Good morning everyone,
Today, we’ll look at a novel from Jon Pulli entitled “Growth.” This was first published on February 17th, 2021, and consists of 312 pages. Its plot involves a popular drink called Lifio, which rewrites human DNA, being distributed around the world! This genetic restructuring substance initially appears to have absolutely no downsides because it makes human beings nearly immortal, eliminating the threat previously posed by ailments such as aging, cancer, and other diseases. (NOTE: Although, people can still perish due to accidents, physical injuries, starvation, etc.) Furthermore, humans don’t even become fat if they overeat. Instead, excess calories just make them taller!
Given that premise, this would seem to be a good fit for size fetish fans. (NOTE: Going into this, I know it wasn’t going to be a sex-filled orgy. Yet, I thought it would have played around at least a little with the theme.) However, the apparently unlimited growth carries with it new perils and stresses the food supply to its breaking point.
In the real world, rich and powerful individuals engage in activities, like flying on private jets, which emit far more greenhouse gases than the activities of less wealthy individuals. Greenhouse gases are causing climate change which has detriment consequences for everyone. The rich and powerful are accelerating climate change more than the rest of us. In Growth, rich people eat too much, grow larger and require more calories and then they overeat again and grow some more, etc.
(SIDE NOTE: This effect creates a trap for high-wage earning employees. When working they make lots of money and can afford lots of food, causing them to steadily become larger. Unfortunately, bigger bodies require more calories to sustain. They became extra-big while employed, but then when fired and without income they are more susceptible to starvation because they require more calories. Plus, in a realistic turn, there’s no way to shrink back to normal.)
Overall, it’s important to recognize that the threat in Growth is an analogy for the real-world threat posed by issues like global warming. Additionally, Growth includes a lot of other real-world references. For example, American politicians were explicitly identified as being Democrats or Republicans. So, some readers may be dismayed when one side funds a research project which ultimately saves humanity and the other is responsible for making the situation worse. Ergo, depending on which party a reader prefers, they will either be happy or mad. (SIDE NOTE: At least one European political party, Germany’s Christian Democratic Union, was also mentioned, but only as a brief aside.) Additionally, presumably mimicking their COVID lockdown approaches, Scandinavian countries and New Zealand were highlighted as protecting themselves from the gene-manipulating beverage.
(NOTE: The file hosting service “Dropbox” was also mentioned. That may date the narrative if Dropbox ever goes defunct. Although, maybe Dropbox is eternal and my fears are inappropriate 😉 )
Additionally, there was a lot of time spent with the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) trying to determine what ill effects Lifio could cause while the American public complained about the FDA pulling it off the market. Those portions were boring. I already read the novel’s title, “Growth,” and the description. So, I already knew the negative effects, unrestrained growth leading to starvation. I was twiddling my thumbs waiting for the story to catch up to where I already was. Perhaps if that fact had not been disclosed in the description and title then I would not have been impatient.
If Lifio had other adverse effects that weren’t already spoiled in the description then I would have been satisfied when the scientists finally, after several years, finish their analysis. For example, maybe Lifio turns people into vampires and werewolves if they drink it on a full moon. Or, to ratchet up the terror, Lifio could make people commit truly unspeakable acts like adding pickle to their tuna fish sandwiches. (Apologies if my gruesome imagination went too far!) 😉
There’s no sizey fun here unfortunately, but that was to be expected since the author doesn’t appear to share our interests. Of course, I never expected that this was going to be a full-length “Jill’s Growth Formula.” (Although, that would have been awesome!) Nonetheless, there was no conversation in which a young lady complains that she ate too much last night and thus must now dispose of her too-small 36B cup bra and shop around for a new 36DDD. (More’s the pity… 😥 )
There wasn’t even a scene in which characters expressed amazement that they were getting taller. At times, poor people did remark how big rich people were, but surprisingly readers were never privy to conversations in which the well-to-do sit down and say “Isn’t it strange that we are growing?” Such conversations would have happened when it became obvious, but there weren’t depicted in this novel. Instead, the wealthy giants had apparently already learned and accepted their condition before our point-of-view character interacted with them. It must have happened just recently, over there, somewhere “off camera” to borrow the cinematic term.
More significant is the fact that there wasn’t a personable character to follow. Some were indeed of upstanding moral character and inspiring, but they had no memorable qualities, hobbies, or interests beyond doing the right thing. There was one “everyman” who took on the great challenge facing humanity only after it became a life-or-death problem for him and his family. That guy was instrumental to the solution, but he had a tragic fate. So, if someone did like him then they will probably not appreciate his arc.
Overall, if you’re looking for a sci-fi allegory applicable to global issues like climate change then Growth will fit the bill. Arguably, Growth did a better job crafting that analogy than the recent movie “Don’t Look Up.” However, if you’re looking for sexy growing action then you will be disappointed.
That’s it for today folks. Thursday’s review is going to cover a cartoon from the early 1980s. Until then, keep growing! (But in a sustainable way)
This review was written by SolomonG and is protected under Fair Use copyright law.
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