My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is a very readable and fun science fiction romance. Its fast pace and plot twists made it feel like a screenplay for a summer sci-fi action thriller. There were a couple of times the plot genuinely surprised me and made me sit up in my chair and take notice. That rarely happens to me any more as a reader, even with science fiction.
Having worked in the biotech industry, I didn’t find the life-extension science here to be particularly believable, even in the near future, but the author did enough research and told a good enough story that I was willing to (mostly) suspend disbelief in an immortality serum and go along for the ride. I had a harder time believing that the underlying conspiracy could have gone on for as long as it did without being found out and shut down much sooner. There are already a number of biotech companies and even more academic labs working on the problem of life extension, so Plant Harmonics would not have been alone in that space. And even in our own time, if a tech company’s technology is thought to be fraudulent or even based on shaky data, the market shows signs of being self-correcting. For example, look at the rise and precipitous fall of Theranos.
The characters were appealing, but were pretty standard SF heroes and villains. Adam, the protagonist, was recognizable as a Silicon Valley overachiever who had lost the art of relationships. Evelyn was realistic but we didn’t learn much more about her than that she was pretty, spunky, and loyal to family. Watching these two characters get together romantically as they solve a massive technological conspiracy was enjoyable but not particularly memorable. The villains had some interesting, even poignant motivations for doing what they did, but I think they needed to be much more devious.
I would read other books by this author as I think she writes intelligently and has ideas about corporate invasion of privacy that deserve to be fleshed out further. With this novel she seems to be on the path of finding her own voice and exploring the themes that she finds most important.