Length: 400 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
John and Naomi Klaesson lose their four-year-old son, Halley, to a rare genetic disorder. Now, they want to have another child. But the possibility of passing on the disease is just as strong. Unable to bear the thought of losing another child to nature’s will, the Klaessons turn to geneticist, Dr. Leo Dettore. Criticized by many in U.S.A. for his unconventional thoughts and methods, Dr. Dettore continues to be the only hope for people like John and Naomi. His costs are high, but John and Naomi are willing to do what it takes to get the money together and get a chance at having another child – one that is healthy and free of the gene that they both carry. But things aren’t as simple as they’d expected. They’re offered a list of qualities – physical, emotional, and intellectual – that they can choose for their unborn child. And that’s only the beginning. Soon, John and Naomi start feeling overwhelmed by the extreme privacy of the clinic, by Dr. Dettore’s strange ways, and by the decisions they are expected to make. When Naomi finally gets pregnant, they believe that they’ve made the right decisions. But as they soon learn, their nightmare has only just begun.
The best part about Perfect People is its premise – the extinction of the current species of mankind as science lays the path for a new, more advanced, human being. It isn’t just the scientific aspect of the story that makes it interesting. What really goes towards making it an all round kind of book is the very human aspect of this scientific advancement. One threat is that humans will react to being threatened – we won’t go without a fight, even if it’s against a superior version of our own race. The second threat is from people who believe that science cannot determine the make of a human being. And the last threat is of morality – if given a choice to choose the amount of compassion your unborn child will have, can you actually take that decision for him/her?
James brings all these concepts together in Perfect People. And he does it really well. The characters, with their many strengths and flaws, are extremely human – they are people that you can see yourself becoming in that situation.
Yet, for how good the premise and characterization is, the story falls gravely short. The first thing is the timeline. It isn’t a story set over a few months, but one that is spread over many years. That is fine in itself except. it does begin to drag on at some points. You often find yourself saying, “Okay, get back to the real story.” That being said, you also keep turning the pages to know what happens next. So the book does manage to keep you relatively hooked.
What drives the rating of the book higher, though, is the end. It gets really intense towards the last quarter until it finishes at an absolutely touching, hard-hitting end.
While I’ve always been supportive of advancements in the field of science, I’ve always believed that we, as human beings, need to respect Mother Nature. Today, you can find many people who believe that they are above nature – that they can defy it or even control it, that they do not need to pay heed to the natural way of life. But like Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, Peter James’ Perfect People also shows that the laws of nature aren’t that easy to bend or break, that nature can and will win when it so desires. And that, in my opinion, was the best part of the book.
Although Perfect People is based on a premise in science fiction, I wouldn’t categorize it under the genre. While the beginning does focus on science fiction, as the book progresses, it moves more towards drama with a touch of the thriller genre. So if you’re looking for a science fiction drama, then Perfect People is the way to go. Don’t expect hard-core science fiction and you’ll enjoy the book anyway. It is a good read that can be considered as a little slow at times. That being said, I definitely like Peter James’ style and will be sure to read his other works, especially his murder mysteries/thrillers.