****I received the book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review****
“Chromosomes” is a great action-packed page turner. Despite the ominous cover and mildly scary synopsis of a young girl who gets abducted on her birthday and is kept imprisoned by a mad scientist to be tossed at a young man who is not all—and more—than he appears to be, this book is more young adult in its nature than horror, or even thriller. But that’s what I liked best about it. Its themes feel familiar, it has heavy doses of science fiction, mixed in with young adult and romance genres, but everything flowed well together. Reynolds tells this story in first person from the eyes of Emma, and I loved it. First person is such a hard perspective to write in, and the author did a marvelous job, making Emma, and everyone (and thing) she encounters feel authentic, and gripping. I had to force myself to put the book down and get back to work on more than one occasion!
However, I feel like I need to put a trigger warning for this book, despite how much I enjoyed it. There is a lot of violence against women in Reynolds story, as well as themes of sexual harassment/abuse. It fits with the story and the mad scientist vibe that Reynolds wants to portray, but just know that those themes are present so if you have a hard time with things like that, this book may not be right for you. Even with the themes though, I struggle to rate this book out of its young adult genre given Emma’s relationship with Holden. So, just consider yourself forewarned.
Unlike a lot of YA books I’ve read, the romance in this book feels exceptionally genuine. Emma knows her feelings are crazy, but recognizes that her body is responding on a (mostly) physical level—at first. That transition is done so well, too! It makes the reader just as hesitant as Emma is, and ultimately forgiving the love interest despite, well, the things he does that I can’t tell you because of spoilers. However, Emma does fall into a trope about 70% into the book, one that was always there, but I forgave because there’s a lot being thrown at her, and she’s struggling to make sense of it while also trying not to get hysterical. She is a classic damsel in distress, getting thrown around and constantly needing to be rescued. It does work for most of the book, but towards the end, I found myself wishing she’d save herself just this once, that she’d be strong and fight back—that she’d be a hero. Perhaps Emma grows more in the next book (which I don’t know if there is—but I’ll get to that), but it did start to bother me close to the end. Not enough to make me hate the story by any means, but it did diminish my good feelings somewhat.
For the most part, “Chromosomes” is a very well told story and there was very little I didn’t like about the book. That being said, it did need one more round of edits as I began spotting a handful of awkward sentences and spelling / grammatical errors. It wasn’t too bad, but it was there and after a while, I couldn’t stop seeing it. Additionally, the ending was a bit odd.
The book is a complete story, even with the rather unsatisfying ending, but it was complete. And then the last paragraph happens and suddenly … I’m not so sure if the book IS complete. Which makes me think there is—or will be—a sequel. I kind of hope there will be one, for I really did enjoy reading about Emma and the crazy science facility she gets taken to, but I’m not entirely sure what the next book would be about, either, precisely because there is a lot of finality to how Reynolds ended this story (can’t say what or how because of spoilers, again). It makes me a bit skeptical, and doesn’t alleviate the otherwise sort-of-unsatisfying ending, leaving me confused as to how I really felt about this book, for there was so much I genuinely enjoyed about the story! But with the (minor) issues with editing, the damsel in distress trope, and the ending, I can’t give this book a full 5 stars, but it’s definitely above a 4, as well. So, I’ll give it a 4.75 instead, and cross my fingers for a sequel!
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