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(®Evolution #1)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  420 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Humanity stands on the brink. Again.

Surviving the Syndrome meant genetically modifying almost every person on the planet. But norms and gems are different. Gems may have the superpowers that once made them valuable commodities, but they also have more than their share of the damaged, the violent and the psychotic.

After a century of servitude, freedom has come at last for t
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 28th 2013 by Jo Fletcher Books
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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  420 ratings  ·  97 reviews

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Mogsy (MMOGC)
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

I seem to be reading a lot of social science fiction lately. Given the old “too much of anything” adage about excess, you’d think adding one more to the pile would have diminished my enjoyment or value of the experience. Now, with the average book that might be true. But then, Stephanie Saulter’s Gemsigns is anything BUT an average book.

Taking place over a period of about a week, the book plays out like a flurry of quic
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
Gemsigns is a novel set in a future where almost everyone has had some form of genetic modification. However, gems are genetically modified humans who have unique special abilities that set them apart from the norm population. They were originally created in response to an illness that threatened the human population, and were part of the reason the world was able to recover. Because they were engineered as tools, not much attention was paid to their social and emotional development. Until recen ...more
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars

This is a book I should have loved but just didn't connect with on any level.
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
A political SF thriller dealing with the implications of a genetically engineered underclass integrating with the rest of society.

Humanity succumbs to the Syndrome, a neurological condition that's basically a physiological reaction to the modern world, but is eventually saved by widespread cheap genetic engineering. One hundred years later the vast majority of humanity has been engineered to be immune to the Syndrome and many other diseases, but the corporations that pioneered GEnetic Modifactio
Gemsigns is shockingly ambitious. It’s uncomfortable and telling. It makes its readers look at themselves in a mirror that hides nothing. This is a book about what makes us human, and inspects how we react to the things we don’t understand, in a world where those reactions, however small, can make a world of difference.

I can’t, honestly, give this book enough praise. Saulter is an author to watch. Gemsigns is a must-read book if you are in the mood for something truly powerful.

Read my full revie
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in a near future, after humans have been affected by our technology. Genetically modified to survive but then why not go further?

Are GM humans actually human if they've been designed and bred? Are they too different? Very interesting debut.
Book Riot Community
Imagine a future in which genetically modified humans are not only possible but standard, and society is struggling to come to grips with the definition of humanity. Wait, you don’t have to, Saulter already imagined it for you. Gemsigns came out this past summer, and the only reason I’m not more upset about waiting until now to read it is that it makes the wait for the sequel (out in the UK, but not in the U.S. until May) shorter. Saulter’s characters are compelling, villains and heroes alike — ...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After so many years and hundreds of science-fiction novels, the speculative fiction can still surprise me by looking at what makes us human from new and interesting angles. Gemsigns is an amazing debut.
This was EXCELLENT and as a bonus it's a whole trilogy that's done, and which I plan to jam into my brain ASAP.
Jan 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I hesitate between 2,5/5 or 3/5, it was not bad, it was even quite good and thought provoking. But after the first quarter of the book it became kind of boring. I never had the rush to keep reading, I just made myself read to finish it and not DNF it since it's actually an interesting read. The gems are really interesting, that's why I would have loved to know more about them, I know it was not really the subject but I was really curious and hoped for more!
KL (Cat)
4.5 stars

Upon reflection, this book was one that touched on the beauty of what makes one human. Rather poignant at parts, yet surprisingly well written. The concept of an genetically altered race of super-humans is certainly not unique in the Sci-Fi genre. However, Gemsigns cleverly subverts the common (revolutions and uprisings) for a thoughtful exploration of morality.

Milo (BOK)

“An excellent début novel, Stephanie Saulter brings a stunning opener to a promising series. Handling several aspects from world-building to pace and character development wel, Gemsigns establishes itself as one book that you really should check out.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

"Humanity stands on the brink. Again.

Surviving the Syndrome meant genetically modifying almost every person on the planet. But norms and gems are different. Gems m
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Gemsigns is a book I didn't know I was desperate to read until I started it. I've been searching for a thoughtful, well-written, science fiction novel for a while, and this book ticks all the boxes, and more.

Interestingly enough, Gemsigns isn't about the uprising or revolution of the genetically engineered humans (gems), as is tradition with the sub-genre. The revolution is done and dusted, and the UN has issued a Declaration protecting gems from mistreatment. However, a UN declaration doesn't a
Jessica Strider
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, dystopian
Pros: shows multiple viewpoints of challenging issues, thought-provoking, wide range of interesting characters

Cons: first chapter’s style didn’t work for me

It’s been a year since the Declaration that made it illegal for Gemtech companies to own their genetically modified humans went into effect. In a few days Dr. Eli Walker’s report on wether gems are fundamentally different from unmodified humans will be delivered at a European Conference.

Zavcka Klist of Bel’Natur, one of the main Gemtechs, ha
Heidi The Reader
I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check!

Gemsigns is the story of genetically modified human beings who are appealing to the government to have rights of their own in a future world where they were created to save the human race.

As a political science major, this story was a fascinating examination of the dance in political arena and how manipulation of media can help (or halt) a movement. As an avid reader of science fiction, this was also a fasci
Joanna Chaplin
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It started out a bit shaky but then came together nicely. EDIT: I had more thoughts. It's a lot like a less action-y X Men.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gemsigns is sadly unrecognized for how remarkable it is. It may start out slow, but when it starts up it thunders like an avalanche and sweeps you away, deep, deep into the story. It's incredibly intelligent, thought out, well planed, and expertly written.
I'm more than eager to find out what happens next for my new genetically altered, rainbow haired friends in The Squats.
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-read
You can read the full review over at The Founding Fields:

Shadowhawk reviews one of the latest debut novels from Jo Fletcher Books.

