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Publisher's Summary

George Galen is a brilliant scientist, a pioneer in gene therapy. But Galen is dangerously insane. He has created a method to alter human DNA, not just to heal diseases, but also to "improve" people - make them stronger, make them able to heal more quickly...and make them compliant to his will.

Frank Hartman is also a brilliant virologist, working for the government's ultra-secret biohazard agency. He has discovered how to neutralize Galen's DNA-changing virus. Now he is the one man who stands in the way of Galen's plan to "improve" the entire human race.

This taut thriller takes the listener a few years into the future and shows the promise and danger of new genetic medicine techniques.

©2007 Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"[An] intriguing medical thriller...raises pertinent regulatory questions." (Publishers Weekly)
"Pace, characterization, and chilling suspense all polished to a high gloss." (Booklist)

What members say

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It pains me.

It pains me to write bad things about Card as he is my favorite author, but sometimes you have to call a dud a dud. Don't get me wrong for some authors this would be a masterpiece, but out of Card we expect better.

This starts out as a poor imitation of Michael Crichton, then moves into an ok imitation of Dean Koontz and finishes as Stephanie Myers. Sprinkled through are touches of Card, such as characters questioning themselves and there inner strife.

At one point a 40 year old in the future references the Marx Brothers. I am 54 and living now and I would never reference the Marx Brothers. The amount of endless debate in action situations is unbelievable. These people are trying to escape a building, time is an issue and they are debating the most minute details. In one part Card gives a boy lessons on how to be a coward.

There is a lot here on genetics. I really liked the part where a megalomaniac makes four copies of himself in order to better rule the world, yet he is too stupid to figure out that four copies of himself would try to kill each other.

Before there was Scalzi and Wheaton, there was Card and Rudnicki. Rudnicki does an excellent job.

If you have never read Card, please don't start here. Card has written the best sci-fi book ever in "Enders Game". You must read that. Then if you want great fantasy read Seventh Son and the two books that follow, skip the rest in that series. For scary read Treasure Box. Hart's Hope is real good and Songmaster is Card in a nutshell.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Carl
  • Cupertino, CA, USA
  • 06-17-08

I should have read the reviews

Orson, Orson, what happened here? On your worst days you are better than this. Tedious, uninspired, boring, predictable, juvenile and, let's not mince words, just plain awful. Please don't ever do this again.

I couldn't bear to hear the last two hours of the book. Listen carefully, that sound you hear is me flinging this virtual book out my virtual window.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • El Cerrito, CA, United States
  • 02-21-10

reads like the worst of robin cook

I frankly find it hard to believe that Orson Scott Card had anything to do with this. Unbelievably bad writing - terrible cliches, two dimensional characters, with a dumb plot.

It's also got to be hard to make potentially fascinating science (gene therapy) so boring. I just don't know how this one got out the door.

Purely sold on Card's name; I can only hope that the writing is mostly Mr. Johnston's, but I fully put the responsibility on Orson Scott Card who should have stopped such an awfully produced project.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Orson you're better than this

Unfortunately Mr. Card has set such a high standard since Ender's Game that we greet each work with "great expectations." The narration is the best feature of this book since the original narrator for Mr. Card's works, with his fantastic voice and pacing, is on board. But this plot is time-worn and the characters are uninteresting (frankly some are downright annoying). Perhaps having a co-author is the problem here. Has Orson run out of ideas? Will he go the way of James Petterson and just stamp out mass produced pulp? Please, turn back the clock and let the ideas flow like the past. If you're burned out, Orson, rest up...

10 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Any additional comments?

I was hooked within 10 minutes of starting this story. In true Card style I was quickly whisked away into a world of the "almost possible and potentially probable" alternate reality he presented.
The characters flew to life for me, and I felt connected almost intimately to their feelings.
Fiction that completely lifts you out of reality and places you into an entirely new world is rare but this story did it with flare! I was loathe to turn it off and saddened when my visit into their world was over and the tale finished.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • David
  • Port Lavaca, TX, United States
  • 01-12-13

i liked it

i dont see why a lot of people dont like this one.
i liked it.
read the story line, try the simple, read all the reviews.
must be kids that dont like this.
Stefan Rudnicki is a good narrater.
im glad i took the chance.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Orson, What Were You Thinking?

Orson Scott Card. Need I say anything else? Well, maybe Ender's Game?

So, how did this make it to a published novel, AND an audiobook? Hmmm. It may have to do with the fact that he's written SO MANY wonderful works, that the editors closed their eyes and okayed this disappointing literary let-down.

It rambles. It stumbles. It mumbles. It shambles. And like a zombie, it is a pointless and dangerous thing. Why, you ask? Simple. You may mistake this tragedy for the author's typical writing.

Not so!

Please, dear listener, avoid this mess, and go to the author's premiere work, the Ender's Game series. THAT will amaze you into reading the next in the series. And the next. And so on.

This author is WONDERFUL. Tragically, this audiobook is NOT.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Lost (not in) the Details

Ok, first I must say that I enjoy Orson Scott Card's works immensely. However, this one I only kinda enjoyed. The concept was good, and I believe original. The story line was good, though rather predictable. The details, though, had me pulling my hair out. The story is set in the not too distance year is given, but that is obvious from cues in the text. But suddenly we went back 40 years to using IV needles (instead of plastic catheters) in patients? If you have ever had an IV in the past 50 years and pulled it out (after it has been inserted, and already in use), you were probably holding a plastic catheter, not a sharp metal needle. Similarly, gurneys have not been "strapped" into ambulances for decades--they are held by metal brackets and latches. Early in the book an pivotal "anti-virus" is described at great length as being red in color, and the reason for the coloration is given. At the end of the book it is green. These are just examples, there are others. Perhaps because of my background in the military and medicine I zoomed in on these and other points more readily, but I think that the average reader/listener would pick up on them too. If you are just looking for something to wile away half-a-day and are willing to gloss over the fine points, this book is a good one. Otherwise...

10 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • M. Mays
  • Arlington, MN United States
  • 01-05-08

Not as expected.....

I thought Orson Scott Card would have done a better job with this book. I felt it to be a bit lame in spots. Perhaps I missed the overview and it was meant to be read by a juvenile, as that was how it was written.It had some good points and entertainment value of 3 but was far too predictable and difficult to conceive as even remotely plausable which for me gives it an edge.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • David
  • Portland, OR, USA
  • 12-14-07

Book One?

Not up to Card's usual standards. The dialog was a bit stilted, the Science was just on the edge of plausibility and the plot seemed a little contrived to allow for a sequel. Still, it was fast paced and interesting.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful