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Perfect People

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When a young couple join a fertility programme run by a clinic in America they little suspect that the happy day that follows is the last day of mankind's evolutionary supremacy. Mankind is facing its greatest challenge: obsolescence.Longlisted for the 2012 Wellcome Trust Book Prize.

484 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Peter James

200 books2,979 followers
Peter James is a global bestselling author, best known for writing crime and thriller novels, and the creator of the much-loved Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. With a total of 16 Sunday Times No. 1s under his belt, he has achieved global book sales of over 20 million copies to date and has been translated into 37 languages.

Synonymous with plot-twisting page-turners, Peter has garnered an army of loyal fans throughout his storytelling career – which also included stints writing for TV and producing films. He has won over 40 awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award, Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger and a BAFTA nomination for The Merchant of Venice starring Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons for which he was an Executive Producer. Many of Peter’s novels have been adapted for film, TV and stage.

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5 stars
2,506 (29%)
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3 stars
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237 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 821 reviews
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,317 followers
February 13, 2018
When John and Naomi lost their 3-year son to a genetic disorder, they turn to a geneticist who, for $400,000, promised to assist them in conceiving a genetically superior baby, one immune to the recessive genes.

Naomi becomes pregnant with not one but two babies and with the series of bizarre events leading to their birth, we, the readers, know something is amiss. When the babies start behaving abnormally, the couple reaches out to the good doctor only to find he'd disappeared.

Then an even more ominous threat gets interwoven: a religious cult on a crusade to take out said couple and their "designer" babies.

We then are taken on a trip far into a psychological sci-fi realm that the plot lost its appeal midway.

Here's where I think the story missed the mark.:
the book would have been more suspenseful had the author excluded the lead-in to the conception of the babies and instead started with a pregnant Naomi then, perhaps, through flashbacks, provided the back story. By writing the plot in real time, the plot sequences and the ending were blazingly obvious, making it rather unsuspenseful.

To then have the doctor presumed dead only to come back to life, made it more contrived. That the Kids turned out to be abnormal in a wholly different manner, was too glaring. The doctor returns to claim the kids? The kids ageing abnormally? Throw in the doctor's covert team of genetically altered super spy group, and all I could say was: Come on.

This was a plot driven book and although the premise has been previously explored by the late Michael Crichton, Mr James' spin was different enough to have made this utterly gripping.

Instead, we got a riddled plot, protagonists that we couldn't empathise with, kids straight from "Psycho" and some rantings by a Cult. Altogether, I think Mr James overreached with this one.
Profile Image for Andy.
1,442 reviews61 followers
April 17, 2016
Another of my wife's books, read while in India.

I really can't tell why most people are raving about this (note: spoilers present). The central concept is interesting but James doesn't go anywhere with it. We're stuck throughout with an annoying, rather generic couple who make a poor choice and then seem continually perplexed at the unusual consequences of their actions. I appreciate that they were (naively?) expecting something else but it's patently obvious to us as the reader that the mysterious doctor has a hidden agenda. He practically screams 70s-era Bond villain, private ship and secret island hideout included.

From the beginning they should realise something is not quite right, yet they never fully seem to. Even at the very end do they seem to forget everything and wonder if maybe it'll work out this time. Every time the twins do something unusual the parents act as though they cannot possibly understand what could be happening or why. They wanted the kid to be smarter yet act fearful and freaked out when they are. Despite the Dad thinking on a number of occasions that perhaps they should be treating the twins not as toddlers, but as older children/young adults (and indeed, being told the same by the psychologist) they immediately do the opposite. There is also some rather suspect parental behaviour and odd decisions throughout. Emotionally they're all over the place and rather immature, completely unprepared for what they were attempting (as an aside, I'm not sure what happened to the genetic counselling they should have received after the death of the first child but it should have explored many of their issues).

The sub-plot involving a religious assassin is initially interesting and though we don't get much characterisation, he's cold and relentless and a distraction. Until he gets to our family, when for no apparent reason he loses his cool completely, forgets how to shoot and stumbles all over the place before effectively getting killed. It seems like a completely different character.

I liked the Sussex and Brighton locations (places I've lived for years) and it's interesting seeing the Royal Sussex County Hospital show up (somewhere I've worked). That's not enough to make a good book though. Plus, as a doctor, some of the medical info in this is highly suspect. The c-section scene without anaesthesia was laughable.

