Catnip 2: Rise of the Transgenics by J.S. Frankel
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (225 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
”I told you, don’t call me Miss Kitty.” Harry Goldman, young genius, DNA researcher and still a nerd, is back, and this time he’s working for the law. At the end of Catnip, his girlfriend, Anastasia, devolved into a cat. He manages to bring her back to her half-human form, but no sooner does he do so than a new problem surfaces. Two other transgenics emerge, and they are out for blood. Harry and Anastasia have to face off against Lyudmila, another cat-girl, and Piotr, a half-rhino, half-boar monstrosity that lives to kill. And if that isn’t bad enough, the police, lynch mobs, and underground dwellers are after Harry and his girlfriend as well. With time running out, they embark on a treacherous journey to the Ukraine in order to solve the riddle of Anastasia’s DNA, a journey that could also cost both of them their lives.
The problem with being a genius is that you end up with the toughest problems. If only Harry knew how to solve the ones he has.
Last year I mentioned wanting to see more time spent developing Harry as a protagonist in my review of the previous book in this series. His backstory was full of painful experiences that were never really explored as potential explanations for why he behaved the way he did. I was pleased to see how these issues were addressed in the sequel. Harry still has a tendency to be a little pompous, but now I know exactly why he acts this way. That information made a big difference for this reader.
There were many exciting things happening during the course of this plot. When the action sequences grew tense, though, I did notice a tendency for the narrator to slip into telling the audience what was happening instead of showing them. These scenes sometimes involved a lot of different things happening simultaneously. They might have been more effective if the events in them had been given more time to be explained fully. At times I felt as though I’d been given the highlights of those fights instead of all of the important details about them.
One of the reasons why I like J.S. Frankel’s writing style so much is that he has cinematic approach to storytelling. The strong pacing and slowly building tension made me feel like I was watching an action movie. This is something I noticed in the first story in this series, but it was even stronger in this one. The plot development seemed to be just as important to the author as it was to create a visually enticing setting. I really enjoy it when stories pay an equal amount attention to what the characters are doing as to when and where they are doing it, so I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what he comes up with next.
While it can be read on its own or out of order, I do recommend also checking out Catnip if you enjoy this sequel! There were a few references to previous events in this novel that will make more sense for readers who are already familiar with this universe.
Rise of the Transgenics is a good choice for fans of the science fiction and young adult genres alike.