Venomous Lumpsucker by Ned Beauman

In the not-so-far future, animals are going extinct on an epic scale. Companies can buy and sell extinction credits that allow them to wipe out an animal species in their business pursuits. Activists and scientists are taking steps to preserve the DNA of as many species as they can before they are gone forever with the hopes they might one day be resurrected.

Karin is a researcher signed on with a company to investigate the endangered venomous lumpsucker fish. The company wants her to sign off that the fish is unintelligent and therefore ok to kill with one of their extinction credits. But it turns out the fish is incredibly smart and may be aware that it is being killed off.

Most people accept that animals are expendable, but eco-terrorists still fling lumps of cloned panda flesh at company execs while dedicated researchers attempt to reanimate animals based on their brain scans. Technology has made great leaps in trying to preserve the animals, but it’s probably too little, too late for most.

In this world, people are still people. They all have an angle and a goal. Karin’s goal is to save the venomous lumpsucker from extinction. When terrorists blow up all of the major gene banks in the world, they essentially definitively eliminate all species who were ‘saved’ by cataloging DNA, video, and data. Hope is lost for most. These animals are really and truly gone now, even though they hadn’t walked on Earth for years already.

But there might be hope! Video of the venomous lumpsucker surfaces in an area it wasn’t known to live. Could it have unknown breeding grounds somewhere else?

Read Venomous Lumpsucker to find out if this little fish has a shot at making it by surviving the 6th mass extinction.

I can’t get over this book cover! Ah! It’s beautiful and glorious, so I picked up the book to take home.

The fluorescent pink, the adorably ugly fish face, the dark bold text. It was so simple and so lovely. That little fish was coming home with me.

I thought at first it might be an actual science non-fiction book, but upon closer inspection, it’s actually a novel. Turns out this book was also released about 4 days before I read it! I had no idea it was that new.

Be prepared that this novel has some pretty depressing outlooks on the fate of animals in our world. It’s like a dystopian future that we basically already know is going to happen, it’s just a matter of when. The sci-fi technology all seems relatively plausible. The mass extinction of species is already real.

I liked the main character Karin because she was tough and determined. She wasn’t shy about going against the mega-company execs. She knew what was right and went on ridiculous adventures to save a fish.

My least favorite aspect was too much made-up jargon and names of companies that didn’t really seem to advance the plot. I skimmed over the names of companies and laws and events. It added complexity to the world being created but ended up being a jumble that wasn’t relevant. It would be enough to know that a law was passed in this world without knowing the name, the legislator who proposed it, and the date.

Another point: this book was repetitive. It could have been 70 pages shorter without the frequent recaps. For some readers who may need several weeks to finish the book, this could be a very good thing! The characters frequently lament past events and reconsider their feelings about said events. Reading this quickly though, made the pace slow down and feel forced.

Overall, this novel was unique and I appreciated the fact that in 2022, it hits hard. The reality of our planet is that it is dying and we are doing nothing about it. It’s a call to action.

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