And finally we come to the ending. Which is pretty much all it is. The book ends. Though some form of masterplan is revealed, it's really only the blueprint of that plan. Super-smart people will cure the world. How precisely? Well, we're not let onto that information, we're just lead to believe they will. It was unsatisfying, making the whole book seem redundant. James says that he struggled with this book for many years despite lots of research and I think it clearly shows.

The concept would probably have been better handled and expanded by a sci-fi author. We're not given much to think about in terms of nature/nurture, the ethics of genetically altering your children or the social difficulties, other than it's probably not a good idea. That's a shame.

The writing itself is fine but that's about it and I couldn't recommend this unless you're a big Peter James fan.

Edit: something that I just remembered - the mother sits down to read the Daily Mail. I cannot possibly see how someone who would genetically engineer their own child would choose to read the Daily Mail. Seriously, a suspension of belief too far.
Profile Image for Best Crime Books & More.
1,071 reviews166 followers
June 19, 2012
I hold my hands up; I am a true Peter James fan and in particular am partial to a bit of Roy Grace! For those not aware of Mr James or indeed my lovely hero Mr Grace, start paying attention! Peter James has been writing for many years and his most recent and very popular series of books features Superintendant Roy Grace. Although many of Peters fans, myself included) may prefer the Grace novels, Peter James has been writing stand alone novels since the very early eighties. His latest release entitles Perfect People is quite possibly the perfect book?!? I shock myself with that statement, but I seriously feel that this book is quite possibly one of the best I have read in a very long time.

When I read the back of the book, and realised that the story dealt with a couple who would follow the path of genetically modifying their child, I worried. What was Peter James thinking? Why on earth would a brilliant author like him want to write about such a controversial subject that could possibly go belly up? Well, having finished the book I can tell you there must have been blood, sweat and tears from him to produce such a fine book, clearly he worked hard to achieve the perfect balance and it resulted in just that!

The book is as usual a good example of how skilled Peter James is as a writer and within the first few chapters I was completely absorbed. The two main characters were a couple; John and Naomi, and all they want is a child that will not be born with the same disease their last little boy had died from. Having lost their little boy, this normal couple decide to put their faith into the hands of geneticist Dr Leo Dettore. Right from the beginning I couldn't stand Dr Dettore but as the story progresses and you see the couple follow the procedures to choose what they do and don't want their future child to have, you can understand with how badly they want this. I could even understand how they put Dr Dettore's scientific brilliance before his less than appealing personality.

I was slightly concerned that I would be baffled with too much of the science side of things but thankfully, everything you read and the way it was written made it easy by anybody's standards to understand the basics. The story itself picks up pace as major events happen in the first quarter of the book. I worried we had seen too much too soon, until you realise that the main event is lurking around the corner. I shocked myself at just how badly I had to keep reading this. Each time I think things are settling, something else shocks me and once again I feel that I just can't put it down.

Before I started reading, I was very specific about my feelings on messing with genetics, and I can truly say that by the end of the book it made me re-think my opinions. The subject matter is certainly different, but the issue itself is dealt and in such a way that you empathise with the people making the decisions and the eventual outcome. It is very difficult for me to expand on this review as should I do that certain spoilers will ruin it for people.

What I will say is that the only reason I actually brought this was because I am a Roy Grace fan. Had the book been written by somebody else, I may have given it a wide berth. I am extremely glad that I didn't do that as this book opened my eyes. The writing was brilliant, the tension high and the underlying `horrible feeling' I had didn't leave me all through the book. I think for me one of the main underlying thoughts I had all through the books is that one day, this could actually happen. What would I do if I was in their shoes? Decisions that I previously thought would be easy to make, have now left me feeling like I didn't have the first clue.

I can honestly say that this book truly took me by surprise. Touching on subjects that I had no interest or real in depth knowledge of yet had me staying up way past my bed time as I had to finish. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to go and buy this book, no matter what you think of the synopsis. This is normally not the sort of book that I would read, but am truly grateful I did. HIGHLY recommended.
Profile Image for Ken.
2,134 reviews1,316 followers
June 2, 2019
I recall reading this whilst on holiday in Croatia, having already finished all the books I’d taken with me I had a look in the hotel library.
Being a big fan of James long running Roy Grace series, this title jumped out from the bookcase...

