solo/down by Lauryn Allison Lewis

solo/down by Lauryn Allison Lewissolo/down by Lauryn Allison Lewis
Published by CCLaP Publishing on January 1, 1970
Genres: Science Fiction
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.

It is perhaps the day after tomorrow, or maybe the day before yesterday. Two lone scientists work in isolation at a deserted vaccine laboratory, in what may or may not be an apocalyptic America beyond their locked compound, attempting unspeakable experiments in combining plant and insect DNA to produce crops that can defend themselves against attackers. One gets pregnant with twins. A minor lab accident mixes this DNA with her embryos, producing hideous monsters locked in an age-old battle. And that's when the mysterious Solo shows up and decides to make things really interesting. The Chicago Center for Literature and Photography is proud to present solo/down by Lauryn Allison Lewis, a dark and surreal body-horror tale in the spirit of David Cronenberg or J.G. Ballard, her full-length literary debut after the self-published and cultishly popular The Beauties in 2011. CAUTION: Not for the weak of either stomach or spirit.
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I was nervous about reading solo/down because the back of the book describes it as a “dark and surreal body-horror tale.” Totally outside my comfort zone! Not to mention, the book’s description ends with: “CAUTION: Not for the weak of either stomach or spirit.” Yikes. But it’s CCLaP, and I have yet to be disappointed in one of their titles. I trusted and gave it a try… and I was blown away.

I loved the alternating perspectives, which changed seamlessly without any notation as to who the narrator was at any given time. It wasn’t necessary. Somehow, the author was able to convey that with little to no effort on the part of the reader. Also, the parent/child and sibling dynamics added an interesting thread to the story as well. I appreciated how Lewis was able to weave deeper issues into such an action-packed novella.

So yeah. This story is downright creepy! I was scared for Astrid, I couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out what happens next, but I was absolutely terrified to find out. The ending was sad, bittersweet in an odd way, shocking, and absolutely bone chilling.

solo/down is a thrilling sci-fi novella with just enough horror and magical realism thrown in. I’m glad to say, I learned I’m stronger in “stomach and spirit” than I expected. This was an exciting read, one that will appeal especially to sci-fi fans.