- Title: Perfect People
- Author: Peter James
- Published: 2011
Perfect People is a thriller novel from the acclaimed crime and thriller writer, Peter James.
After losing their four-year-old son to a rare genetic disorder, John and Naomi Klaesson are grieving, yet want another child – one who will be free from genetic diseases and as healthy as possible. Geneticist Leo Dettore offers them a lifeline: the chance to choose the perfect genetic makeup of their new baby – their sex, their hair colour, abilities, and so much more. However, the couple notice something is wrong too late, and they can’t turn back, because Naomi is already pregnant…
I read Perfect People in abut 2-3 days, because it really had me hooked. In an era where genetically modifying embryos is already a possibility, the notion of “designer babies” does not seem that much more of a stretch, and James capitalises on this.
‘There are certain things in life that happen that shouldn’t happen – which don’t need to happen – and which science can now prevent from happening.’
(Perfect People, p.15)
It’s difficult to speak openly about my response to Perfect People without giving away spoilers, but I’ll try my best.
It’s a good thriller, and whilst some of the plot twists I saw quite clearly, others caught me completely off-guard.
I liked James’ style of writing, although the description was too poetic in places for me: elaborate imagery doesn’t’ gel with the book’s attempted realism and authenticity. Also, at one point, he used the phrase ‘quite unique’ – a grammatically incorrect phrase that bothers me immensely.
The scientist Dettore was suitably creepy, along with the psychopathic, genetically modified children he breeds.
However, I felt that the inclusion of religious extremism as an antagonistic force didn’t work well. Whilst sects, cults and religious extremism can be incredibly scary (and is thus often used in paranormal horror), it just didn’t feel authentic in Perfect People. I’ve no doubt that there are real people in the world prepared to use extreme measures to campaign against issues like genetic testing, but James’ fictional cult, The Disciples of the Third Millennium, felt like it was purely inspired by imagination rather than inspired by research. This mean that for me, the mentions of gods, prophecies and Biblical passages just fell flat.
I would have preferred to see Dettore’s psychopathic children rise as an antagonistic force – perhaps against parents, adults or other figures of authority, and it’s a shame this wasn’t explored.
Despite my criticisms, I still thoroughly enjoyed Perfect People, and would strongly recommend it.
Another blogger I came across, wrote that Perfect People is:
‘A true morality tale [that makes] readers ponder their lot, to be grateful for what they have and to fear taking risks with scientific advances that might change things for the better or for the worst.’
Thank you for reading!