It has such an interesting premise as tackles the subject of designer babies. With John and Naomi Klaesson four-year-old son dies from a genetic disease, the couple realise that any possible future child will also suffer the same fate.
They learn of geneticist Doctor Leo Dettore clinic who claims he can solve any potential heartache with another child, surly their can’t be a catch...

This was definitely an thought provoking idea for a story and raised the important issue of parents just wanting the best for their child.
The only criticism would be the bloated subplot involving crazy religious groups was unnecessary.

I still think James best work involves regular series characters that the reader can grow to love, but this was an enjoyable departure.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,527 reviews787 followers
June 1, 2022
From the creator of Roy Grace a pretty impressive and well researched (and kindly signed!) look at the world of rogue, but supposedly well intention-ed eugenics mainly from the view of the potential host's parents. Good read. 7 out of 12.

2016 read
1 review6 followers
August 22, 2012
Not having read any of this author’s other novels, I didn’t know what to expect however I found the plot disappointing, the characters implausible - principally the unlikely, naive couple paying almost ½ million pounds for a ‘designer’ baby, because their firstborn son dies from an appalling but wholly imaginary disease (there are already many hideous fatal conditions, so why invent one?), who then continue to lumber through the story making one moronic decision after another. Amazing considering the husband is himself a scientist, driven on by his stupid “I-just-want-my-babies-back” wife. Nor did I have any time for the suave and devious geneticist doctor, (well, he was obviously going to be a villain - what a surprise) and the far-fetched subterfuge surrounding his secret SPECTRE-type fantasy hideaway.

As for the pick-your-own-genes babies - well, can I accept that this mad Frankenstein-alike was conducting all his research and experiments on a ship and no-one knew? Yet dozens of scientists he claims supported and applauded his activity because they were afraid of religious extremism threatening science? Too facile, sorry.

The style of writing is bland and banale, the frequent time jumps irritating and unsatisfactory and, although things picked up two-thirds of the way through, the ending seemed rushed and the justification for the evil Doctor’s extreme objectives over-simplistic and unexplored. The author tries a twist at the end but it was predictable, given the accelerated development of the so-called ‘perfect’ children.

What is this book? A thriller? A sci-fi? Or a protest statement about GM and eugenics? For me this easy-read didn’t satisfy on any of these counts. So it’s one star for the novel but, in Mr James’s favour, I’ve awarded a second star for it’s consistency in expressing the unconditional love parents demonstrate for the most difficult of children, and his raising awareness of the irksome matter of genetic meddling (which should concern all of us) and bringing it to the attention of a wider audience.
1 review1 follower
August 16, 2012
I had high hopes for this book as the topic of genetic engineering and the issues surrounding it really interests me, and reviews all seemed pretty positive. I also really enjoyed the movie Gattaca which is on a similar theme.

However, just a couple of chapters in I couldn't believe how naive the two main characters were, and they seemed to be making stupid decision after stupid decision. This continued throughout the book and really affected my enjoyment of the story but I pushed on, partly because I hate putting a book down midway but I was also curious as to how it would all play out.

Things started to get interesting about 75% of the way through, but the turn of events was just too far-fetched, and too many questions were left unanswered. There was a lot of potential that was left unexplored, and the whole reason behind any of the events ever happening in the first place was explained in just a couple of pages.

Overall it was disappointing, predictable, even irritating in some parts, and has put me off trying any of Peter James' other books.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,548 reviews2,934 followers
October 11, 2017
I picked up this book purely based on it having been long-listed for the WellcomeBookPrize and I am very glad I did actually because I ended up really enjoying it, even though it definitely has its flaws. I've never read anything else by this author, and from what I understand he's mostly a crime-thriller writer, but this book has more of a pure thriller and action vibe to it. The whole way through the story was pretty intense and there was a lot of very interesting research involved to make it quite a unique read. I found I really enjoyed it.

The story follows John and Naomi, a young couple who comprise of a Swede and a Brit who have married, had a child and then lost that child. They are both carriers of a rare gene which gives a horrible and tragic illness to their first son, so they grieve his loss deeply when it comes. In the end, they decide they want more children, but they don't want to have to watch them suffer too so they seek out the help of a geneticist who is working on cutting edge gene-alterations and 'designer babies' to see if he can eradicate the gene for the illness from their next child. Little do the couple know, this scientist may well have his own aims...

