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May 17, 2016

Well, the title is less literal than I’d (secretly) hoped, but Stephanie Saulter’s novel Regeneration is still a good ending to the series that began with Gemsigns and continued with Binary.

Gaela and Bal, the good parents from the first book, are still bringing up Gabriel, now 16, and an adopted sister they’ve named Eve. Two minutes after she is introduced, it becomes obvious that she is Zavcka Klist’s clone, the one whose birth was awaited in Binary. Zavcka is in prison, though, and Eve seems happy and safe.

The gillungs have cleaned up the water in the area of London known as “Sinkat Basin,” created a corporation called Thames Tidal Power for generating energy, and scheduled an event called “TideFair” to show what they can do, so that
“Now gems and norms of every description mingled in a colorful, noisy flow of bright clothes and brighter hair: exploring the bridges and quays that crossed and knitted together this watery village, watching technology demonstrations and holographic displays, playing with interactive modules, investigating booths selling everything from food and drink to scarves made of whisper-thin algae silk and vivid thermo-sensitive biopolymer bodysuits, to waterproof tablets and cranial bands.”

The TideFair is marred by an attack in the water that makes gillungs sick, and the main action of the novel takes place as Gabriel works with a gillung named Agwe and with Sharon and Mikal to find the source of the attacks.

At one point, Gabriel asks his gillung boss, Pilan, if he will take off the cranial band that keeps Gabriel from being able to read his thoughts, because the boss has asked him to help write a statement for Thames Tidal. This is pretty much what anyone who has ever been to a college Writing Center wants from a writing conference:
“It took Gabriel ten minutes of unfiltered conversation and half an hour of drafting to come up with the statement. He put in things that Pilan hadn’t thought to say out loud but that he sensed were part of what the Thames Tidal boss wanted to communicate.”
Yep, definitely an ideal world, there.

You see what good parents Gaela and Bal are, as Gabe asks their permission to tell his friend Agwe why it’s so important to protect his sister, and as they, in turn, manage to make everyone at Thames Tidal responsible for Gabe’s safety, so that for a moment “he felt less like the efficient, talented, and valuable press officer he knew himself to be and more like everybody’s slightly delicate and overly doted-upon young nephew.”

At the end, Zavcka takes a surprising turn, until she convinces even Aryel of her change of heart. Like Zavcka’s misguided followers, readers might have hoped for a more literal regeneration, but what we get is a new generation with renewed hope for human progress.

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