3 out of 4 stars
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There’s something about coincidence that begs for a story. I don’t know what it is, but I think a story without coincidences is one that wouldn’t work. After all, you need things to line up just right for your narrative to progress, and that’s not possible without them.
The thing about Jardine Henry Hart’s Rogue Genes isn’t that it has coincidences in the story. It’s that it’s built on them. Everything about the book’s story falls into place so neatly it stretches the bounds of credibility.
So why would I give it 3 out of 4 stars then?
Well, it has to do with how much joy I got out of it.
Following Tommy McConachie through a whirlwind of a few weeks, Rogue Genes is the tale of his family. More accurately, it’s the story of how Tommy loses his adoptive mother, only to discover his connection to two separate, yet coincidentally connected, families.
The Steels and the Gleesons each have their own pull on Tommy, and each connection brings with it its own set of danger from which he can’t escape. The problem is, escape isn’t what Tommy wants, not exactly.
To say that I enjoyed this book is an understatement. Each page teased the next one and I couldn’t wait to get to it. That I gave in to the pressures of daily life and didn’t devour the book instead was a close thing, and one that I’m grateful to my family for putting up with.
Tommy was so likeable that, given the chance, I might have ignored everything just to read more about him. Adopted by the nurse who helped his biological mother give birth, he’s all charm and playfulness right up until you cross him. Then may God help your soul. He will stop at nothing to get his revenge, no matter who stands in his way.
However, that anger and violence is as equally matched by his passion and love. It’s a major part of why I liked the book.
Tommy is too perfect, at first. He’s the perfect son, good enough to get into the army’s Special Forces, supposedly a great lover and more. Yet, when he falls for Claire Steel, we get to see the side of him that doubts. We get to see him falter and wonder and hesitate over his decisions.
We also get to see him fail, if only for a moment, and that’s the part I liked best about the book. It showed us that Tommy isn’t as perfect as he’s made out to be, and that he could be just like the rest of us.
The other characters are mostly as likeable as he is. Claire, for example, is a delight to read. She’s not a damsel but she’s not an action hero either. She’s simply a woman who loves Tommy and has her own life. There’s also Sam, the daughter of the Gleeson family, who’s described as a predator and yet, she also has a soft side that only adds to her strength.
Unfortunately, the book does have its cons. In addition to several errors, the characters, while dynamic, are rather shallow. There isn’t anything to them beneath the surface, making the coincidences that bring them together more unbelievable than they should be. The coincidences themselves are also too numerous and they make certain parts of the book, such as the late introduction of a mystical aspect, seem more than a bit nonsensical.
All in all, this is a flawed book. While I stand by my rating, I wish there was more depth and that each coincidence was more meaningful. That being said, it’s a delightful read if you want something light and fast-paced, and thriller fans will love it. Fair warning, though. There’s some light erotica and brief mentions of rape within the book itself.
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