Blogger's note: Apologies to the author for the late review.
James Weems hears the chit-chat of microbes. Viruses, fungi, and bacteria buzz like a billion bees in his head. He would dearly love to return the gift. But then he learns that within these microbes lie the secrets of every living thing, the great tapestry of evolution, and the rules governing all life. Knowledge is power, and James may become the greatest force ever in medicine: a visionary who could end disease's reign over mankind.
However, others also possess this gift, and they guard it jealously. To tamper with its works is to incur their wrath.
And tampering is precisely what James intends to do.
The cover is a good representation of the novel itself-unusual, pretty, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it. Ezembe certainly grabbed my attention in the beginning with the main character, James, having an overwhelming aversion towards bacteria and fungi, so much so that he cannot physically go outdoors. It would have been great to see that develop into a very serious affliction for the rest of the novel, but it is resolved shortly and not really a problem later.
That seems to be a recurring issue with Ezembe-there is far too little conflict in this book and barely any antagonists. James is secretly being tested and a man wanting international fame (Bob) finds out. You would think Bob would be the main antagonist, but that doesn't quite happen. Bob calls in a consultant, who by himself is a significant character, but Bob kind of fades in the background afterwards. There are also two Nigerian men who consider James dangerous and want to take him out, but they are gone until the end of the book where they have a 'blink and you'll miss it' conclusion. Which is a shame, because I found the two Nigerian men very interesting and more time could have been spent developing their characters.
Overall, the characterization of the protagonists is okay and so is the descriptive language, but a significant portion is used to discuss biology, evolution, and James' role in it. I have a feeling that someone who has taken a semester in medicine would find this more appealing, and to give Ezembe credit there is a very clever scene at the end, but it just wasn't the book for me.
Final Grade: 3 out of 5. Lots of interesting scientific theories, but too little conflict to drive the story or the characters.
Ezembe can be found here.