The Ingenious and The Colour of Life by J.Y. Sam

Fresh and original YA meets sci-fi adventure


Every so often I read a book that defies genre stereotyping and I certainly can’t pigeonhole The Ingenious and the Colour of Life by J.Y. Sam

A coming-of-age story that follows the adventures of a group of super-intelligent, supernaturally-gifted teenagers as they battle against the evil that threatens to destroy them, this carries threads that will appeal to fans of Young Adult fiction, sci-fi buffs and dystopian fiction afficiandos.

Milly Bythaway’s strange powers include an amazing memory, and a preternatural gift for art, mathematics and languages. Tai Jones can read minds. Mei Hui has a gift for empathy and understanding. Along with four other children, their minds were genetically altered at conception by Professor Harald Wolff and Dr Kendra in a secret project to breed genius children.

But when things went awry, the children were scattered across the world.

Now something or someone is threatening them again, and gradually they gather together with now-blind Professor Wolff in an underground shelter called Avernus, where – with the help of non-genetically engineered-but-very-bright Calista – they build a computer system that will help them seek out and hopefully destroy their enemy.

They face danger and heartbreak along the way, but fortunately the Professor has plenty resources to call on to help them, including trained killer agents, spyware and access to the government. But can he help them save themselves?

In a thrilling and tense stand-off things come to a head – but with some questions answered, there are more to be resolved, not least the whereabouts of some of the other children …

The ending lends itself to a trilogy, which is what the author promises.

This book certainly held my attention. Author J.Y. Sam has a gift for descriptive story-telling and uses it to great effect in showing us the backgrounds of the children. I particularly like Mei Hui’s story – as a very young woman alone in China, she’s one of the most interesting characters and could have had a book of her own.

The sci-fi and dystopian elements woven into the story carry familiar elements – Avernus resembles something you might see in a Doctor Who episode; the professor and his arch enemy, the mad assassin Penny Thomson, are characters you might meet in a Bond movie. The creatures like dogs, cranefly, bees and whales, who come to the children’s aid at various different times, are reminiscent of Philip Pullman’s daemons in His Dark Materials trilogy. There are even echoes of Artemis Fowl in the plot, though there are no faeries nor non-humans in this otherwise kaleidoscopic tale.

With so much going on, no wonder I couldn’t put it down!

There are minor flaws in this story – I felt it needed one central character for the reader to invest in, and also to pull the narrative together more tightly,  and the author sometimes goes off at a tangent to discuss metaphysical matters just when you are engrossed in the drama and willing the story on.

But I do think that if you’re a YA novel fan – as so many of us avid readers are – you will enjoy this book. It certainly kept me reading until the end.

The Ingenious and The Colour of Life is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book format

About the Author

The Ingenious and the Colour of Life is J.Y. Sam’s debut novel, planned as a trilogy. Visit her website  for more information. Follow her on Twitter @jysamwriter and on Instagram @jysamwriter

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