September 22, 2023
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Book Reviews Fiction SCI-FI

Nissus by Carl Sorenson: A One of its Kind SciFi Masterpiece

Author: Carl Sorenson

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Year Published: 2023

Nerdection Rating:

“Nerdection Worth to Read”

If you’re a YA Sci-Fi devotee looking for some exciting book recs, here’s one you’re bound to love. Nissus, written by Carl Sorenson, is a sci-fi book that got the future of genetic engineering just right. It’s a coming-of-age story with politics and a confounding world you will definitely find fantastic. Let’s dive in the spoiler-free plot and why we recommend you to read this book!

Spoiler-free Plot of Nissus

In a world where you can become whatever you want and live however you wish, a girl struggles to maintain her identity.

Seventeen-years-old Agnes Barker hates bionics. These are people who identify themselves as a completely separate race from humans. These so-called Homo factus, inject themselves with tiny nanobots called mites. This way, they can modify their very genes and achieve the impossible in health, intelligence and beauty.

Agnes however hates it all. Living in a city populated with the normal humans, she questions the bionics’ very existence. Until one day, when her father being swept up in games of politics and deception is taken away by the Bionics, and Agnes is given a chance to travel to their very heart city, Nissus. What she will find there will change the perception of everything she firmly believed in.

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My take on Nissus

Well, this was a surprisingly fascinating read!


Sorenson’s world of Nissus is breathtakingly beautiful and intricate. It’s kind of a baffling utopia, a point where all the human struggles are bound to take a complete 360 degrees turn. The race of humankind from being enslaved to struggling for food and peace and shelter, to becoming whatever it wants to become and do—Nissus takes its readers into a make-believe kind of a world where humans have control over everything, everything— their bodies, their minds, the place where they live. Dare I say it was all very fascinating to read about.

One thing the readers may like to know before heading out for this roller coaster ride of Nissus is that there are quite a few scenes where our protagonist, Agnes, engages in debates and conversations with the Factus people to discover about Nissus, a plot device employed for readers to know about this futuristic world. I would have preferred something more subtle for filling us on the world building, yet the encounters were interesting and I was hooked on the spot.

The World

Moreover, Nissus is told in a way that you could judge for yourself what side you’re on: the Factus’ or Agnes’/Homo sapiens’. There’s no black and white in Sorenson’s world; there is only gray, and I found it quite refreshing that Sorenson trusted the readers to navigate the world for themselves–and see what they think is right and what is wrong.

Throughout the book, my support seemed to shift from Homo sapiens to bion… (as Agnes would have stumbled) um, Homo factus. Reading this book, you too might think like Agnes, fascinated by some aspects of Nissus and horrified by some. Like adults in the form of ten-year-olds. Yet the future of humans armed with genetic engineering and holography seems exactly like Carl Sorenson’s Brave New World where, 

No one pays money for food in Nissus, not usually.


Everyone knows that bees will leave you alone if you leave them alone—they don’t just attack out of nowhere. And since when do animals in Nissus attack anyone, anyway?

See? If you’re an advocate of shattering the bonds and entering a realm of genetic engineering where fantasy becomes fact, Nissus is just for you.


Coming to the characters, Agnes wasn’t exactly a strong female protagonist as I would have liked, nevertheless, she had her own fair share of trauma to handle, from a missing father to being thrust in a world where she had little control over her life, to being deceived again and again… Overall, she was a dynamic character and by the end of the book, she had experienced a significant growth arc.

Although, Agnes’ Factus friends, Sahil, Faylen and the others… now they were really great characters and supportive friends and you can easily fall in love with them. I hope their friendship is explored in the sequel too (yes, I’m certain there would be one!).

She was surprised to realize that these girls really were friends, Bionics or not.

The narrative, told in third person, was enticing to the point that the very first scene had me completely gripped and sympathizing with Agnes. Moreover, the stakes were pretty low so Nissus is a relaxing kind of a read. However, the political undertone added some tension in the story.

Overall, I’d highly recommend Nissus to fans of the timeless classic Brave New World, Marie Lu’s readers and sci-fi lovers who are intrigued by the new horizons of genetic engineering.

Content Triggers

Abduction of a parent, modification of body features, claustrophobic settings. However, there are no curse words or explicit content in Nissus. Suitable for ages 12+.

About The Author Of Nissus

Carl Sorenson has been a fan of science fiction (and fantasy) for many years – always interested in an intriguing premise matched with a good story. When he finds that an idea has been developing in his head for a while and won’t leave, it’s time to start writing!

Carl’s debut novel, Nissus, reflects his deep interest in understanding how science and technology can affect people – what their experiences are and how it informs their values and sense of purpose.

When Carl is not reading or writing, he is often hiking the trails and mountains of North Carolina with his family. Professionally, he helps develop software that models the operation and economics of the electric grid. He is passionate about human rights, human development, civic involvement and democracy, and education, as well as topics around the climate crisis and climate/energy nexus.

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