ARC Review: C.J.: This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada aka I don't think my brain has enough levels to read this without exploding

title: This Cruel Design
author: Emily Suvada
pages: 432
format: Paperback ARC
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 5/5
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Topics: Science, Disease, Cyberpunk, Apocalypse
CW: Abuse, Murder, Disease, Death, Gore, Torture 

5 lemons - I'm loved it! 

Gene hax   

If you haven't read THIS MORTAL COIL, go check my review of that first. Here be spoilers for book one. If you have, still proceed with caution, because THIS CRUEL DESIGN is going to murder your brain. Emily doubles down on the mindfuckery and sci-fi thrillride of her debut to bring us an action-packed sequel that ignites from page one. We're back in Cat's world, full of genehackers who rewrite their bodies into marvels, postapocalyptic pandemic zombies, and a mutated Hydra virus that threatens to destroy everything Cat and her friends have worked for. They're caught between trying to save humanity's minds from the machinations of her megalomaniac father, and trying to save humanity's bodies from a virus that could be species ending.

Yeah. Just try not to read it.

Don't go to sleep   

Emily is the queen of compelling. I had the hardest time putting it down even for necessary bodily functions, because every page seems to be fraught and urgent, ever chapter end is a shocker, every reveal is more explosive than the last one. By the time I hit the last page, I was frantically searching for more.  Her sense of pacing is exquisite, with just enough downtime to give you a breath before catapulting you into the next sequence. With the Hydra virus back and more brutal, and Lachlan and his world domination plan in the wind, the stakes were never higher. Hold your breath.

You thought you understood Zarathustra, Cartaxus, and the Genehacker's world? This book changes everything. Everything Cat thought she knew about herself is suspect. Everything we knew about Lachlan and Jun Bei is turned upsidedown. Even Cole is hiding something, and Cat's new "friend" Mato--a brilliant Cartaxus hacker who joins their side--knows more about her than he should. Emily dishes out a whole feast of secrets and backstory. You're never on solid footing, but Emily does give you enough grounding to feel like you've almost figured things out--right before punching you in the face.

It's SCIENCE man   

Emily delves even deeper into what the science of genehacking could be, and no matter how bizarre it gets--from changing your brain to multiple levels of consciousness--it's always 100% clear that the science behind her imagination is rock solid. You don't have to be a geneticist to understand what's going on, but even the most avid science nerd should be satisfied by the theoretical backing.

Remember who you are  

The tech is badass and the plot is thrilling, but what makes this book exceptional is the characters. Cat isn't some puppet. She grapples so much in this book with her changing identity, as snippets of her past collide with everything she thought she understood about herself. She struggles to reconcile her relationship with Cole, Leoben, and the other black-out agent Anna in the present with the memories she has of her childhood. Instead of being constantly reactive to all these people who know more about her origins than she does, she takes charge and fights, deciding who she wants to be rather than who she's told she is. I actually liked Cole less in this book, because he seems so set on status quo while Cat is all about moving forward. But even the secondary characters feel fully realized.

That's the beauty of Emily's writing. She succinctly creates this whole world around you. You feel like you know these people, and you can't help but caring so much about them that every reveal--right up to that WHAT THE HELL ending--is soulcrushing. If you read this and don't immediately want book three, you have no soul. THIS CRUEL DESIGN is a masterpiece of science fiction, the spiritual successor to Scott Westerfeld's UGLIES that I always wanted, and a force in its own right. 

My thoughts overall

A mindblowing sci fi thriller that combines badass tech and ceaseless action with deeply human characters.

Will I read this author again? Yes please right now
Will I continue this series? I'd have read the next book already if I could 

More Reviews for This Cruel Design  

My Thoughts Literally! - Review: #Murdertrending
A Backwards Story - {Review} #Murdertrending 

Note: I received this copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.  


  1. AHHH. I am so, so, so very excited to read This Cruel Design at some point soon. I loved This Mortal Coil so much and your review made me even more impatient to get to it! :D

    1. Yay! It's honestly such a fabulous book. I'm still shook.