Review: Mutation

Mutation
Mutation by Roland Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

I hadn’t read the first three books in the Marty and Grace series in a long time, so I just sort of assumed that all of the random characters popping in and out of the story were characters I’d once known and then forgotten.

Turns out, there are two other whole series of books set in the same world that are also being tied off in this book. Who knew? No wonder I felt kind of muddled. It seemed like Smith was casting his net a little too wide when it came to characters, but I guess if you’re bringing together a couple of different series you’re bound to be stuck juggling a ton of different characters. That’s something to keep in mind, though, as you read this review: I’m reviewing the book purely as the last book in the Marty and Grace series, without any idea of the context with regards to the other series.

Basically . . . there are a million characters I can’t keep track of. And the narration keeps jumping between them, so I kept forgetting who was where and what they were doing (not to mention which of the other myriad of characters they’d already met). The main storyline with Blackwood was gripping – chilling – and the entire reveal of where the characters had been disappearing to was cool.

The big big reveal, though, the one that comes at the end of the book? That one was . . . weird. Blackwood whole background seemed really random, since I don’t remember any foreshadowing of it in the other books. As for a certain new character who pops up late in the book, I really love the entire idea behind her existence but it just doesn’t make any scientific sense to me. I think there’s a certain word that they use to describe her (if you’ve already read the book: the word starts with a “c” and basically defines her relationship to Grace) that’s used a little too liberally. I also wish the book hadn’t ended so quickly after she was introduced, because it would have been really interesting to see her relationship with the other characters (especially Marty, Grace, and Wolfe) explored more fully.

Speaking of relationships that aren’t taken to their full potential, I feel like everywhere Grace turns there are fascinating alleyways that could be explored but aren’t. Do she and Marty really just shake off the whole “hey, we’re actually cousins and not twins!” reveal so easily that they never so much as think about it? Does she seriously adjust her entire definition of who her parents are that she can refer to “my mom” and think about “her father” and use those titles to refer to people she barely even knew existed for the vast majority of her life, never blinking an eyelash about her relationship to the couple actually did all of the diaper changing, hand holding, bike training and, well, all of the other things that parents do? I just find it hard to believe that her entire definition of family can shift so quickly. Plus, she literally isn’t described as sharing a single word with Marty’s parents about the fact that they lied to her for her entire life. The book says she’s pulled into a big hug and forgives them everything, but that doesn’t really change the fact that they have no idea she knows the truth. I would have liked some dialogue there.

But then again, the book already had too much going on in it. I would have happily chopped some of the other storylines to make way for mine, though I can see how fans of the others series’ characters might have a problem with that. Maybe it’s just the genre that I’m not used to, or maybe this approach of throwing a bunch of series together into one jumbled story doesn’t quite work. I don’t know, but I kind of wish that the Marty and Grace series had gone out with a bigger bang. The first books were amazing! Regardless, though, if you’ve made it this far in the series then of course you’re going to read its finale. Let me know what you think – and if you’ve read all of the other series, tell me how well you think Mutation blends them together!

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