Book Review: 2184 by Martin Parish

2184 by Martin Parish

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Summary:   In a future where science has accelerated human evolution, humankind diverges into two separate species: a genetically enhanced "super race" and ordinary humans or Mongrels. Decades of discrimination lead to a brutal war that ends with the super race in full control; the Mongrels, defeated and subservient, secretly yearn for revenge. Both sides are aware, however, that a renewed struggle can ultimately have only one outcome: extinction.

Mark Henshaw is a Mongrel living in London. Arrested for an infraction, he's deported to a labor camp, where a dying inmate entrusts him with details of a plot to topple the regime. Now Mark has a choice: keep his life and rejoin the girl he loves – or carry out a plot that could ignite a hellish new war. And with rumors spreading that the government is planning genocide against the Mongrel population, he's running out of time to make up his mind...

This was one of those stories where you follow the protagonist from one thing to another & when you reach the end of your journey, you wonder if you've been caught in an allegory all along. I never much connected to Mark Henshaw & that's rather sad as he narrates this tale. I didn't feel much for him or his plight & ultimately, I just wanted to get on to Marengo (because that was the point of a this whole trip, or so I thought). I honestly didn't understand why in the world in which he lived, he was so sure his girlfriend would be living in the same place after the almost five months he was gone. I mean, he was picked up on a weak charge & spirited away to work a garbage dump. With that kind of randomness in life, there's no real stability & sure thing, people adapt as they go along. Anyway, there's so much meandering on the way back to London (maybe 40%+ of the story) that it felt as though there wasn't much story the author had to tell about that & instead used a lot of window dressing. I wanted to care when Mark sought to reunite with Becky but all I felt was that I'd rather watch Kamal reunited with his cat. And when it goes the way it does, I was cynically gleeful & didn't feel badly for Mark's misfortune. I did see the Maggie set up from a mile away though. Still, I liked that part in the end & found it satisfying.

I was very interested in the Mods but as the story is told in the first person POV, there's virtually nothing deep that we're given. The information we get is all broad strokes & told in tones that I found so colorless, they didn't inspire the claustrophobic doom & utter sympathy, I was sure I was supposed to feel for the Mongrels. The best descriptions of the Mods & how they came to power reminded me so much of Gattaca, that I had to re-read them & i enjoyed that. Kamal was interesting a character to follow, Becky was never wholly real for me & I still wonder why Abel was late getting home in the beginning. As Shelley's main purpose never took hold (& was ostensibly the driver of the story here) & the final rationalization was that her twenty years of research & work to strike a blow at the Mods was nothing more than the folly of an insane person who should have accepted humanity's fate, I find her the character I was most interested in & sympathetic to.

I found the last chapter to be the very best of the whole story & given that, wish the author had been able to convey such a tight story throughout. Overall, the whole was okay but I have to admit that in the end, I'm rather indifferent. It wasn't the greatest or the worst. Just sort of quietly & solidly in the middle. Possibly, that was the lesson.

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