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Reviewed by Francis Mont for Readers' Favorite
The Ego Cluster by Robert Cole is a frightening glimpse into a world teetering on the edge of the abyss created by climate change, and the related social paralysis due to corporate greed and short-sighted political interests. Scientists discover a set of human genes that controls egotistical behavior, which contributes to pursuing self-interest at the cost of the common good. The plot revolves around key scientists working to develop a treatment for antisocial attitudes, but their research is subverted by vested interests who want to use it to control world leaders to serve their agenda. The Ego Cluster is in part a scientific introduction to the world of genetic research, and part a mystery story that quickly morphs into a hair-raising conspiracy leading to multiple murders. It is a real page-turner, raising the tension higher and higher, culminating in a bittersweet ending that feels all too real.
The plot is brilliant and quite originally developed, with unexpected twists and turns that keep reader interest high. The characters are finely drawn and convincing and the dialogue makes the reader feel like a witness eavesdropping on conversations. The philosophical content is both exciting and frightening at the same time, forcing the reader to face a question she or he would rather avoid. I assume that was Robert Cole’s main purpose – to make people think and seriously consider ‘inconvenient truths’. The Ego Cluster is also very entertaining, and, despite its short length, it packs a powerful punch. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in one day. I very highly recommend it, first of all to climate-change deniers, then to business and political leaders who need a large dose of reality, but also to the general public who need the information as well as an entertaining answer to our timely “what if” questions.