Set at a time slightly in the future where climate change is threatening endangered populations of animals, technology has advanced to the point where certain people can ‘jump’ their consciousness into lab created animals (Ressy/Ressies), to monitor and learn from their behaviour. Teenagers are generally recruited for this research as their brains are most plastic. Katherine North 'Kit' is such a Phenomenaut, doing research as different animals to study their habitat and ability to find food.
She is the longest lasting Phenomenaut with seven years of jumps behind her, and is selected to work for the tourism department, where anyone can also jump into wild animals.This is where the trouble starts. Kit has a connection with her Ressies, but the tourists given the opportunity to jump don't and their actions often cause harm. Plus there are more secrets to discover, and the more Kit finds out the more disturbed she gets.
It is the descriptions of what it would be like to inhabit different animals that was really interesting. Not just mammals, (fox, elephant,bat, polar bear), but bird, snake and spider also feature with the corresponding alien sensory inputs deftly described. These chapters are helpfully named 'uncanny shift'. Katherine’s interactions with the animals are beautiful, disorientating, vivid.
Very original debut novel. Although the jumps between time frames can get a little confusing, it did not put me off from wanting to finish the book.
Title: The many selves of Katherine North
Author: Emma Geen
Recommended by Anita S, Blockhouse Bay Library
Anita S reads widely and eclectically, but most often random non-fiction fact books, good general and teen fiction, (often dystopian future types), fantasy and sci-fi if they cover a new angle on something, kids books and... actually she'll take a look at most stuff. Books are great! She also loves art and illustration..