The Tree House by Shay Lynam (Self-Published, 2013, 272pp.)
***Spoilers are present.***
When two mysterious gunmen break into Hailey’s house and try to kidnap her, she just barely manages to avoid capture by fleeing into the maze of downtown Seattle. As the armed agents close in, she runs into a young man named Jack, who not only helps her escape, but also knows why she’s being pursued. Enter Sy, Jack’s superior, and the other members of the Tree House. What is the Tree House, you ask? Well, it’s certainly not the condemned building it seems to be (even though it does have a tree growing through its cement floor). Those who live in the Tree House are survivors—just like Hailey—in a massive science experiment gone awry.
Back in the 1990s, E. Scott Pharmaceuticals, headed by medical genius Eli Scott, experimented with newborns around the world that had been infected with neonatal tetanus, a disease contracted by infants when they are born into a non-sterile environment. To solve the problem, the company inserted a microchip into the infants’ brains in order to fight off the infection. Then, instead of sending the children back home to their parents, they were placed in the care of foster families so the company could monitor their progress. When something about the experiment went drastically wrong, the company made the decision to scrap both the project and its test subjects (hence, the chase-scene).
While The Tree House has plenty of action and romantic tension, the characters are flat, and the premise itself is, I’m sorry to say, illogical. Why would anyone use microchips to fight off tetanus? It’s a bacteria. There’s a shot for it. If there has to be experimental microchips involved, why not have the company focus on something neurological, like Parkinson’s? Also, why the need for secrecy? If the company is breaking human rights laws, why perform these experiments in the United States? Why not hold them in a third world country with where people can be bribed to look the other way? The Tree House is a problematic novel that still needs a lot of work, and is unfortunately one that I can’t really recommend to readers at this time.
Click on cover for image source.