The novel by Andrew Niccol is set at a time in the future. During that time, children are born through genetic manipulations. The people born through natural means are taken to be ‘invalids.’ Therefore, they are supposed to perform menial jobs. In this story, it is Vincent Freeman, who is among the last people to be born naturally. The doctors who deliver him do a DNA analysis that reveals he can only live for 30.2 years because of his inferior genetic makeup. His parents take him as weak and do not expose him to situations that can put him in danger. Though Vincent’s mission is to work in space, his “invalid” cannot allow him to go for training.
Vincent has a younger brother called Anton, who was conceived through genetic manipulation and is considered superior. The two play a game they nicknamed “chicken.” The superior person is supposed to save the inferior one. Vincent saves Anton from drowning one day and escapes from home.
Gattaca aerospace employs Vincent as a menial cleaner. He wants to land a better position. An agreement is hatched for Vincent to use Jerome Eugene Morrow’s superior genes. Vincent has to dress well and walk with Jerome’s DNA samples whenever a test is required. Using the trick, he passes the interview and lands a lucrative job at Gattaca.
A murder that takes place at Gattaca makes Vincent and Anton meet. This was a week before Vincent is to do a space launch. Vincent is among those who are suspected to be part of the murder. When they play the chicken game, Vincent wins once again.
Vincent becomes close to a workmate called Irene Cassini because of the investigation. Irene cannot be part of the Titan mission because she has a defective heart. Vincent gives her encouragement to find ways of overcoming her genetic inferiority that affects her heart and become more confident. They end up falling in love. Jerome tells Vincent that the genes he has created can help Vincent last for double lifetimes. There is also a note that Vincent should read after take-off.
Vincent is to undergo another Genetic test before the launch. Dr. Lamar, in charge of the test, already knows Vincent’s real status. Because Lamar also has a son that is considered genetically perfect but is not in a real sense, he allows Vincent to continue with his state of genetic validity. The note contained Jerome’s hair strands. Jerome finally undergoes self-incineration.