A good book should freak you out. It should make you ask yourself questions like, “What would I do?” or, “Could that happen?” Author J.R. McLeay’s novel, The Cicada Prophecy, will make you ask yourself those questions. In fact, at the end of the first chapter I asked myself a very important one: “What the f—k?”
The book takes place in the not-so-distant future where science has discovered a way to stop that horrible thing we call aging and achieve immortality. The title of the book comes from Magicicada Cicadas, which are a special phenotype of cicadas that have managed to live extra long lives because of their ability to control their hormones and keep themselves in a prolonged juvenile state of maturity. So how does McLeay apply this to his book? Well, in this future, children undergo surgeries to remove their pituitary gland before sexual maturity so they are able to live indefinitely. That’s right, it’s a bunch of preteens running around, but not really. I mean, yes, everyone looks about eleven years old but they continue in life as they would normally. It’s hard to picture the main character, Dr. Richard Ross, a professor at NYU in bio-ethics as well as Surgeon General of the UN as a prepubescent boy, but it makes the journey exciting.
Since the surgery stops sexual maturity from happening, the population relies on Queens. Yes, a few grown women who pump out babies as necessary. This angers a religious group, The Children of Eden, and that’s where conflict starts. Is it okay to live this way? If we find a way to become immortal, do we do it or admit it’s against nature’s intention?
McLeay writes a ridiculously fun ride and uses hard science to paint a picture of a world for the eternally young. McLeay, himself, is a researcher of biogerontology from the University of Toronto with an emphasis on the cause of aging at the molecular level. So, yeah, he knows what he’s talking about and you can feel it on every page.
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