Editorial Review: Prime Derivatives by Jen Kerson

Editorial Review: Prime Derivatives by Jen Kerson

When a teen is terminally ill and a mysterious “center for wellness” steps forward to offer a potential cure – who are they to say no? However, the cure might come at too high a cost -- the patient's humanity.

Taylor Martin is “that” athlete. The one who shows up at a meet assured of their victory before they’ve even gotten in the door. Destined for the Olympic swim team, the terminal diagnosis is utterly unexpected. With a pregnant mother and no money for treatment, the family agrees to send Taylor away to a desolate desert research facility where everything is just a little bit…odd.

Pretty soon Taylor and friends have come far enough along to be told the truth, or at least, some of the truth. The only problem with demanding answers is that you might not like them, and once you know something you can’t unknow it.

Taylor and the other residents need to learn how to harness their odd new abilities and are assisted by their talking computers. These talking computers, however, are so much more. Taylor soon realises that no level of programming could replicate this level of personality quirks, their computers are actually sentient. With life getting weirder every day, Taylor the others are forced to be quick on their feet to deal with each new challenge – not to mention getting their homework done.

Prime Derivatives has the potential to be something very big in sci-fi, Jen Kerson has a remarkable ability to move the story forward quickly and with intense amounts of information without ever becoming boring or confusing. Starting with the shock of a 14-year-old protagonist who is diagnosed with a disease not normally seen in anyone over the age of 6, the plot twists are timed brilliantly and challenge your expectations not just of the story – but of Sci-Fi as a genre.

The writing is lively and amusing, with genuinely funny dialogue that will take any reader back to memories of their teenage years. Part of this magic is the depth of the characters; Jen Kerson manages to capture the complex phenomena of teens – children moving towards adulthood. The mix of childish antics and wise concerns is gripping.

The target audience may be young adult, but there is plenty of philosophical depth for adults to dig in to. Death, sentience, consciousness and the fine line between sanity and madness is explored in a remarkably readable and engaging way.

Jen Kerson has delivered a wonderfully fast-paced and engaging first installment of what promises to be a developing series.