Book Review – Genocide of One by Kazuaki Takano

Title: Genocide of OneBook Review Image
Author: Kazuaki Takano
ISBN: 9780316226226
No. of Pages: 512
Genre: Thriller
Origins: Mulholland Books
Release Date: 2 December 2014
Bottom Line: Great premise but too technical and frankly too explicitly violent to be remotely enjoyable

Genocide of One by Kazuaki TakanoSynopsis:

“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.

5 Responses to Book Review – Genocide of One by Kazuaki Takano
  1. Mysterious Bibliophile
    December 11, 2014 | 9:15 AM

    This is an interesting premise — it kind of has an X-Men vibe. It sounds like something I might like to read sometime. But after re-reading Lord of the Flies with my high school-aged son this fall, I may want to wait a while before immersing myself in a book about how awful humans are. 🙂

    • Michelle
      December 11, 2014 | 8:06 PM

      It is an interesting premise, and I can’t say that I disagree with a lot of what he had to say. The scientific scenes were a little much, going into way too much detail about pharmaceutical development. I can’t see those scenes, of which there are many, appealing to a wide audience. I definitely enjoyed rereading Lord of the Flies much more than I did this one. I hope you enjoy it more than I did!

  2. An Alternative Perspective
    December 29, 2014 | 3:08 AM

    In all honesty, I believe that this is a fantastically written novel. While I recognize that not all audience members will be thrilled to read through the technical explanations of pharmacology/organic synthesis/genetics, I believe that it was a necessary element of the story. Kento Koga’s story is conveyed best because of the overly technical diction. His thought processes have been honed by his scientific practice and discipline; using this logical & technical means of thinking is how he was capable of evaluating the different scenarios he encounters. Personally, I believe it helps the reader better understand how the mind of a master’s pharmacology student works, thus allowing them to comprehend why Kento acted as he did. I will concede that this particular aspect of Takano’s writing may be a turn off. Coming from a chemistry background myself, I found it exceptionally enjoyable and enticing. But going so far as to say it would “test the patience of the most erudite reader” seems to be a little overly dramatic and slightly arrogant. While I am not overly versed in the algorithms, diseases, protein configurations, etc. that are mentioned, I never found myself struggling to sift through the information. Furthermore, it never distracted me from the plot’s development. If individuals find it truly trying then I would recommend briefly typing certain terminology into Google which would provide sufficient explanations. People have a strange aversion to any form of technical language. However, there should be no excuse as to why these words aren’t assimilated into the general population’s vocabulary. Personally, I think this is an excellent opportunity for people to expand their repertoire and learn something new!

    I also recognize that certain people wouldn’t enjoy some of the most gruesome scenes or the bleak portrayal of modern society. However, that shouldn’t be an issue – it is a science-fiction thriller. I hardly fail to see how those elements wouldn’t be expected in a story such as this one. Takano’s simply illustrates how distorted modern society can be (potentially is), which shouldn’t be listed as a detracting factor for this story – it makes it all the more engrossing and captivating.

    I just wanted to include these comments for anyone who may be interested by this book and becomes disenchanted after reading this rather negative review.

    • Michelle
      December 29, 2014 | 11:56 AM

      Thank you very much for your thoughts.

  3. An Alternative Perspective
    December 29, 2014 | 3:11 AM

    Furthermore, I just wanted to include information from Goodreads’ website:

    37 reviews
    Average rating: 4.2

    Definitely seems to indicate that the book has an overwhelmingly positive response from readers.

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