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Blake Crouch. Ballantine, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-15753-4

In this nail-biting near-future science thriller from bestseller Crouch (Recursion), the world is still recovering from the Great Starvation, which killed hundreds of millions of people, the unintended consequence of the hubris of Miriam Ramsay, the discoverer of a “revolutionary, biological DNA modifier system.” Seeking to eliminate a leaf blight decimating a rice strain in China, Ramsay inserted a virus into locusts intended to infect the rice to create increased resistance to the disease. Unexpectedly, the modified insects ended up targeting other crops, depleting the world’s food supply. That catastrophe led to draconian measures, including harsh restrictions on biological research. Now, Ramsay’s son, Logan, who assisted her before the Great Starvation, has found a new purpose working for America’s Gene Protection Agency, tracking genetic scientists deemed risks. During a raid on an illegal lab, Logan becomes infected by something that hacks his genome, transforming him in frightening ways that seem to match his mother’s vision of an upgraded version of homo sapiens, whose enhanced intelligence supposedly will preserve the species. Crouch fully develops his alarming concept and its implications along with delivering masterful characterizations. This is the best yet from a creative and gifted author. Agent: David Hale Smith, InkWell Management. (July)
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