Published September 2013
Identity X by Michelle Muckley
Ben Stone has one aim; discover the cure for genetic disease. He watched his father die and promised himself that it would never happen again, especially to his own son. After his appointment as lead researcher in Bionics Laboratories he begins his desperate research. It takes four years, but he succeeds. He discovers NEMREC, a serum able to reconstruct DNA and cure the diseases that have driven him. It should be the beginning of a new future, but by changing the face of the world, he has unwittingly destroyed his own.
After arriving at his laboratory to find that it has disappeared, he is sucked into a world of conspiracy and betrayal. The Agency wants NEMREC and will do anything to get it, believing it to be the most powerful scientific discovery in decades. But it wasn’t just NEMREC that they wanted. The Agency wanted Ben dead, but somehow he survived. His best friend, his wife, and Ami, the beautiful scientist who he has fallen for at work all offer to help him, but each has a different version of the truth. They all have their own agenda, only one of them wants what he wants, and in a world where you are already dead, how is it that you are supposed to survive?
Muckley has written an intellectually gripping thriller that demanded and kept my attention from the start. What happens when you walk out of your front door and realize that you no longer officially exist in society? When you realize the little plastic government issued ID card that you must use everywhere to do almost anything has suddenly become deactivated? This is the mystery Ben Stone, a prominent medical scientist working in the U.K., must solve after he awakens one morning following the celebration of the success of his team’s NEMREC project.
Ben has dedicated his adult life to finding a cure for genetic diseases, such as the debilitating Huntington’s disease, which gradually destroyed his father’s life. The emotional scars he’s carried from childhood as he watched his father’s quality of life slowly disintegrate have been the driving force behind the past twenty years of his scientific work. Unfortunately, over the course of his life, his passionate need to save others has gradually eroded his personal life, and when we meet Ben, his marriage is barely hanging on by a thread and his family life is less than fulfilling.
When the book begins, Ben’s medical dream has finally come to fruition when the NEMREC project proves to be successful in changing an individual’s genetic code by repairing faulty DNA to cure diseases. Ben is pleased that his revolutionary scientific breakthrough can now save lives, but what he doesn’t realize is that the reverberations of NEMREC’s success will reach beyond the medical community to a covert government organization with nefarious plans for NEMREC’s use.
The story starts off a bit slowly so Muckley can immerse readers into a world where almost every aspect of your life can be tracked by the government via your identity card, and the government has the power to deactivate your card for even the tiniest of infractions that can leave you vulnerable and take away some of the basic rights and freedoms many of us take for granted. The author spends a great amount of time with character development. Ben may be the protagonist of the story but he’s not the one dimensional good guy wearing a white hat. In reality, he’s a flawed hero who must now deal with the consequences of his past actions and mistakes.
The action picks up when Ben finds himself on the run from powerful enemies who have erased his identity as a precursor to ending his actual life. Deception and betrayal cut deeply into the grooves of this cat and mouse chase that ensues with Ben trying to stay alive without knowing who he can now trust. As Ben begins to realize that many of his memories of significant life events have been manipulated by others, his whole perception of reality comes crashing down around him. Now he’s left with the realization that he has been a pawn in a game of warfare and, ironically, his life’s work will be used for death and destruction rather than improving the quality and longevity of life unless he can stay alive long enough to intervene.
By using a third person omniscient point of view to tell the story, Muckley helps readers to get the thoughts, perspectives, and motivations of many other main characters who are involved in the plot. While this certainly adds depth to the storyline, at times the shift from one character’s thoughts to another occurred within scenes and the abrupt transition caught me off guard and interrupted the flow of the story as I found myself re-reading passages to see when the shift occurred.
The ending is quite dramatic and suspenseful but was a bit vague for my preference since it was left open to speculation about what eventually happens to Ben and his family. The last chapter is really an epilogue with an OMG scene that would make a great foundation for a sequel. If Muckley decides to build upon this shocking conclusion, I’ll be ready and waiting to read the follow up to this engaging thriller!
I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest and fair review.
I was born in the town of Warwick in 1981. It is a small historical town in the heart of England, and Ι was the fifth child born into a family of boys. I developed a huge interest in the written world from a young age, and with more than a little help from Roald Dahl found quite the taste for anything gross and gory. Book club at primary school only proved to increase my love of escaping into the world of a book. Whilst six years at secondary school did little to quell the romantic notion of one day sitting in my mountain cabin and smoking a celebratory cigarette as the first novel was born, somewhere within those six years the dream of becoming a writer got put on hold. Still resting quietly in the background were those long and lingering desires to once again rediscover those old aspirations to write.
About six years ago, with the smouldering embers of a childhood dream sparking uncomfortably underfoot there was what can only be called an epiphany. Who is it that actually becomes a writer? It’s the people who write. It’s the people who actually do more than say, ‘I have a dream’. Whilst this may sound simplistic, it was the revelation I needed to sit down and type Chapter One. The first book, The Loss of Deference was no longer just a fantasy and slowly became a workable manuscript. It was then sent out in eagerness before it was properly edited and therefore it was duly returned, and along with it I collected a nice set of standard rejection letters. Six years later, having uprooted from England to settle on the southern Mediterranean shores of Cyprus, the dream to publish the book once deemed nothing more than a pipe dream is now a reality. I am still working as a part time scientist, but I am also writing daily. When I am not sat at the computer typing about the darker side of life, you will find me hiking in the mountains, drinking frappe at the beach, or talking to myself in the kitchen in the style of an American celebrity chef. Just think Ina Garten. (from Goodreads Profile)
Goodreads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6525038.Michelle_Muckley
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