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Book Review: The Enclave by Karen Hancock

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The Kendall-Jakes Longevity Institute is a literal monument to science, creativity, and the ability of man to rise above his limitations: a black glass ziggurat in the Arizona desert, labs and conference rooms interspersed with rainforest atriums, coffee bars, and incredible views. True, the Institute’s director, the globe-trotting, womanizing Parker Swain, once fell out of favour with the world for his daring experiments — but that only makes his hard-fought triumphs more admirable.

Working at Kendall-Jakes means prestige, the chance to work on the cutting edge of genetics, funding, community.

Or at least, it’s supposed to. For Lacey McHenry, newly arrived with a Masters, more debt than she can handle, and a gut-level need to transcend the disappointments of life thus far, Kendall-Jakes has meant three weeks of tending frog tanks, cleaning up after absent-minded geneticist Cameron Reinhardt, and foregoing sleep.

Stressed and unhappy, Lacey is unprepared to encounter a stinking, musclebound young thug in the animal lab, a violent and deranged intruder who has somehow slipped past KJ’s infamous security. Saved by the arrival of Reinhardt, Lacey is even more unprepared to be labeled a case for the psych ward, to have her story turned into a “hallucination” and the deep cut on her arm turned overnight into a scar. Nothing at KJ is what it seems, not even her own life.

Cameron Reinhardt is similarly unprepared for the encounter, one that triggers his struggles with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and threatens to unearth memories he’s spent years burying. A devout Christian, Cam is appalled at the Institute’s treatment of Lacey and is forced to admit that his dream of research and freedom at Kendall-Jakes is a nightmare he’s not sure he can escape.

For the Institute’s secrets are ancient, everywhere underfoot, deadly — and determined to ensnare Cam and Lacey completely.

The Enclave is a scientific thriller along the lines of Michael Crichton, a throat-grabbing story that spans centuries and chronicles man’s efforts to become God even while trying to escape Him. Its characters, from the megalomaniac Swain, whose dreams are nonetheless poignant, to the convincingly torn Cameron Reinhardt, are entirely human. Plot twists and mysteries aside, I read this book to find out what would happen to the characters. They mattered. Their struggles with faith and integrity and hope resounded with me.

Even God, who reaches into the lives of several characters and interacts with them, is portrayed faithfully — when He speaks, the dialogue uses the words of scripture; when He acts, it’s in ways consistent with the God revealed in the Bible. The role of the Bible itself was especially moving, as the author shows its power to illuminate and give us hope.

The Enclave is well-written, intelligent, intriguing. Violence and sexuality make it a PG-13 read. For discerning readers who enjoy thrills, speculation, and stories about people living by real faith, I recommend this one.

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About Rachel Starr Thomson

  • “…a throat-grabbing story that spans centuries and chronicles man’s efforts to become God even while trying to escape Him.” Hmmm…shades of The Lost Symbol perhaps? Sounds like a fun, thought provoking read. Thanks for the review!