and the future, with Grace and Kay reliant on physical phone books, payphones and pagers in their search. These time-based details lead me to believe that the novel is actually set in an alternate reality similar to, but not the same as, our own. Perhaps the time travel messes with reality in more ways than one?! This fits in neatly with the author’s exploration of how actions in the past can change things (or not) in unexpected ways.
There were quite a few twists and turns throughout the novel, especially at the ending, which I didn’t see coming at all. It was particularly interesting to note the limitations and difficulties of affecting change in the future via actions in the past when the knowledge you have is unreliable and incomplete. If only Grace knew what was going on, who to trust, or would listen to… anyone at all! The information she needs to suceed is there in the plot, but it is cleverly obfuscated by some of the very characters she is forced to rely upon.
Hamartia is an adrenaline-fuelled time travel tale based around the concept of soul-reincarnation and soul-loss. The word means ‘a fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine’ (Google dictionary), and this is perfectly encapsulated in the main character’s stubborn inability to change her course. It will be interesting to see how the character develops in the upcoming sequel, Deus Ex Machina and whether the human race can survive either the Metagenesis or the ‘cure’!
There are a lot of things riding on “if”s. If Marc is my soulmate. If I find his past life. If we make it back home. If Jordan hasn’t lost his soul to Metagenesis while we’re gone… I feel that churning in my stomach again, forcing a chill up my spine yet making me sweat. If all those things fall into place, maybe Jordan will be the first survivor of this disease, and then the whole world will benefit from the cure. Metagenesis could be abolished. I don’t trust Dr. Messie–all the secrecy I’m bound to terrifies me. Yet I have to trust he’ll cure my son because I feel mankind is counting on me; they just don’t know it. I am desperate to trust someone, though: Kay, the assistant. Anyone.
– Raquel Rich, Hamartia
Hamartia is available on Amazon right now!