Exogene

Once I finished Exogene, and then had time to think about it, I spent an hour ranting at my husband about the unjust and detestable treatment of the Germline warriors. I wanted to know how the military or government could treat human beings like machines, even ones that have been genetically engineered. I wanted him to tell me what possible justification there could be for the abuse, the deplorable behaviour, and how they couldn’t see what I could see; that the Germline warriors were real human beings, with real emotions. But this wasn’t on the news. This wasn’t in the tabloids or broadsheets. It’s fiction presented with such brilliant character insight, such incredible realism that I felt truly angry at the injustice it represented.

It’s rare a book that causes such a visceral response in me, but with Exogene, T.C. McCarthy gets it just right. The story is stark, harrowing and grim but brilliant in its execution. He doesn’t waste words or go into lengthy descriptions, but still says everything he needs to with compact, emotional sentences. He gets the pace spot on, both time and huge distances being covered in a few pages, and yet you feel as if you have lived every one of those steps yourself.

The story is told through the eyes of Catherine, a first generation Germline soldier and being in her head was both tragic and fascinating. There are so many elements to her character, experiencing her indoctrination, watching her sisters embrace their faith or go insane, the decisions she makes rather than just following orders, her only understanding of the world is the one that her creator’s have given to her. As she travels and discovers her own truths, my heart ached for her more and more. Every loss, her constant weariness and even her madness resonated with me. McCarthy has written an utterly believable and realistic female character. Her determination to keep going, to overcome each obstacle and to choose her own path make her a character to be remembered.

Like Germline, I read Exogene in a single day, unable to stop until I had turned the very last page. Then I had to think about it for a while, let the experience wash over me and sort out how I actually felt and how much I had been affected. The story is told in a mixture of present tense, flashbacks and hallucinations and while that might sound confusing, it does work well.

There weren’t as many background characters in this book but we get numerous glimpses of Catherine’s ‘sisters’, both first and second generation. Megan was especially interesting and it was a shock how, almost casually, things changed for her.  Margaret was a more tragic figure, different, but just as engaging, I hope we will see her again. As with the first book, the ending of Exogene did surprise me, but for different reasons. The letter at the end caused a huge emotional response in me and I was left a bit speechless.

Exogene is a heartbreaking, brutal look at near-future warfare that is so far outside my comfort zone it may as well be another dimension. Thankfully, McCarthy manages to ground the story with realistic characters, and delivers a book which challenges and entertains in equal measure.

I truly cannot wait for the third book in this series, to see where T.C. McCarthy will be taking us next.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: T. C. McCarthy
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

The Subterrene War – Exogene (Book 2) out soon!

You know that here at BookThing we loved T. C. McCathy’s Germline.  Seriously, loved it.  You will too, you should probably buy it right now in fact.

Exogene (the 2nd book in the Subterrene War series) is released on March 15th in the UK, and Orbit are ramping up the publicity.  They’ve released some really superb videos, you can view them below!

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

We are super excited about the new book, and these videos give you a really good taste of what to expect.

Irreverent Questions With… T.C. McCarthy

If you are a fan of great science fiction and haven’t yet read Germline, then go and track down a copy in your favourite format now!  I would say I’ll wait but then you will be engrossed and you won’t read the rest of this post so… read this first, then get cracking 😉

It’s an astonishing read; brutal, gritty and full of the reality of those who are fighting a war, even in a futuristic setting.  I can’t wait for Exogene, the next book in the series which is due out in March! If you need more convincing then read my review and then decide.  Either way, T.C. McCarthy was kind enough to agree to being my next victim author for Irreverent Questions.

On with the irreverence!

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
A dog who belonged to a good family, with kids. That way I’d sleep, eat, and play all day (when I wasn’t pooping).

Do you have any rituals or processes before you can start writing?
Yes. I put the kids to bed and then set my alarm for 4 AM so I can get up early enough to have peace and quiet. Ugh.Office

Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.)
I built my own office by renovating an empty room in our house; we were using it for storage and I thought it was time to make it more useful. The two pictures; one is how my space looks right now at 5 AM – dark and out of focus. The grey splotch under the desk is one of my dogs, who is in the other picture, and who keeps my feet warm.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I knew I forgot to do something. Crap!

Whose opinion matters most to you?
This is a fantastic question, and I’d line them in this order, from most to least important: 1. Editor, 2. Reader, 3. Agent, 4. Me.

