Defragmenting Daniel: The Organ Scrubber by Jason Werbeloff
Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller
Length: Short Story (145 pgs)
Rated: 4.5 stars
Review by Poppy
7 stolen organs. 1 vengeful victim. A gruesome sci-fi thriller.
Organ scrubbing was a bloody job, but somebody had to do it. Daniel, an orphan from the Gutter, was put to work scrubbing kidneys at aged twelve. The job had its perks: a warm bed, Law and Order reruns, and an all-you-can-eat Mopane worm buffet.
Until the Orphanage stole Daniel’s parts, and sold them on the organ market.
Now Daniel has grown up, and yearns to become whole again. The cybernetic organ replacements just aren’t the same – he needs his parts back. But the new owners of his organs won’t give them up. Not without a fight.
Just how far will Daniel go to regain his missing pieces? And how much more of himself will he lose along the way?
Defragmenting Daniel is a cyberpunk crime thriller that will unnerve you. Every part of you.
Disturbing, intriguing, and well-written, Defragmenting Daniel is not a book for the faint of heart.
I wasn’t sure what to expect while reading this book. And while I did have to suspend reality a bit in order to believe that organ transplantation surgery could be done and the patient up and a around in a couple of hours with little pain or indication of major surgery, the ramifications and possibilities of this story were a bit terrifying.
The gutter is where Daniel is from and it’s not a nice place. The Orphanage where Daniel lives exacts payment for services by both making him work as an organ scrubber and by taking body parts and replacing them with cybernetic parts. The Bubble is where the beautiful people live. They are those privileged enough to be able to afford real organs to prolong life (the reference to Cher cracked me up!). When Daniel turns eighteen, he’s allowed to leave the orphanage, and a search for his biological family leads him to develop an interesting set of beliefs, which include the need to be once again whole … and so the search for his taken body parts begins.
The story moves fast and world-building is a bit vague, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. Be warned, however, the story is bloody and violent and graphic and Daniel’s apparent disregard for humanity was a little difficult to handle. However, he is also oddly attractive and I found myself rooting for his cause, even while being rather disgusted by it.
Kage was an interesting addition as well. He (or she…) works for the police department and is determined to find the person behind a particularly gruesome murder. Apparently, s/he always gets his/her man.
The story surprised me by ending in a cliffhanger… Daniel has only just started his mission. That was frustrating, but I would certainly be interested in reading further to see how things end up for him. I’m still not sure if I want him to succeed or not. Honestly, my ambivalence is an indicator of the author’s skill. Being able to make Daniel sympathetic definitely takes some doing!