Perfect People by Peter James
Pages: 564 (paperback)
Source: Own library
John and Naomi are grieving the death of their four-year-old son from a rare genetic disorder. They desperately want another child, but they realize the odds of their next child contracting the same disease are high.
Then they hear about geneticist Dr Leo Dettore. He has methods that can spare them the heartache of ever losing another child to any disease.
At his clinic is where their nightmare begins.
They should have realized something was wrong when they saw the list. Choices of eye colour, hair, sporting abilities. They can literally design their child. Now it's too late to turn back. Naomi is pregnant and already something is badly wrong . .
Perfect People begins on a perfectly creepy note. John and Naomi are transported by helicopter to a boat moored outside American waters, in the middle of the night. They see no one other than the staff, even though the boat supposedly carries quite a few passengers who have paid a tonne of money to use the services of geneticist Dr Dettore. Now, for anyone that wasn't consumed by grief and a desperation for a child, this would be too freaky for words, but John and Naomi are both - and they choose to undergo fertility treatment under the care of Dr Dettore.
The plot is pretty much an examination of morals - John and Naomi lost their young son to a genetic disease, and although they are desperate for a child, they don't want to risk having another ill child. There are so many debates that I'm not touching with a ten foot pole, but in some ways I do find their logic understandable, even if I didn't completely agree.
Along with the narrative, the book is sprinkled with diary entries made by Naomi - and I was really conflicted whether I liked those entries or not - at times they made me feel quite sympathetic towards her, at others they made me actually dislike her. Overall I actually found both Naomi and John difficult to like and sympathise with, even though there were parts of the story where I felt incredibly sad for both of them.
A lot of the first part of the book is Naomi and John struggling with the decisions they make, which is interesting in a way, but didn't really grab my attention. I was almost desperately reading to see what would happen when Naomi gave birth, and at first I was on tenterhooks....and then a little bored....and then a little ambivalent....and when 'something' finally happened it was creepy but not - evil.
What I really didn't like about Perfect People was the final part of the book - for me it was completely unnecessary and not particularly well thought-out. Perhaps my expectations led to bigger disappointment than if I had gone into this one blind, but it just felt all wrong.
However, I did like how it ended - although there wasn't really much of an alternative, nor did it surprise me in the least. Overall, Perfect People had a lot of great ideas, a lot of potential, but was lacking in execution.