Perfect People - Peter James

Reading Challenge Category: Book club August read

Official Blurb:

John and Naomi Klaesson are grieving the death of their four-year-old son from a rare genetic disorder. They desperately want another child, but when they find out they are both carriers of a rogue gene, they realize the odds of their next child contracting the disease are high.
Then they hear about geneticist Doctor Leo Dettore. He has methods that can spare them the heartache of ever losing another child to any disease – even if his methods cost more than they can afford.
His clinic is where their nightmare begins.
They should have realized that 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 . . .

My Thoughts:

This was the latest choice from my Book Club. It was chosen based on one of the members having read quite a few of this author’s books. This is a standalone, though, so we decided on this as we didn’t want to get embroiled in a series.
It was really intriguing, to begin with, especially having read the forward and how the author came up with the concept for the book. I was looking forward to where the story would take me. It was exciting knowing it was going to be based on what our future could potentially hold for us. It is also a terrifying concept that we may have these ‘super’ beings in the future with only the rich succeeding in life due to a head start their parents will have given them. It may also be a good thing that we will be able to separate out bad genes. Having lost a friend at the age of 14 to Cystic Fibrosis, knowing that this is one of the genes that can be eliminated fills me with hope for the future. However, I think a fine line will be drawn on what will push the acceptability of change.
The book starts well; following on from the forward, we meet John and Naomi in the midst of a choice for a future baby. However, the book soon starts to get very slow in pace. When they were making their selections with Dr Dettore, I felt it was dragging and hoped we wouldn’t be going through each page they had to sign off on. It felt monotonous. I wanted more hooks and things to keep me interested.
The process got me thinking about whether I’d want such a responsibility of choosing certain things for my unborn child. I’ve always thought parents were supposed to love their children no matter what. Yes, they want the best for them, but at the same time, surely parents are just happy to have a healthy child. A manufactured one seemed to have so many potential problems, as we saw as the book progressed.
After the initial trip out to meet Dr Dettore, the book does move through time a little faster. I still don’t think enough was happening to keep me gripped, but I knew something must come out of it; it was a thriller, after all, so I persevered.
There is a lot of minutia throughout the book, with John at work and Naomi coping with her new babies. There is just the odd spark of light when something strange happens. However, these sparks were so tiny they almost felt insignificant, and I held onto them in my mind just to try and make the book more likeable. The book is a long one at 508 pages; on the one hand, it could have had a lot of the day-to-day events cut out, but on the other, it did feel kind of nice being enveloped in a book for a more extended period than normal.
The ending speeds up a little, and things start to happen that have you gripped to the edge of your seat. However, the answers you get left me infuriated. I was frustrated with the author for such weak conclusions and annoyed with the character giving the answers. He had me rilled up, and I kept thinking about what it had cost the Klaessons to ultimately not get what they had asked for. There were also a few plot holes in here that I can’t go into without giving any spoilers.
Now for that ending…. I messaged my book club group with simply the message ‘hmmmmm’. I felt so let down by it. Based on what DrDettore had been pushing for and advertising, it just made no sense. I felt like I had wasted my time reading this book. After I had calmed down a little, I sort of understood why it had to be this way, but I think there were so many other routes the book could have taken and so many different endings that would have been infinitely better than this one.
The best thing about the book was the group of radicals tearing through the designer babies. They did manage to keep an air of thrill throughout the book as they seemed so determined and ruthless. If it hadn’t been for their insights, the book would have fallen even flatter than I felt when I finished it!
So, even though it was a struggle to get through it in places, I didn’t feel like I wanted to give up, and I did enjoy the majority of it, but that ending ruined the whole book for me, so this will only be an average read with a three-star rating.

Perfect People
by Peter James
Date Started
19th August 2022
Date Finished
23rd August 2022