Do you get fully dressed to write?
I’m in my boxers as I write this, and the manuscript for my next novel is open in another window – so, no? 🙂

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
Positive reviews, negative reviews, the news, and just about anything you could think of. The mood is always there. But the inspiration can come from anywhere, and it’s just important to keep my mind open so I can recognize inspiration when it presents itself.

Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
Either John Malkovich or Steve Buscemi.

What is the weirdest comment you’ve had?
That the genetic soldiers are “male fantasy female supersoldiers.” Uh…no. I don’t fantasize about bald sixteen year olds, and I think this comment says more about its author than it does me. The choice of girl genetics was made to (a) convey a sense of gloom, that future society deteriorates to the point where it replaces women in combat with mass-manufactured girls, and (b) it just seemed really creepy. We get a better look at this society in books II and III. The curious can Google “male fantasy supersoldiers” for more information…

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
Fan mail from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan vets who convey a simple message: that I got it right.

How do you deal with negative comments?
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it’s an honor to be part of the literary or genre debate. I’d rather get negative comments than no comments. So I ignore them when they’re motivated by something other than honest criticism, absorb them when they have value, and try to be grateful that I have a shot at writing novels.

PennyDo you have pets, and if so, describe them?
See the answer to the third question, above! I have four dogs and three kids, so it gets insane around here.

What is your favourite type of music?
I listen to Irish folk, Russian folk, and a lot of punk, shoegazer, and anti-grunge.

Slippers, socks or barefoot?
Barefoot. All the way, barefoot.

Thanks so much to T.C. McCarthy for taking part, and if you want to know more, visit his Website, Facebook or Twitter!

Pictures provided by and used with permission of T.C. McCarthy


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, new feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into Grete’s curious head. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Germline

I started reading Germline about 12.30 this afternoon, intending to read for a little and have a nap.  Now it’s just gone 5pm and I may be a little bleary eyed after no sleep but I just finished the book and then had to take a little time to reflect on it before I wrote the review.

Germline is not an easy read, it has all too realistic scenes of death, insanity and desperation in war, the main character is about the most self-indulgent mess of an anti-hero you could find and even though it’s set in the future, the war is ultimately about who has the most strength to claim what dwindling mineral resources are left, something I can envision all too clearly in our reality.

Having said all that, the book was absolutely amazing.  The clarity of writing and scene descriptions were brilliant and I was able to clearly envision what was going on, even if I didn’t want to.  I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happened next, no matter the outcome and there were more than a few times when I had to take a brief break, just to absorb or pull back from what I’d just read.

I thought the technology T. C. McCarthy created was superb, fit the setting well and it impressed me how easy it was to understand without being led into lengthy jargon on how and why.  From the weaponry, to the armour, even the genetic soldiers all provided everything I needed for a well rounded science fiction novel.

As the book was written in first person perspective, I think it provided a unique look at what was going on in Oscar Wendell’s head.  Starting as a drug-addicted and failing journalist, he had one last chance of redeeming himself with his employers by securing the chance to write an article from the frontlines of the subterrene war in Kazakhstan.  Seeing the war happen from his civilian perspective gave greater impact to what it was really like, the conditions they endure and the edge of sanity they have to dance to get through another night.  The choices he made throughout were both insane yet believable.

I really wanted to hate him.  At first it felt like there was nothing redeeming about him whatsoever, but McCarthy wrote him so cleverly that as he woke up to the reality around him and grew up without wanting to, he sneaked into my mind and a little into my heart.

There was quite a large cast of supporting characters, and a few of the individuals that Oscar meets had quite a major impact on me.  The sheer amount of emotion that the author managed to convey along with these characters, some of them only for a short time was astounding and a testament to a brilliant and empathic writing style.  I have to mention the Brit and the Kid.  I loved both their characters and the fact you never learned their names.

The ending was actually a real surprise for me, I honestly didn’t expect it and I can only give huge props to T. C. McCarthy for making me believe there could be only one outcome for Oscar.

My only negative is that the title of the book and the consequent definition on the back cover aren’t actually used in the book that I recall, and perhaps it wasn’t needed as you now knew what it meant. Due to the definition though, I was expecting something a little different but I was in no way disappointed with what I got.

The pace of the book was fast and unrelenting, leading to me not being able to put it down unless I had to.  The plot was both original and interesting and actually very hard to describe so all I can say is read Germline.  Then get back to me 😉

A gripping close up of a futuristic war in all it’s gritty, brutal, dark and horrific glory.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: T. C. McCarthy
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)