Review: This Mortal Coil-Emily Suvada

Book 1

Young adult, science fiction, dystopia



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In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hacking skills to decode her late father’s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague.

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?


This story follows Caterina, the daughter of the worlds famous geneticist. When Cole shows up, revealing the death of her dad, she realizes that he holds the cure for the Hydra virus inside of him. She is the only one with the knowledge to figure out the cure and save whats left of humanity. But her journey isn't an easy one, as a secret organization--Cartaxus--is holding all technology and wants the cure just as bad. With secrets that will turn her life upside down, new friendships, and quick a plot twist, Caterina's life just got way more complicated. 

When I first went into this book, I wasn't sure what to expect. It didn't sound like something I usually read, and seemed a bit to science fiction for my current liking, but something drew me to it. Maybe the cover or the use of DNA and how different that sounded. I started out unsure but quickly became enthralled in this story, in the characters and the twists!

My Thoughts:


The idea that DNA has such a twist on the lives of people really caught me. I think it's cool and different how they can change their DNA with the use of technology. I do wish this was described a tad better. Going in, I thought this meant they could physically change themselves but maybe that's just on me. I would have liked some of these technological aspects to have been described a little better for people who aren't into it, hacking and coding. 

I think the whole dystopia atmosphere added to the story itself. I would have liked some more back story information put in. Obviously a flu type virus killed a lot of people, but some more info on the beginning of that would have been nice. 

There were a few parts in the plot that weren't explained well or handled good in my opinion. I felt lost at a few parts and often confused. I don't know coding, hacking and technology that well so sometimes I felt lost and needed a better explanation. To get a better understanding of the Hydra virus and why it affects them in such a way would have been great, too. 

Overall for the plot, it was good. It had it's high points and low points. I think towards the middle is where it really picked up for me, as it felt less like a cliche dystopian/science fiction. The twists toward the end hit one after another and I actually went "WHAT" at one point because I was caught completely off guard. 

The group Cartaxus was weird for me. It wasn't given a great development in the plot I think. I wanted to know more about them, if they're really bad or are good (although thanks to books, everyone is gray). I just wanted to know more about them and why they did what they did. It was pretty lackluster to me and a weak plot point.


Cat is a genius hacker which is awesome. I think that's something seldom seen in YA fiction (or at least in the books I read!). She's got this smart cookie, kickass feel to her without being completely impenetrable like other heroines in dystopia type worlds. Cat is realistic in the sense that she grows as the story continues, coming into herself and learning things. I felt for her when things started coming to light and I think she handled it pretty well. 

Cole is sent to Cat with the intent on protecting her and helping get the vaccine for the Hydra virus. He was sent by her dad, Dr. Lachlan Agatta. I wasn't too sure how to feel about this character in the start. I thought he was just there to help until the real love interest, Dax, showed up again. Cole kind of came off as stand-offish and I couldn't tell if he was friend or foe, especially bringing the news of her dads death. As the story went on, I found myself liking him more but I didn't have that connection I usually do with the heroes of the story. I would have liked a bit more emotion played into his parts and dialogue. 

Dax is barely in this book and I didn't like him in the beginning or near the end. 

Lachlan, Cat's dad, is something of an enigma I think. He first comes off as a regular father, just a highly sought after geneticist. The more we get to know him through Cat's inner thoughts, memories, and what's revealed shows a pretty messed up guy, even with the intention of saving humanity. He's a very gray character, and in my opinion a nice villain to the story. I can see somewhat of why he did what he did but I'd love more of an explanation.

So this was a pretty good read. it was a little slow in the beginning but keep with it because it's a pretty great story and I loved the last half of the book the most. The characters I enjoyed but I'd love some more to come in and see how they fit into her world. The plot could have been better executed but I felt like it held its own for what the story is about. I definitely recommend this to people who love sci/fi and dystopian type stories. It's not heavy on romance--there's barely any at all which I found nice for once. It came about slowly and wasn't rushed or instant.