Exogene (Subterrene War 2) by T. C. McCarthy [Book Review]

The Jeanne d’Arc of G

War is a horrible thing and that really came across in the first book Germline last year. But how does it change when your point of view character is a genetically engineered soldier breed and trained not to fear. T. C. McCarthy does a great job at it. The female soldiers of the American forces brought up on the Holy Combat Manual and fight until their 18th birthday when they start to spoil.

The protagonist of Exogene is one of the first G’s ever made, and she is special in other ways too, which we learn later.  We join Catherine and her friend Megan as they are about to join the fighting together with a batch of second generation Gs. Her best friend Megan is a Lily, one of the incorruptible leaders of the Gs’. This is very much a story about being human and that brings the question what kind of society uses genetically engineered beings of human intelligence as utilities of war. In a way it also raises the question what kind of society sends its children to war. Which itself is another can of worms.

The story takes us through the back alleys of the war as Catherine starts to spoil/become aware of her situation. Her upbringing/indoctrination starts to crumble. I enjoyed the flashbacks to their training which helped to illuminate her inner conflict. The quote from the Modern Combat Manual at the start of each chapter is another nice touch.

This is another great military science fiction by T. C. McCarthy. It doesn’t glorify war, rather the opposite. It is a strong human story and the female protagonist is an extra plus. I enjoyed this one as much as the first one. Now I can’t wait on the third and last book, which we can expect this summer.

Book Information

Exogene (Subterrene War 2) by T. C. McCarthy (Orbit)  uk us

Exogene (n.): factor or agent (as a disease-producing organism) from outside the organism or system. Also: classified Russian program to merge proto-humanoids with powered armor systems (slang).

Catherine is a soldier. Fast, strong, lethal, she is the ultimate in military technology. She’s a monster in the body of an eighteen year old girl. Bred by scientists, grown in vats, indoctrinated by the government, she and her sisters will win this war, no matter the cost.

And the costs are high. Their life span is short; as they age they become unstable and they undergo a process called the spoiling. On their eighteenth birthday they are discharged. Lined up and shot like cattle.

But the truth is, Catherine and her sisters may not be strictly human, but they’re not animals. They can twist their genomes and indoctrinate them to follow the principles of Faith and Death, but they can’t shut off the part of them that wants more than war. Catherine may have only known death, but she dreams of life and she will get it at any cost.