“A great exploration of the ethical and moral dilemma regarding genetically engineered humans and how they fit into society, Gemsigns is one novel you can’t afford to miss reading this year.” ~The Founding Fields

Gemsigns is one of those rare novels that you know you are going to enjoy before you even pick it up, but when you sta
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-copy
I can think of maybe half a dozen authors I've given a 5-star review to for a debut novel. Stephanie Saulter is now one of them. Gemsigns simply grabbed me by the brain (and later, by the feels) and would not let go until I'd finished it - I read it over two sittings, and that break was a damned reluctant one.

The events of the book begin with the escape (from somewhere) of what we later realise is a runaway Gem (identity unclear), who somehow manages to simply disappear when she finally evades h
Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
Can we have more sociopolitical speculative fiction, y’all? Can that be a thing we ask the book gods for? Gemsigns happened to be lying around my Overdrive wishlist when I was picking out books for a long trip, and I happened to choose it out of all the books on my Nook on a train ride to Connecticut because the train was filling up rapidly with business bros and I wanted to quickly be in the middle of reading something in order to deter potential conversation-makers.

From inauspicious beginnings
Joel Salomon
Jul 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Joel by: John DeNardo (SF Signal)
“What shall be done with the four million slaves if they are emancipated? […] Our answer is, do nothing with them; mind your business, and let them mind theirs. Your doing with them is their greatest misfortune.”
Frederick Douglass, Douglass’ Monthly, January 1862
The concept of Stephanie Saulter’s Gemsigns is a straightforward variant of a classic SF trope: A deadly disease, called the Syndrome, made it so humanity needed to genetically modify itself. And once this “gemtech” was developed, and
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to read "Gemsigns" since I heard of its release in the UK. Sadly, years passed before I could get a hold of it in my chosen eBook format here in the US.

My 5-star rating reflects how I feel about this book. I could hardly put it down. Even though it dealt with familiar themes (genetically enhanced humans, or "gems"), it had a new way of looking at the problem that felt like it mirrored many modern day ethical quandries. The pacing and plot was fantastic. It was so well crafted that I th
The short review, is that I didn't find myself convinced by the story.

The longer version. Starting with the beginning, I found that the initial chapter opened with the author announcing that this would be pretension literary fiction, with a meditation on history. I reread it after finishing in case it connected more with the book, perhaps it did, but only microscopically. After the initial poetic meditation, the writing gradually settles down, though first it goes through some purple storytellin
Emma (howlsmovinglibrary)
I have a lot of conflicted feelings about this book, that make reviewing hard. On the one hand, Gemsigns has a diverse cast, and a really strong science fiction concept that is used to effectively interrogate issues of race and otherness. I want to promote books which engage with social justice on the level that this book does. On the other hand, the incredibly dense writing and detached method of third person narration meant that I struggled to engage with any of the characters, and keep readin ...more
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
As the blurb says, this book is gripping. It has a great concept and plays with interesting ideas. The legal and policy issues are fascinating and nuanced.

I have a few wishes for this book.

1. I wish some of the plotting was a little more nuanced. Many of the key points, like violence is unheard of in the current society, aren't raised until after violence occurs and the reader is left to wonder why people are so shocked. Yes, it says something about our society that I didn't find the levels of
May 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: strange-worlds
I'm not sure what to rate this...I keep going back and forth. I should love this book, based on the pretense and structure...but I don't. I like it...I think. I am hoping the the book club brings some insight into it and I can settle on a rating.
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent SF novel set during a week in the future when people assemble to decide how to classify and treat those who are different.

Stefan Fergus
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5* - this is a superb novel, excellent prose. Slight pacing niggles & accent-writing, but otherwise excellent.
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
originally posted at

I don't know how but Gemsigns had escaped my attention. Reading some positive posts about Gemsigns really got my fired up about it. Like I have mentioned in some other reviews, genetic tinkering IS for me one of the most alluring subjects to read about. With the current technology making leaps in all what is possible, the day that it may go wrong might actually be closer than we think... But it's also a difficult subject t
Ziggy Nixon
May 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Ziggy by: Goodreads recommendations
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi
1 star because honestly, 'did not like it' is more accurate than 'it was ok'...

"Gemsigns" by Stephanie Saulter is one of those few times that I've had to admit that even though a book was pretty well written (not my style but still, kudos for the technique and the obvious liberal use of a thesaurus... geez!) and had a fairly interesting premise (meh) that it still did absolutely nothing for me. Nada, none, zilch. I so hoped that the literal boredom I was experiencing after the first several doze
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Is there not an American Kindle edition? 1 2 Jul 12, 2014 06:52AM  

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Stephanie Saulter is a writer of speculative fiction and the author of the ®Evolution novels: Gemsigns, Binary and Regeneration. They're set in a near future that's been fundamentally altered by neurological pandemic, genetic manipulation and social media, and use the lens of an altered humanity to take a new look at the old issues of race, class, religious dogma and social conflict.

Before she got

Other books in the series

®Evolution (3 books)
  • Binary (®Evolution, #2)
  • Regeneration (®Evolution, #3)