What I loved about this story is the huge amounts of research surrounding the 'designer babies' themselves. This was immediately obvious and super fascinating as it's a topic I haven't looked into much prior to this, but I really am curious now... Pheobe and Luke end up becoming some of the real stars of the entire book. They are just wonderful curiosities, and clever doesn't begin to describe them. They have built in qualities to make them succeed in life. They have the genetic advantage, but it doesn't ever quite go to plan and quickly their parents are unsure how to really deal with them.

One other element of this story is the crime/terrorism group that crops up fairly early into the story, This was a needless waste of time in my opinion and was purely there to add drama, because all the major events of the book could still have been met without including chaotic, sometimes a bit ridiculous, plots and sub-plots. I definitely think this could have been cut, so this is the major reason why this book isn't getting a higher rating despite just how much I really enjoyed it.

Overall, a solid read and, without the niggle of the cult plotline, it was great. I very much enjoyed it, and read it quickly over just two days, so I would say it's very fun read with some quality moments of science also included (though I am sure things have rapidly moved on from a few years ago when this was written now!). I gave it a strong 3.75*s and had it just cut the over-exaggerated drama storyline then I would have loved it :) Still recommended :)
Profile Image for Sarah.
2,574 reviews164 followers
March 26, 2016
I have read a couple of books by this author which I absolutely loved, so was very much looking forward to reading this one

To start with I have to admit I did find it a bit slow going but once I started getting into it, I was well and truly gripped.

As a parent I could fully empathise with John and Naomi. To lose a child has got to be one of the worst things in life possible. So to get the chance to have another baby that can be guaranteed to have none of the illnesses that can be passed on in the genes from the parents, well who wouldn't take it?

The author has created a story that is extremely thought provoking. Scientists have come so far and designer babies is something that is probably very possible if not already. I certainly don't agree with people playing god and dictating what a human being is going to be like but the thought of also putting a stop to illnesses that leave devastation in its trail is a very positive part of it.

Having a child should be some of the happiest times in a parents lives, but for one, John and Naomi are still trying to recover from the fact that even though they only wanted one child they have twins, also they have to get used to the fact that Phoebe and Luke are unlike any other child of their age.

Perfect People after the slow start is one that literally had me on my seat. Not only does John and Naomi have to learn to cope with being parents to two highly intelligent twins, they are also living in fear as there are people out there who are very much against what they have done.

This is one story that I won't forget in a hurry. It would also make a brilliant film. John and Naomi's story is one that will really pull on your heart strings and I found it quite an emotional read towards the end.
Profile Image for Ivy.
957 reviews51 followers
August 10, 2018
Sehr unheimlich...
Das Buch macht auf jeden Fall nachdenklich.

Der Anfang ist wirklich gut und die unheimliche Spannung kommt schleichend. Die Story entwickelt sich ganz anders als ich erwartet hatte und obwohl ich mit Science Fiction nicht viel anfangen kann, fand ich den Aspekt hier total spannend.
Der Gedanke, Krankheiten ausschließen zu können wäre noch nachvollziehbar aber bei äußerlichen Merkmalen und Charakterzügen wird das mit den Designer Babys ziemlich krank.

Naomi und John waren mir beide nicht sympathisch aber mit dem Verlauf der Geschichte habe ich mit den beiden gelitten.

Das Ende ist dann aber over the top. Mir ist das dann ein wenig zu viel. Zu viele Ideen, zu viel Neues und Abgedrehtes kommt dazu und es wird dem interessanten Thema nicht gerecht. Da hätte man meiner Meinung nach viel mehr draus machen können

3,5 Sterne aber sehr lesenswert
Profile Image for Hannah Cassie.
396 reviews144 followers
February 18, 2017

Amazing. Brilliant. Breath taking!

