Welcome to your next and final stop on the Blog Tour for THE SENTIENT by Nadia Afifi! Highlights are below, and do not forget to tip your driver!
Amira Valdez is a brilliant neuroscientist trying to put her past on a religious compound behind her. But when she’s assigned to a controversial cloning project, her dreams of working in space are placed in jeopardy. Using her talents as a reader of memories, Amira uncovers a conspiracy to stop the creation of the first human clone – at all costs.
As she unravels the mystery, Amira navigates a dangerous world populated by anti-cloning militants, scientists with hidden agendas, and a mysterious New Age movement. In the process, Amira uncovers an even darker secret, one that forces her to confront her own past.
2020 is working out to be the quite a year for futuristic science fiction books with a focus on advancing technology, as I have already read quite a few. With The Sentient, the reader gets an interesting take on cloning, and I have not quite seen it done this way. Nadia Afifi spins an interesting tale of science and technology while at the time wondering about the morality of it all.
That being said, The Sentient is a relatively fresh take, as I had not read a good clone story in a while. Lately in sci-fi there has been a lot of space opera-type books and books about the future of AI; neither of which I mind, but I was happy to read a book about a future that involves clones. And the best part? It is not like this book starts and the world is already populated with clones. It is more of a genesis story, which I really enjoy reading.
Don’t get it twisted, though, this was very much a character-driven novel, as the decisions and interactions of the characters are the driving force behind the narrative. Amira is the main protagonist, and her character was quite unique. Many of the people in this book possess special powers, and hers is the ability to read memories by placing her targets in a dreamlike-state. One can see the obvious uses for this, but in this instance her task is to find out everything she can about the woman they have in the facility who is pregnant with a clone. If the woman makes it full term and gives birth, it will be the first live clone in the history world. At first Amira thinks it would be great to be a part of history, but as the story goes along she begins to question the motives of others involved in the cloning project. Many of the seem very shady, and Amira is not sure who she can trust.
That brings me to the other protagonist (and sometimes antagonist?) character, Hadrian. He brings the tension to the table, as Amira is not sure she can trust him. Hadrian is a detective who runs his own safe place for kids fleeing from their shitty lives in the Compounds (as far as I understand, the Compounds are different communities spread out in rural areas where the people are often poor and there is a lot of violence). He is investigating the cloning project and seeks information from Amira. They begin a sort of quid-pro-quo working relationship, but Amira is unsure of his motives. In my opinion, the exchanges between Amira and Hadrian oftentimes pulled the story along.
The one thing I wish this book had done more of was explaining the science better. It is really unclear to me why the cloned embryo had to gestate inside a womb; whereas, very often in clone stories they just grow in a lab (sometimes you see them in those vertical tanks). I do not necessarily mind this, as I said, I am down for some differing takes. I just wish the science and decision-making behind it would have been explored in detail. Obviously, I have my own thoughts and theories behind this decision, but in a book like this I do not think such a thing should be left ambiguous.
I found the pacing to be quite slow at first, as the story builds up to the main storyline; but, once it hits the pace picks up rather quickly. There were times where I had wished it would get going a little faster, but it was definitely worth the wait as the last 40% or so of the book definitely takes the reader for a ride.
Overall, I enjoyed reading The Sentient. I like the take on cloning, as it was a unique road to go down. Afifi’s writing style is definitely appealing, as well, with the way the author wrote the characters leading the way in this one. This book gets my recommendation for fans of sci-fi, and particularly those who enjoy stories about cloning.
About the Author
Nadia Afifi is a science fiction author who lives in Denver,
Colorado. Although born in the United States, she grew
up in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain before studying
journalism and business in college. When she isn’t
writing, she loves to hike, run and plan her next overseas