Raising ethical and moral issues

2012-10-17 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Perfect People

Peter James

Macmillan

 

WHAT if you could order a perfect child from a catalogue? That is what an American couple do.

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 they also realise the odds of their next child contracting the same disease are high.

They hear about famous geneticist Dr Leo Dettore. He has new unorthodox methods that can spare them the heartache of ever losing another child to any disease. He can isolate the genes you want and create a perfect child.

His clinic is where their nightmare begins. He invites them on board his specialised ship where they are to undergo counselling and testing.

They should have realised something was wrong when they saw the list. The choices are too good to be true — eye colour, hair, sporting abilities. They can literally design their child.

Naomi undergoes the fertility treatment and they leave the ship. They notice that on the ship another couple are also having the treatment. But now that Naomi is pregnant and their suspicions are deeply rooted, they can’t turn back. Naomi is told by Dr Detorre she is pregnant with a boy child. But a few weeks later, a scan reveals that in fact she is expecting a girl. How could such a simple mistake happen?

When the couple try to contact Dettore for an explanation, he is unavailable. Then he is killed by a weird religious group called the Disciples of the third Millenium. The couple are even more shocked when Naomi delivers twins and these children are not at all like normal children. They are uber-intelligent and emotionally removed from other people.

These twins do not want any affection or it seems they do not need anyone except each other. The Klaessons’ lives descend into a chaos as they try to understand what Dr Detorre has created and how to cope with these children.

The book raises a number of ethical and moral issues about the role of science in genetics and the possible consequences of genetic engineering. A good read.

 

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