Christine Amsden’s second novel, The Immortality Virus, raises an intriguing question: Is it really all that wonderful to find the secret of immortality and live forever?
It’s the 21st century and the world is being ruled by The Establishment, a totalitarian government made of an elite few. People don’t age any more. As a result, overpopulation has created poverty, hunger, violence, and chaos. People don’t even have empathy for their fellow human beings and cruelty and murder abound. Only the elite few can afford to eat normal food; the rest feed on suspicious, high-protein nutri-bars believed to be made up of human flesh.
At the beginning of the story, our feisty 130-year old PI protagonist, Grace Harper, is hired to complete a mission: she must discover the whereabouts of Jordan Lacklin, the scientist responsible for the ‘virus’ that started The Change about 400 years ago while working on the cure for Alzheimer’s. The secret mission puts Grace’s life in danger. On one side, there are those who want to undo The Change to improve the quality of life and the world; on the other side, there are those who want to keep living forever because they have the means to live in luxury… and they’ll go to extremes to make sure Grace doesn’t complete her mission.
The Immortality Virus is an entertaining, dystopian/science fiction novel with an interesting premise. Grace Harper is a sympathetic, kick-ass heroine: strong, spirited and opinionated. She also has a kind heart that stands out in the cruel society she inhabits. I personally loved her witty comebacks and quirky sense of humor.
Although the story gets a bit slow somewhere around the middle, Amsden offers enough action, twists and turns to keep most readers turning the pages. The dialogue is crisp and natural and helps to keep the pace moving. Amsden uses a lot of dialogue and action scenes, and keeps description and narration at a minimum. If you love dystopian novels with strong heroines and you’re attracted to the subject of immortality, I recommend you give this one a try.