Author: Jessica Khoury
When Sophie Crue receives a mysterious email from her mother asking for her help, she immediately jumps on a plane. But getting to her mother is easier said than done, for Moira Crue works on Skin Island, an remote island near Guam. Shrouded in mystery, the small island instills fear even in the locals. Jim Julien, a young pilot, is the only one willing to take Sophie. When the two of them barely survive the landing, they discover the whispered dangers surrounding Skin Island are true. Scientific experiments have wielded dangerous results; and both Sophie and Jim find themselves entangled in the horrors of human experimentation. No place is safe on Skin Island, and getting off may just be impossible.
“Something snapped, something Sophie knew was most likely not supposed to snap, and the plane went into a violent spin…Everything whirled around her as if she were caught in a giant blender, colors and shapes coalescing into a dizzying rush. An earsplitting screech sliced through her head, a thousand nails on a thousand chalkboards, or forks scraping china plates, so loud that she felt it vibrating in her teeth.”
I had a lot of issues with Jessica Khoury’s Vitro, so I’m going to start with what I did like. Khoury’s novel deals with the ethical problems surrounding human experimentation, and how quickly one can lose control when trying to control human beings. In a way you root for the chaos than ensues in hopes it will teach those who devalue human life that there are consequences for doing so. In the end you discover just how twisted these scientists have been and it is truly disturbing. Above all else, Vitro emphasizes the importance of free will: it is a right and without it, one cannot truly live.
Sophie is all too eager to come to her mother’s rescue. Having spent most of her life sharing her mother with her work, Sophie has been waiting to feel wanted. But my goodness, girl! I felt like I was watching a horrible horror flick and the main character trusts too soon and lets herself be led like a lamb to a slaughter. Common sense seemed to go right out the window for Sophie or maybe she never had any to begin with (after all, she let one email persuade her to leave home in fear her mother was in danger but never once gave thought to calling any sort of authority). I was simply shocked that she didn’t have a lot more resolve before following a stranger so blindly.
I found Vitro to be too predictable at times which had me questioning Sophie’s intelligence further. Khoury tries to instill a bit of humor in her novel with snarky comments that either fall flat or feel forced. One troublesome character, who I will not name, is constantly running around causing problems and though it’s supposed to instill a level of fear in the characters, all I could think about was how silly this character seemed. This includes bad monologuing, in which the character tells you what horror will come about based on their master plan, but doesn’t get around to it because they just…wouldn’t…shut…up. That came out a little harsher than I intended; but Vitro felt more like a filler book than a complex story.