From Publishers Weekly
This superior debut initially resembles a straightforward YA adventure but abruptly veers into much stranger territory. Various factions struggle for control of the Ring, a colossal space station built around Earth by engineers who turned most of humankind into a group mind called the Community, which promptly figured out how to access other realities and vanished from this one. The few remaining humans genetically engineer their children to form pods of individuals so closely bonded that they function as one person. After stumbling on secret research during a training exercise, the teenage pod called Apollo Papadopulos soon find themselves on the run from shadowy forces who want to seduce or kill them. The setting extends from Earth orbit to the Amazon jungle, and the action ranges from a tense space rescue to an almost idyllic trek through the Rockies with a family of genetically altered bears. Though some loose plot ends dangle a bit, the ingenious character development and startling images and ideas are deeply satisfying. (Feb.)
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Earth is surrounded by an artificial ring, former home of the human-cybernetic Community, which vanished in the Singularity, years after which multiple person Apollo Popadopulos (a pod of five individuals) is one of several competitively training to captain the starship Consensus to search for the vanished preponderance of humanity. Training is arduous, and returning to Mother Redd’s farm to await assignment proves harder. Apollo meets Malcolm Leto, recently removed from stasis, who was once part of the Community. As Apollo falls victim to more and more accidents, and Leto schemes to bring back the Community, harsh truths come to light about Apollo’s origins and the bleak reality of the Community’s disappearance. Melko’s world is a fascinating one, in which single humans are increasingly rare, pods like Apollo are the norm, and the Singularity did not necessarily improve the human condition. This strong first novel boasts engaging characters and tight, fast-paced action sustained through some acrobatic plot stunts. --Regina Schroeder
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