Ballista Press (2019)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (02/19)
In “Cognition” by Jacques St-Malo, the exciting intrigue unfolds not too far into the future. It all begins, in the middle east, when the infant son of a deceased crown prince is sent into hiding with a trusted servant. The child’s mother sends him away to save him, because their kingdom, which is the last of its kind, is about to fall. The child and the servant are unaware of the secrets that surround his conception, but there are others who know the truth and are either opposed to his existence or will search for him so that they can access the key that he holds in his genes, for world dominance.
Science plays a huge role in this suspenseful thriller. During this time the wealthy elite can conceive through in vitro fertilization, and for an extra price, they pay for germline manipulation. This is a process in which genes are deliberately modified. This creates huge ethical concerns because not only is this procedure done to remove potential genetic health disorders, but it is also used for aesthetic purposes such as determining skin color, height and eye color. It results in artificial chromosomes being implanted into human beings. In addition to ethical considerations, there are also concerns that illnesses can be created specifically to destroy people who match certain genetic criteria. Individuals created with this process make up less than two percent of the population, however, there are people who feel that these “extrasomatics,” are given unfair advantages limited to only those families that can afford it.
In “Cognition,” a whole political party was created to try to defeat extrasomatics. Unfortunately, for the protagonist, he is not only targeted by this group, but also by different factions that are literally out for his blood.
“Cognition” immediately captured my attention and I found myself unable to put this novel down. The characters are well developed and intriguing. I was impressed with the author’s ability to write in a manner that allows the story to flow effortlessly, despite the complexity of the plotline. His vivid descriptions bring the scenes to life. In my mind, I was able to clearly see everything as it was happening. The blend of politics, science, ethics and romance, creates the perfect thriller. This is not the novel for a reader who wants something light, rather it is the perfect novel for someone who is looking for a suspenseful thriller that is also unnervingly realistic. I highly recommend “Cognition” by Jacques St-Malo for that reader.