I love robot/cyborg stories, so I was excited to pick this one up when it came to my attention. Cygenic is a science fiction story that takes place in the future and follows a cyborg (though they’re called “Cygenics” in this story) named Dante. Cygenics are sentient machines comprised of 85% human DNA that look and feel just like humans. Though they are sentient, they are still considered by law to be machines and thus are subject to ownership by humans. People who own a Cygenic can do whatever they want with it: use it as a nanny, a caregiver, a housekeeper, or even a sex toy.
Dante is strikingly beautiful and extremely intelligent and was commissioned by a professor to help illustrate some of his educational theories. But when the professor passes, Dante is thrust into the system where he is eventually stolen and sold into the sex trade. There, his everyday existence is hell, as his only purpose is to serve the depraved and vicious sex needs of sadistic clients. There were times that the story felt so intense and anxiety-provoking, I had to stop and breathe for a minute. But then one day, Dante’s circumstances change, and his path crosses with that of a man named Nate.
Nate is a programmer who works for an organization that is dedicated to the rights of Cygenics, and much of their work involves rehabilitating down-and-out cyborgs. Nate has just gotten out of an abusive relationship and, like Dante, is hurt, angry and mistrustful of others. But when these two meet, sparks fly between them. But it’s not going to be easy going for our two protagonists, as they need to face head-on the systemic societal oppression which threatens to rip them apart.
Cygenic is a beautifully written novel that is populated with wonderfully complex and empathetic characters, displaying the perfect balance of heartbreak and hope with a tone and style that captured my heart. This is such a smart story, an eye-opening account of letting go of prejudices and of seeing beyond what we think we know.
The story juxtaposes vicious and depraved sexual cruelty with the pure poetry of a new and profound love, and rarely have I encountered a more mesmerizing, beguiling story. Though this is a hard-hitting emotional journey, the lovely ending is worth the price. The author crafts gorgeous, tension-filled scenes and dialogue that suck you in and flood you with the main characters’ depth and their beautiful hearts.
The emotional profoundness of Dante and Nate draws you deeply into their spirit, to the point that their pain is your pain and their joy is your joy. Then there are some wonderfully delicious naughty parts coupled with lovely descriptions of the glorious male physique, which I thought were exceptionally well done in this story. Once we move past some of the more horrific scenes, we’re given moments of pure erotica; heavenly, tawdry, and scintillating.
I read this book in one sitting because I simply could not put it down – I was absolutely spellbound. It’s rich, complicated, creative, clever, as well as tragic and thought-provoking — a pretty honest and raw commentary on humanity. This is a winning love story that gives a voice to underrepresented characters, which in this case, are Cygenics.
Poirer writes with the kind of humanity that we all should embody, the kind that makes you believe that there is still an abundance of good left in the world at any given moment. This book is more about facing unimaginable heartbreak and coming out stronger on the other side, no matter how long it takes you.
I felt happy and hopeful when I finished — everything you want to feel at the end of a great story. I hope the author writes more books set in this world she’s created here as I really grew attached to Dante and Nate as the story unfolded. This utterly and original book blew my mind!
A huge thank you to Netgalley and Monique Poirer for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this book.