Title: Genocide of One
Author: Kazuaki Takano
No. of Pages: 512
Origins: Mulholland Books
Release Date: 2 December 2014
Bottom Line: Great premise but too technical and frankly too explicitly violent to be remotely enjoyable
“During a briefing in Washington D.C., the President is informed of a threat to national security: a three-year-old boy named Akili, who is already the smartest being on the planet. Representing the next step in human evolution, Akili can perceive patterns and predict future events better than most supercomputers, and is capable of manipulating grand-scale events like pieces on a chess board. And yet, for all that power, Akili has the emotional maturity of a child—which might make him the most dangerous threat humanity has ever faced.
An American soldier, Jonathan Yeager, leads an international team of elite operatives deep into the heart of the Congolese jungle under Presidential orders to destroy this threat to humanity before Akili’s full potential can be realized. But Yeager has a very sick child, and Akili’s advanced knowledge of all things, medicine included, may be Yeager’s only hope for saving his son’s life. Soon Yeager finds himself caught between following his orders and saving a creature with a hidden agenda, who plans to either save humanity as we know it—or destroy it.”
Thoughts: The one main takeaway of Genocide of One appears to be that modern man is truly awful. The picture Mr. Takano paints of mankind is just plain ugly. In fact, his version of mankind is one step above that of primates. To make things worse, he is not gentle about descriptions of brutality. In fact, there are some of the worst scenes of cruelty one will ever read. They are stomach-churning, nightmare-inducing, explicit, vivid, and not easy to erase from one’s memory. His view is so bleak that it tends to distract a reader from the rest of the story.
As for the rest of the story, it is a mash-up of politico-science thriller and textbook. The science portions are also brutal but in a completely different manner. While the explanations are necessary given the technical details of the plot, they are not simple to understand. Filled with intricate technical jargon and advanced laboratory methods, it is not just dry but exceedingly difficult. In fact, they are the kind of scenes that will turn readers off from continuing the story because they are too technical. Nor are they well-explained. This could easily be the fault of the translation, but the fact of the matter is that these are trying scenes that test the patience of the most erudite reader.
It is not that Genocide of One is a bad story. The action is intense, and the theory it posits is rather ground-breaking. It is a story bound in negativity though, and that proves very taxing. Neither is it a pro-American novel, as it is deeply critical of American politicians and spycraft. Mr. Takano tries to end the novel on a hopeful note, but readers are so thoroughly disenfranchised that they will no longer care. In an attempt to be a cautionary tale about the presumptions of modern man, Genocide of One becomes a slog of a novel that disgusts, distracts, and disturbs rather than educates, entertains, or enlightens.