Thursday, 21 August 2014

Book Review: Integrate by Adele Jones

Reviewed by Anne Hamilton


Publisher’s Blurb:
Trust the science - unless your life depends on it.

Blaine Colton had been handed a genetic death sentence until revolutionary gene therapy changed his life. Living a relatively normal existence, he is called to an unscheduled post-treatment appointment just weeks before his eighteenth birthday.

Informed that his lifesaving procedure was never approved, he is held against his will for his status as an apparent illegal GMO. Subjected to constant testing, refused contact with his parents and deprived of life sustaining medication, Blaine begins to suspect that something is wrong. Wanting answers, he escapes the Institute and ambitious Chief Scientist, Dr Melissa Hartfield.

Now a fugitive with a failing body, Blaine must find Professor Ramer, the developer of his therapy. But the Professor has vanished and time is running out. Fast.


I loved this story from the first paragraph. I originally saw it as an entry in the CALEB Unpublished Manuscript competition in 2013. It stood out even in a very strong competitive field. My only misgiving was that it was set in Brisbane, my hometown, and I could picture Blaine’s every move as he tried to evade his captors. I wondered how much my enjoyment was affected by my ability to visualise the actual locations in brilliant bougainvillea Technicolor. Off it went to judges overseas and interstate who enjoyed it just as much as I did.

This is a fast-paced YA techno-thriller. Blaine’s miracle cure has already occurred before the book opens. For years, he was a drooling, disabled human vegetable whose adoptive parents have sacrificed their lives in the hope he could be cured. Their faith has been rewarded and now Blaine is a regular teenager who can walk and talk and look the girl he’s crazy about in the eye instead of the kneecap.

But his right-side-up life is about to hit a huge bump in the road. It tumbles into upside-down freefall: no one has counted on the ruthless ambition of several medical researchers.

Blaine’s regular check-up has turned into a nightmare when he is held against his will as an illegal GMO: genetically-modified organism. Chief scientist Melissa Hartfield is desperate to discover how her erstwhile mentor, Professor Ramer, brought about this radical cure. Ramer has left with no forwarding address and she’ll stop at nothing to find out the secret of his work.

She’s barred Blaine from his parents and them from him. And she’s made him think he’s carrying a potentially deadly contagion and them think he’s become violent and subject to murderous rage.

Can Blaine escape? He’s got one secret: a tiny supply of pills called Ramer’s Cure and, if he can eke them out while making Hartfield believe he is debilitated and stupid, he might stand a chance of getting out of the high security cage where he’s incarcerated.

A wonderful story about hope, love, miracles and God’s quiet oversight of every sparrow’s fall. It takes place in Brisbane and some other location. I could tell you where, as I could also tell you more about the story. But I won’t. As Professor Ramer says, if I did—then I’d have to kill you.

Trade Paperback
Release: 1st September 2014
ISBN: 9781925139099
Price: $16.99

Ebook
Release: 1st September 2014
Kindle ISBN: 9781925139105
ePub ISBN: 9781925139112

Anne Hamilton is an editor and author. In fact she did an initial edit on Integrate as part of the prize for the CALEB Unpublished Manuscript competition before it was turned over to the publisher. Because she’s also an author, she’s an intrusive editor and throws creative nuggets at writers for their consideration. It’s no good, in her view, telling authors their manuscripts don’t work at particular points without giving them ideas of how to fix them.

22 comments:

  1. Great review Annie. I really loved this book too and agree with everything you've said. With so many darker YA novels on the market, it was great to see one that was more hopeful. I liked the fast-moving action and suspense, with a touch of romance (a few Aww moment). But I especially liked the value of life theme that permeated the novel, without being preachy at all. It raises interesting ethical questions. If Blaine hadn't been cured, or if the treatment was no longer available and he reverted back to his previous state, would he still be of value? Well worth the read.

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    1. Yes, Nola - I liked the lack of preachiness about it. I felt it was at a 'real' level for the target age group. Thinking a bit about God and wondering... but still unsure.

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  2. Sounds great. Cant wait to read this one, thanks for the review Annie. Xx

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    1. I'm sure you'll enjoy it, Michelle. Though it's very different to yours.

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  3. A real tease of a review! Thanks Anne.

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    1. Hi Rhonda - I'm conscious of some complaints I've received lately that reviewers tend to tell too much of the story. While the complaints weren't directed at me personally - but some reviewers I respect - still I've continued to see lots of discussion about it. So I have pulled back on the story-reveal and tried to think of ways to whet the readers' appetites!

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  4. Hi Annie,
    I've just finished reading this book. I agree that it's exciting with a 'race against the clock' quality, and Blaine's gene therapy is fascinating. I've given it to my husband to read, and then we'll probably pass it along to our boys and girl. I'm just familiar enough with Brisbane, from visits, to recognise many of the city landmarks in the story, which I thought was fun.

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    1. Hi Paula - I'd be very interested to see what your boys and girl think. They are closer to the target age group and it's always fascinating to see whether what we adults think is great works for the intended audience.

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    2. Hi Paula, I'd love to hear their feedback, especially being in the YA demographic. 'Great' is certainly a perception that can vary across the ages - that being the target audience in this instance. :)

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    3. Will let you know. So far they think the blurb sounds intriguing :)

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  5. Shades of David drooling to trick his enemies. Is this a speculative genre, Annie, or a thriller with a bit of Sci-Fi? I'm thinking about my nephew.

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    1. It's a contemporary thriller, Rita. Science fiction is minimal.

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  6. Thanks for the review Annie. It sounds like a great book so maybe I need to bump it up on my to-read list.

    I agree about not revealing too much of the story in a book review (unless clearly warned that it contains spoilers) as knowing too much of the plot ahead of time can ruin the enjoyment of reading.

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  7. What a positive review, Annie. Thank you! Had to smile when you referenced the familiarity of the Brisbane setting. I dragged my family along to walk Blaine's steps (multiple times) in the name of 'living the experience'. They are QUITE familiar! (Perhaps a little too much so.) But I'm relieved you didn't name that other location. We can't have a 'need to kill' anyone just yet - I'll save that for the next book. :)

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  8. I really enjoyed 'Integrate' too. Part of its charm is being familiar with the setting - I get quite excited when that happens! Great storyline and characters - what's not to like? Looking forward to reading your historical when it comes out next month, Adele.

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    1. Agreed - what's not to like?

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    2. Thanks, Andrea (and Annie :) ). I'll certainly let you know when the historical fiction is available.

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  9. Thanks for the great review, Annie. You said YA as target audience, but what age are we talking about here as YA to some is later teens and others 12+. Recently I had someone call a book YA and suitable for 8 plus.

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    1. Ouch, Dale! YA tends to slip in Australia down to the Older Primary readers bracket, but that's quite ridiculous! (I know because I kept getting pulled up by some librarians in the US on 10-12 yo age group that they classed as YA.) I would say Integrate can be read by better readers of 12 and up, though it's more targeted to 15+

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    2. Eight plus as YA? Wow! I pitch what I consider YA writing at a target audience of 15-25+. (I say 25+ because I quite enjoy reading some of the YA offerings out there - and have heard others who are ... er ... 'plus' say the same. ;-) )

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  10. Annie, excellent review! This isn't a genre I'd normally read, but the story premise is intriguing. Thanks for sharing your insightful thoughts.

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