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Friday, August 22, 2008

Review: Soul, by Tobsha Learner

Soul was one of Tor's giveaways. The novel revolves around Julia Huntington, a geneticist/researcher who comes home from trying circumstances in Afghanistan to find that her husband has run away with her best friend. Since her research is into genetics, she tries to figure out whether or not there's a gene for violence --- i.e., whether there are folks who can kill without regrets or post-traumatic stress disorders.

The parallel narrative of the story is about Lavinia Huntington, one of Julia's ancestors who was accused and convicted of the murder of her husband. We learn of her marriage, her son, and the circumstances which lead up to her husband's death.

The theme here is that of biology is destiny. We wonder whether or not Julia will end up murdering her ex-husband in a fit of anger, and the author deliberately tries to draw parallels between the two genetically linked women. The message seems to be that we shouldn't do such research (which is hogwash), and that we do have free will. Any serious study of genetics however, will reveal that genes definitely don't for instance, lead you to murder someone, so I think either the author didn't understand his research, or just wanted to write a morality play, which unfortunately is awfully heavy-handed and obvious.

Not recommended.

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