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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Implanted by Lauren C. Teffeau (Reviewed by Lukasz Przywoski)

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Lauren C. Teffeau was born and raised on the East Coast, educated in the South, employed in the Midwest, and now lives and dreams in the Southwest. She is a graduate of the Taos Toolbox workshop, a master class in writing science fiction and fantasy. Implanted is her debut with Angry Robot.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: The data stored in her blood can save a city on the brink… or destroy it, in this gripping cyberpunk thriller.

When college student Emery Driscoll is blackmailed into being a courier for a clandestine organisation, she’s cut off from the neural implant community which binds the domed city of New Worth together. Her new masters exploit her rare condition which allows her to carry encoded data in her blood, and train her to transport secrets throughout the troubled city. New Worth is on the brink of Emergence – freedom from the dome – but not everyone wants to leave. Then a data drop goes bad, and Emery is caught between factions: those who want her blood, and those who just want her dead.

FORMAT/INFO: Implanted is 400 pages long and is divided into thirty two chapters spread over two parts. Narration is in first person solely via Emery Driscoll. The book works as a standalone, although the ending makes the sequel possible.

The book was published in August 7th, 2018 by Angry Robot. It’s available in paperback and ebook format.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I’m new to Cyberpunk. Sure, I saw Johnny Mnemonic and read Altered Carbon but that’s basically it. Not much. I have no idea why as I enjoy fancy advanced technology mixed with dystopian elements. Well, on the bright side, I have a lot to discover.

Implanted hooked me with the premise and unique concept of the hemocryption - coding data in the blood cells. Not only it’s imaginative but also infinitely cool. Here’s the quote explaining the process.

Aventine employs a proprietary hemocryption process where data’s encoded onto the protein strands of your immune cells in your bloodstream. When you get an assignment, encoded blood’s injected into your body. When you arrive at the drop-off location, your blood needs to be scrubbed – essentially a type of dialysis where the encoded cells are separated out from the rest of your blood. The data encoding is geared to a specific HLA type that you and the other couriers have. In other words, you are immune, unaffected by the encoded blood, where people with different HLA types would become sick, with something akin to anaphylactic shock, if injected.


In the world of Implanted, people live under a glass dome that separates them from the hostile environment outside. New Worth, built on the battered foundations of Fort Worth, Texas, makes life difficult and demanding, especially for the underprivileged. Under the dome, everything comes to status, credit balances and career potential. Stratified society lacks common goals and a sense of solidarity. Emery Driscoll hopes to pursue a career in data curation. Unfortunately, her DNA has special traits that make her interesting to a clandestine security company. Soon, she finds herself blackmailed into being a blood-courier. She has to cut off any ties with her friends and family.

Officially, she dies.

For the most part, Implanted kept me glued to the pages. A dystopian world, a stratified society obsessed with technology and thought-provoking concepts make it an excellent read. Especially that Teffeau introduces everything accessibly. Her prose flows nicely and never gets in the way of the story.

Teffeau tells the story in the first-person present tense. As a result, the reader is experiencing the events of the book at the same time as the narrator. I would say this feeling of going through the plot together creates an instantly closer relationship. On top of that, Emery remains likeable throughout so rooting for her comes naturally. She’s a fully fleshed, three-dimensional heroine with an interesting backstory that defines her choices. I found her admirable.

While we don’t get to know other characters so deeply, they all feel distinct and believable. They are fixated on technology and connectivity, and it allows for passages of interesting explanation. Emery’s point of view is saturated by technology because her perception is shaped by it. Like most people, she has an implant that allows her to constantly ping emotions and thoughts with her friends and family. She’s addicted to the neural implant, instant connectivity and resulting camaraderie. When she loses it, Emery goes through the feeling of mental amputation.

There’s a romance, but it develops slowly and convincingly.

Apart from things done right, Implanted has a few things going against it. In the second half of the book, the plot becomes a little unclear. Emery’s storyline intertwines with larger things, but the connection feels loose. For example, I still don’t know how corrupt is the government. Adding data about the world and things that actually happen there, would make the story more comprehensible. The ending scenes were bloodcurdling, but the last chapter felt too tidy and, as a result, anticlimactic.

Regardless of these issues, Teffeau paints a distressing and convincing picture of the future I wouldn’t like to experience.

In the realm of ratings, I’d say this landed pretty solidly in the lower-end of what I enjoy.  I really like it. It was a solid book that read fast, kept me engaged, but didn’t really amaze me. Worth the read though.



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