Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Colony by Jillian Weise

For 5,000 dollars a month, would you go live in a colony and allow scientists to poke, prod, analyze, and attempt to modify or mutate your genes? All in the name of stem cell research, of course. Anne Hatley was born with a genetic mutation. Her bones grow exceedingly fast, but one leg didn't grow. She has a stump and she wears the latest state of the art computerized prosthetic. The year is 2015 and stem cell research knows no bounds. She agrees to go to the Colony for testing. Her genetic makeup for amazing bone growth can help a lot of people.

Upon arrival at the Colony, we meet an interesting and somewhat weird cast of characters. A man suffering alzheimers who keeps mice in his beard, a young woman who carries the "fat gene" even tho she isn't fat, a man capable of committing suicide, and a Harley riding bipolar dude. Away from her somewhat pompous boyfriend for a while, Anne begins an affair with the suicial guy, Nick. So while at the Colony, she not only finds herself poked and prodded and pressured, but also begins having inner issues regarding her relationships. Break it off with Grayson, her longtime boyfriend or take a shot with the spontaneous, possibly suicidal Nick? I used the term "pressured" in a sentence up there. Let me explain. the geneticist in charge of her case wants Anne to not only donate her genes for research, but also attempt to use stem cell research to grow her stump into a leg. Anne agrees to the treament but is it for herself or for everybody else? As Anne clearly states, you can't miss something you have never had and, "I'm use to what I'm used to."

Is it really Anne who has a problem with missing a leg or is it everybody else? Is the pain from the treatment going to be worth it? Anne begins to have some second thoughts when the gal with the fat gene begins to literally rise and hover over the ground. Will she finish what she started? And the Grayson, Nick thing... what to do?

Very interesting look at future possibilities and really makes one think about disabilities and how we perceive them on us and on others. I had only one problem with this book.. Every now and then the heroine would meet and talk with Charles Darwin and this was just too weird for me. Um, the man is dead. Did the Colony dig him up and regenerate him? For me, these parts just didn't fit. Thus, 4/5 stars. I also want to note that the author threw in some great pages of fascinating facts. My personal favorite is about the first record of a fake leg (on a woman!). A Queen Vispali "wore a suit of armor, fought on the front lines, lost her leg to battle, was carried to safety." She then found herself a metalworker and had him fashion her a leg out of iron and returned to battle. Imagine how heavy that was. What balls!