The Immortalists was an unexpected pleasure. Caught without a novel to read on Christmas Day but with a hungry kindle, I bought The Immortalists by Kyle Mills on a whim. The low price was backed up by an opening sample chapter that made the rest of the book irresistible and purchasing it unavoidable. I read it in little more than a day. This was a genetic thriller with a difference – it’s impossible not to care for the young girl around whom the whole novel revolves.
Susie is an eight year old child with progeria, an illness that ages a child unnaturally and prematurely, finally and in short thrift killing that child. Susie’s father, the microbiologist Dr Richard Draman, is in search of a cure and when he hears that a scientist, Annette Chevalier, presumed to have committed suicide, may have made a breakthrough, he decides to continue her work. But when everyone associated with the dead scientist dies themselves in mysterious circumstances, Richard, his wife Carly and Susie have to go on the run.
Caught in the middle of two extremely powerful factions, each desperate to harness the power of the potential cure for themselves, Richard and Carly are left with no option other than to kidnap one of the richest men in the world, an old and infirm man whose money can’t buy what he needs more than anything else, a cure for old age. Meanwhile, Susie ails but her spirit and optimism inspires everyone she comes into contact with, driving them on while precious time slips away.
The Immortalists is an extremely exciting medical thriller which combines the outlandish and the almost fantastical with the very real struggle of two parents to save their young child from an unpleasant and early death. Susie’s personality, and the desperation and love of her parents adds a human element to the thriller that makes it very involving. Nothing around Richard and Carly can be relied upon. The parties after the research have so much power that there is noone they can’t control and no place they can’t reach. Everything is engineered, even long friendships. But when the goal is saving one’s child, there is nothing that won’t be attempted and no risk is too great. As a result, this is a race run at breakneck speed.
Kyle Mills writes well and our investment in the story pays off. There aren’t many thrillers that pull such an emotional punch. The science isn’t too difficult to follow. The disease itself is a real one as are indeed the menaces to mankind that this potential cure could keep at bay – infirmity and death.