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The Immortalists

Kyle Mills
In Print
Thomas & Mercer (2011)

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This entry created 23 April 2012. Last revised on 5 September 2016.

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The Immortalists
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333 pages.

I don't normally read medical thrillers, but I picked this up on sale in my first wave of enthusiasm after acquiring a hand-me-down Kindle reader.

The novel starts out with a clever, twisted scene in which a medical researcher is coerced into committing suicide in order to save the lives of her husband and child.

Then we meet Richard Draman, formerly a juvenile delinquent but now a brilliant microbiologist, who leads an underfunded research effort to cure progeria (the disease of accelerated aging in children). It's personal with him - his daughter Susie has progeria, and his quest is to save her life with a medical breakthrough - if he can only find sufficient financial backing.

The plot begins when Draman is contacted by the widower of another researcher he knows, one who committed suicide recently. Only the husband thinks it wasn't suicide - he thinks she was killed over a research project she was working on "on the side." And he turns over a thumb drive containing her research files...

From there, the novel turns into a thriller as Draman becomes increasingly convinced someone - some very powerful group - wants him silenced, wants him dead, or wants his daughter dead. But will even his wife believe his 'far-fetched' fears?

This novel didn't impress me much at first. In fact, I was almost bored. There was plenty of action but not much suspense, and the main characters failed to "come to life" for me. The turning point was at the halfway mark, where the novel becomes less of a 'fugitives on the run' story and more of a 'sinister forces collide' adventure. From that point on, I had fun reading it, the plot tugged at the heartstrings more (I mean, come on, there's a sick little girl at stake!), and the action continued non-stop. I also enjoyed some of the minor characters.

The novel's ending - which is almost three endings, really - wrapped the story up nicely.

There's a fair amount of violence in the book, so this is probably not for younger readers. I don't remember any sexual content or bad language.

My recommendation for the author is to work on making his characters more interesting and believable. Draman was never convincing as a 'bad kid' gone straight, his wife was a stock heroine, and little Susie was the stereotypical brave child facing a terrible disease.

From a wargaming viewpoint: There are no battles in this book, but there easily could have been - this novel could easily inspire a modern or near-future noir campaign involving corporate-type security forces.

Bottom line: A fun read once you get past the first part.

Reviewed by unknown member.