Review: Gemsigns / Author: Stephanie Saulter / Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books / Release Date: Out Now
Gemsigns is set in the future over 100 years after the planet has recovered from a deadly Syndrome that killed billions. A cure was found through the use of genetically engineered human beings known as Gems. But now the Syndrome has been cured, the question is: what to do with the Gems? A declaration by the Gemtech corporations that created them has freed them from servitude, but many 'normal' people still see them as slaves.
The story develops over the week of a world-changing conference which could potentially dictate the future of all Gems. Dr Eli Walker has been commissioned to write a report on whether the Gems deserve or are even capable of equality with 'norms', but he is being pulled in all directions. The Gemtechs want their property back and are leaning on Eli to suggest they should be returned into their control, but the Gems are obviously unwilling to give up their freedom so easily. The godgangs are determined to rid the world of all Gems and their 'unholy' nature, and begin attacking and killing as many as they can lay their hands on. Will Eli do the right thing and propose a world based on equality, or will the pressure become too much and force him to condemn the Gems back into slavery?
Gemsigns is named after the symbol each Gem has representing their special ability and the Gemtech they originated from. They have a range of physical and mental abilities that individual Gemtechs engineered into their genomes in the bid for certain perfected abilities. The book brings up many ethical issues surrounding, race, religion, equality and human nature, in a narrative with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader entertained. It is reminiscent of the civil rights movement and the Suffragettes, but written as though the offensive pressure groups have learnt their lesson and changed tack to get what they want; the Gemtechs are very clever, they release footage that condemns themselves while manipulating public opinion to side with them. Which leads the reader to be clueless as to how the story will end, particularly as Gemsigns is the first book of the Revolution series.
A failure in the writing is that things become unclear at points. The book is written like a jigsaw for the reader to put together and while it is rewarding to figure things out, particularly those that are not heavily hinted at, there were several occasions which it is necessary to reread pages in order to fully understand what is going on. Nevertheless, Gemsigns is a fascinating and compelling read, exploring the boundaries of human behaviour, religious influences, and the morality of the everyday person. It comes highly recommended and we can only hope that the rest of the series to come is just as gripping.