Above World by Jenn Reese
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Set in the far future when humans have taken evolution into their own hands, there isn't a single unmodified homo sapien in this book. Instead people have diverged into sea dwelling Kampii (we'd call them mermaids), deep sea deepfell, airborn aviars, desert centaurs, and subterranean snakemen - all of the vivid imagery of fantasy rendered as science fiction. The story kicks off when Aluna, a Kampii about to receive her tail (they do this by swallowing a gene modifier) questions her village elders about their policy of absolute isolation from the rest of the world. Their very existence depends on technologies, such as the gene modifiers and necklaces that allow them to breath underwater, that they no longer know how to make or repair, so when it fails, so will their civilization.
Aluna and her best friend head for the Above World, and I won't spoil the adventures they have there in search of HydroTek, the company whose logo is on their breathing necklaces. I'll just say that there are a lot of cool settings, and some awesome fight scenes, both of which pay homage to Reese's other talents. Besides being a writer she is also a graphic designer and a martial artist. There is also a wonderful cast of supporting characters who can fly, swim, sing, shoot venom, and control computers through a furry animal interface. Admit it, that list has at least piqued your curiosity. I'm glad this is the first of a series, as I look forward to seeing what happens next.