Rating: 4 out of 5
F. Paul Wilson’s The God Gene: A Novel (The ICE Sequence Book 2) picks up a little after the close of Panacea. Rick Hayden’s adoptive brother Keith (a zoologist) has gone missing. He liquidated all of his assets and transferred them overseas first, so the cops figure he just left voluntarily and aren’t particularly looking for him. Meanwhile, a South African man named Marten Jeukens is looking for a mysterious island that is the source of a new type of… well, not actually a monkey. These creatures, whom he dubs dapis, are extraordinarily smart and capable of learning very quickly. There’s also something strange hidden away in their genetic code. Marten is up to something–in addition to hiring a boat to look for that island, he’s purchasing strange cannisters of liquid–among other things.
I really have a beef with Laura in this volume (yes, more so than in the last volume–that’s why I noted that it was her depiction across the books that was annoying). She becomes really sanctimonious and naive about a handful of things. For one, Rick has pretty much no relationship at all with his adoptive mother. Laura patronizingly compares her to a Nazi in order to make the point that she can’t be that bad, and is entirely condescending about his feelings without knowing the first thing about their relationship. No one knows how bad a person’s relationship with their family is or is not, and no one should require someone to justify their familial feelings. Especially since it isn’t like she’s his fiancee or something, so she really has no right to butt in. The naivete comes in when she flips out over having to pass bribes once they start traveling to certain countries, and almost screws them over in a couple of places because of it.
One of the new characters in this volume is Hari, an Indian woman who is a forensic accountant. She’s confident, loud-mouthed in an entirely fun way, and incredibly good at what she does. For someone with a very limited amount of screen time, she’s disproportionately colorful and fun.
Laura and Rick’s seemingly burgeoning relationship has, of course, fallen apart, so we can have more of that will-they/won’t-they, and so Rick can flagellate himself with thoughts of how she’s too good for him. It’s a little annoying, but not too bad.
There’s lots of adventure to be had. An island full of dapis, betrayal, death, helicopters crashing, boats disabled, explosives, and bizarre mental disorders. The depiction of Marten is… I can’t say a lot without giving things away, but it’s weird, and it kind of works in how it’s done. It’s also intriguing to see how this fits into Rick’s ICE theories. It’s odd that he and Laura seem to be becoming the world’s secret-keepers.
Content note for animal harm and sexual content.