In a futuristic world where individuals are separated as “Naturals” and “Synthates,” Matthew B. J. Delaney’s Black Rain examines the subject of human cruelty. Naturals are human beings just like you and I, while Synthates are artificially synthesized humans created by us. It’s the same old trope used in many dystopian stories, especially when dealing with robots or clones.
Jack Saxton is the protagonist, and is heir to a company called “Genico Inc.” In this world, cures for diseases such as cancer are traded in Wall Street’s Stock Exchange, and Genico rules the market. Although he lived his entire life in privilege, a series of events lead to him getting involved with the Synthates and being sucked into their world.
Despite being created in the image of perfection, Synthates are treated as less than human. They are unwillingly forced into roles such as being domestic slaves and pleasure workers. Some are placed in games where two teams reenact war scenes and literally fight to the death, just to entertain the Naturals. It is the new spectator sport- the games take place in stadiums and even have team names such as the “New York Braves.”
“Kill outside” Sky King said, staring at the cheering crowd, “and they put you in prison. Kill in here, and they make you a hero.”
Sky King is just one of the many Synthates that help Jack realize the hypocrisy and cruelty of Naturals. The Synthates are stripped of all of their rights, despite being conscious beings. In fact, Synthates are given names like Sky King and Night Comfort instead of regular names like John or Karen so that Naturals can further separate Synthates from themselves.
They can easily be discerned from regular humans by the biometric designs that are placed on their shoulder area. The images shift depending on their moods. For example, an image of a sun can indicate that the Synthate is bright and happy.
“The greatest trick the genetic industry ever pulled is convincing the world that Synthates don’t have a soul. If you believe that, you’ll never feel equal to naturals.”
These are words uttered by another Synthate, Night Comfort. Her function in the world can be easily guessed by the nature of her given name.
And so, Jack learns that Synthates aren’t that much different from Naturals. Although they were human creations, they all have their own emotions and feelings. They function the same way as the Naturals. It is a revelation that Jack has to struggle to accept after many years of living as a “privileged Natural.”
However, like many similar stories, the Synthates are secretly planning to revolt to overthrow their cruel Natural counterparts. And unfortunately for Jack, they look to him to help lead the revolution.
Black Rain was an entertaining read, but unfortunately did not feel like an original story. It borrows the same scenarios as many dystopian stories before it. It also contains many plot twists that can be confusing.
If you’re looking for a dystopian novel with original ideas, move on. There’s nothing to see here.
I received the Kindle version of Matthew B. J. Delaney’s Black Rain through Amazon Prime’s Kindle First August 2016 Picks. Prime members are allowed to choose one free Kindle version of a selection of new book releases every month.
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