Reviewed by Oona Juutinen
John and Naomi Klaesson lost their firstborn to a horrible genetic disorder and are now willing to do anything in order to have a healthy child. This leads to them searching the help of a mysterious geneticist, Dr. Dettore, who offers them the chance to have a “designer baby” – a child whose genetic makeup they get to choose. No hereditary illnesses? Check. Enhanced height and health? Check. Dr. Dettore can give the Klaessons the baby of their dreams.
But then, of course, things go horribly wrong…
I’m not usually very fond of thrillers of any kind, but the premise of this Perfect People was very interesting. Peter James forces the reader to ponder some huge questions, like the ethics of genetic engineering and how far exactly we are willing to go.
Unfortunately the fascinating subject alone is not enough, and I found the novel way less, well, thrilling than I would have hoped for. Especially the first half is fairly uneventful and consists mainly of the Klaessons wallowing in their misery or, alternatively, being very scared and yet seemingly incapable of taking any sensible action. Luckily the pace picks up when Naomi finally gives birth. And about what happens after that I will say but one thing: creepy children.
I happen to find creepy, blank-faced children pretty much the scariest thing ever, and it is the Klaesson’s strange offspring and the mystery of Dr. Dettore’s work that the real strength of the book lies in. The end of the book kept me up until the wee hours of the morning, racing through the pages to get to know what happens next, how will it end… And what the hell is wrong with those kids!
The beginning boring the reader could be counted as a bit of a fail from a book that is labeled a thriller, and at nearly 500 pages the book could have used some more editing. But in the end of the day, James did manage to get even a non-thriller reader such as myself totally hooked. And that is no small feat.
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