Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: September 27th, 2016
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Tyche Books
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through these links.
Blurb from goodreads:
Genetically enhanced workers are the future of companies competing in the global marketplace. People need to be more intelligent, more capable . . . more.
Genetic perfection has a price: a brutal Darwinian contest of strength and cunning to determine which bloodlines will continue, and dominate.
When Sarah Wheeler’s Spawning Contest is rigged, her breeding and training will be put to the ultimate test—by an adversary who knows her every flaw and weakness, by a father whose dynastic ambitions know no bounds, and by a world that is ruthlessly selecting against human agency itself.
I don't read a lot of science fiction but the blurb of this book appealed so I requested it and I'm glad. "Spawning Ground" was compelling, intriguing, and provocative. Cockle pulls together various social, political, scientific, and financial trends and theories and weaves an engrossing, sometimes frightening story.
The world building was particularly interesting but it did leave me with some questions. I'd have liked to see or learn more about the shift in thinking and how the Executive Program came about. One weakness was the failure to address human development. Cognitive development especially was not addressed and much of what Cockle postulates and has his characters doing simply isn't possible. Presumably, technology took care of it or maybe the genetic coding but it was unclear and did weaken, for me anyway, the scientific underpinnings of the story. That, however, is my only big quibble and others may have no trouble suspending belief and buying into the insanely accelerated human development. Cockle's concept of True Love and the One was, quite honestly, frightening, and yet in some ways, a logical extension of our current perspective, at least in North America.
The characters are fleshed out; complex, multi-faceted, and morally gray. While I liked Sarah, our female protagonist, she had some unlikable traits and by the end of the story I wasn't sure I liked her at all but I was invested. I was rooting for her, most of the way. Cockle's writing drew me in until I was hooked. None of the characters were all bad or all good but ran the gamut. Warren was the closest to all good but even he was flawed. Those traits that made him good and likable were considered by many to make him and flawed, not so different from today's society.
The story has some dark elements, lots of on page violence, and some rough consensual sex. The story as a whole is on the dark side, and if you want a happy ending, keep looking. Cockle's vision of the future is not a happy one.
"Spawning Ground" is an all too plausible, barring the human development glitches, look at our possible future. Threads of it already exist in our society. It was fascinating reading and the story itself was engaging, twisty, and thought provoking. If you have any interest in genetic engineering, politics, or social trends, pick up this story. If you want a story that's full of action, has complex and interesting characters, that will engage you emotionally but also make you think, then pick up "Spawning Ground". You won't regret it.