The novel “Rejuvenation Book 1” by Byddi Lee was published for the first time in 2020. It’s the first book in the Rejuvenation trilogy.
Twenty years after the alien attack that caused the glaciers melting, Bobbie Chan works as a geriatric doctor looking after elderly people who are often over 100 years old. Medicine led to a remarkable growth in people reaching that age despite the huge losses of the war, but they need a lot of medical assistance.
When Bobbie discovers strange symptoms in some patients that indicate rejuvenation, she and her colleagues are perplexed. Some patients who are over 100 years old seem to rejuvenate for a while but then die, creating an additional medical problem. Bobbie’s grandmother is among the people who survive, but she starts showing signs of mental imbalance.
The beginning of this novel shows a world that, in the mid-21st century, was devastated by an alien attack that left its continents partly submerged due to the melting of glaciers caused by alien weapons. Human civilization survived by adapting to the changes, for example by living in more or less submerged buildings.
The aliens are only the initial mystery of the novel since it’s not known where they come from nor the reasons for their attack to the Earth. Twenty years after that attack, very old people suddenly start rejuvenating. Some of them die a few days after the start of the process but others survive and also start showing serious alterations in their personality.
Bobbie Chan is a geriatrician, so she worries about her patients when she gets directly involved in the mystery of their rejuvenation. Her grandmother starts rejuvenating as well, so Bobbie feels even more the tension due to her fear that she will die. The tests give no results and there’s a fear that an alien biological weapon caused that rejuvenation.
The events are viewed from Bobbie’s point of view, also through what happens to her family. She lost her her father and her grandfather in the war against the aliens, her grandmother is among the rejuvenated patients, her mother dies of a form of cancer that medicine hasn’t yet managed to cure, she has a difficult relationship with her sister.
The centrality of Bobbie’s family is very strong, but the author developed it in a way that helps the story’s flow, avoiding using its problems in a way that would reduce it to a soap opera. This also helps to give depth to the important characters. Bobbie is a character who shows some complexity from the start and other important characters have various developments.
The mysteries surrounding the rejuvenation of the elderly also allows to address some ethical and moral problems associated with the care of people who are no longer self-sufficient. The novel is set just over thirty years in the future, so the problems are similar to those we have today, projecting the possible increase in the number of centenarians into the future.
The initial part has a rather slow pace because, after discovering the first abnormal symptoms in elderly patients, Bobbie and her colleagues conduct various tests and discuss their results. The interest is given by the mystery and the tension caused by the deaths of some patients. The pace picks up after some surviving patients start behaving in strange ways, and the last part of the novel contains a lot of action along with some answers.
The novel has no real ending showing it’s the first part of a larger story that continues to be developed in its sequels. It contains elements I found intriguing that made me want to continue with the Rejuvenation trilogy. It’s a case where a judgment can only be given after finishing the story.