Monday, February 2, 2015

Reader's Review: "For None of Woman Born" by S. D. Curran

Synopsis from Amazon:
Ricardo Guerra is the CEO of HyperTech Solutions, a manufacturer of cerebral implants in the heart of Mexico City. When he buys out a company known for its illicit cloning practices, his company attracts the attention of Charlie Duesenberg, who conducts an investigation. Fearing his company will be fined and himself replaced, he enlists the help of a mercenary and a psychotic hitman to take care of Charlie. Their solution: have a clone made of Charlie Duesenberg and have the clone replace the original. All goes well until Ricardo realizes the people he put in charge of the cloning process have made a terrible mistake. 
Charlie is female. The clone is male.
My Review:
That blurb, though! Typically for these reviews, the blurb comes as an afterthought, or I end up hearing about the novel first, and then reading the blurb after I started reading the book.

I don't think I have ever read a blurb quite like it, though, in terms of intrigue and nearly-dropping-my-device-in-shock factor... I read the words "The clone is male" and I was overcome with the urge to read the book at the very next instant! The author was kind enough to donate a book for the review, and I started reading right away.

If I thought the blurb was good... It was (as it should be) merely a taste of the adventure contained within. I enjoyed Curran's balanced view of cloning and bioethics and eugenics and whatnot. So many theatricals on the issue of cloning present existential crises and moral dilemmas to confuse the mind and the author gets lost in his own brilliance. 
Curran instead presents the mindset of clones as distinct persons, as separate as their physical bodies, and capable of taking the exact same memories (because the clone does not exactly have the experience to go along with the sensations) and drawing remarkably different conclusions.
Around this is a breathtaking landscape of intrigue, espionage, corporate scruples, family dynamics, prejudices, and vivid characters. 
In fact the characters just might be my favorite part. Curran presents each new character in a different style that inevitably fits the sort of character they are: from deeply detail-oriented, persnickety Carol and her twenty steps of preparing a three-course dinner to the gut-twistingly horrible Dennis and his twenty methods of torturing a person. Even such "insignificant roles" as the two techs charged with manufacturing the clone are given names and personalities that endear them to the reader and give them their own place in the story.
I loved the fact that, yes, there was a bit about God and Christianity and church woven into some of the conversations about ethics and whatnot--but Curran isn't at all "preachy" about it. Take it or leave it--the things discussed made a difference in one character and yet not in others. The reader isn't expected to take one side or the other on the issues faced by the characters; we are only driven to empathize with the protagonists and despise the antagonists. The gender portrayals are balanced, the action is timed to perfection, and even the technology is not so far-fetched as to be readily dismissed; there is ample food for thought at every twist of the plot!
Through it all, Curran pulls us deeply into the lives of his main characters, and builds the tension so clearly and artfully that I could not stop thinking about this book till I had finished it!

Five stars and a Hearty Recommendation from The Upstream Writer!