It is my favorite book of adult fiction, it has everything I have ever asked of the story. Plus, as a geneticist myself and believer in transhumanism this is just a must read and must love and ah I am just going to take it into my bed instead of a teddy bear!
Profile Image for Neringa Gal.
153 reviews10 followers
November 9, 2022
truouti is fantastikos sferos bet kas zino kas bus po dar 30metu.pirma peter james knyga.ir galiu pasakyti tai geriausia ka skaiciau siais metais.beveik 500psl bet nei istempta nei bele tik rasyt.buvo neimanoma atsitraukti.rimtai🫶🫶🫣🫣🙊🙈🙉
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,692 reviews14.1k followers
September 30, 2013
Perfect People Alternately chilling and heartbreaking, James portrays couples who will do anything to have a child. In this book it is a genetic disease and the loss of the child due to that disease that send Jack and Naomi to a renowned geneticist that is said to perform near miracles. Anything, of course, that can be used to help people can also be taken the other way and used to enrich and pervert the very person who is supposed to be helping the situation. People who swear they are not in it for the money or the power, they just want to help those poor unfortunate souls that come to them.
Good, suspenseful, characters that one can root for and characters that one can hate, definitely worth a read.
ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Joanne Sheppard.
440 reviews40 followers
October 6, 2014
Peter James is an impressively prolific bestselling thriller writer, of whose books I had before now read precisely none. I picked up Perfect People at a low-price book sale along with various other thrillers this summer because I was keen to know what Peter James does that sells so well, and because I was interested in the subject matter: a couple who agrees to have a genetically engineered son to avoid losing another child to the hereditary disease that killed their first baby, Halley, at the age of four.

Perfect People brings to mind of those high-concept, borderline sci-fi thrillers that were popular in the 1970s – think Ira Levin’s The Boys From Brazil or The Stepford Wives. As such, despite its contemporary themes of ‘designer babies’ and elements involving a religious fundamentalist terrorist organisation, there is something about it that feels oddly dated. This isn’t helped by the slightly Bond-villainish character of Dr Dettore, the geneticist who convinces John and Naomi Klaesson to agree to have a child with favourably tweaked genes. To avoid having to conform to US or European law, his clinic is located at sea on board a mysterious cruise liner, and there are chapters set on a mysterious island that can’t be located on a map. For the duration of the book, I rather felt as if I was reading a novelisation of a film, and not a recent one at that.

Perfect People's plot certainly does make you want to plough on quickly to end, despite the enormous suspension of disbelief required. I did keep turning the pages, despite my misgivings about elements of the story and frequent irritation at the writing style (heavy on the telling, light on the showing, and peppered with mundane exposition).

I don’t, however, think the story that will stay with me, and I felt none of the chills or unease that the ‘perfect people’ of the title should have conjured up. John and Naomi’s designer children (apologies if you consider this a spoiler, but the fact that there are two of them is already annoyingly revealed by the book’s own cover art) are obviously not like other toddlers, but their 'otherness' is all cliché: the idea of the cold, insular, unnaturally academic, freakishly beautiful and potentially psychic blonde child is a familiar one from The Bad Seed or The Midwich Cuckoos. They may be called ‘New People’ in certain quarters, but there’s nothing really new about them from the reader’s point of view.

Moreover, the relationship between parent and child here is infuriatingly inconsistent – neither parent is really shown to bond with their children as such, and Naomi in particular behaves as if she actively dislikes or even fears them, but suddenly when required for the purposes of the plot, they suddenly begin to behave completely differently towards them. I fully understand that the parent-child relationship is a complex one, but I don’t find the sudden turnaround in Naomi’s maternal instincts particularly credible. Other inconsistencies include the claim that the ‘new people’ abhor violence, which seems deeply out-of-kilter with the children’s ability to butcher their own pets or inspire outright terror in the other toddlers at their playgroup.

A bit of a wasted opportunity, this one. Plenty of potential, but just felt careless in the execution, as if the author was taking a paint-by-numbers approach to fiction.
Profile Image for Loreta Griciutė .
209 reviews4 followers
December 29, 2022
"Kai prieš dešimt metų pradėjau rūpestingai rinkti medžiagą šiai knygai, žmonės man kalbėjo, kad ''modifikuoti kūdikiai'' galimi tik mokslinėje fantastikoje. Jau nebe... Prieš dešimtmetį žymiausieji genetikai man iš tiesų kalbėjo, jog tėvai netolimoje ateityje galės parinkti savo vaikams empatijos lygį. Ar jie tikrai norės švelnaus, mielo naujagimio, kurį gyvenime kiti sumindžios? O gal pageidaus ryžtingo ir atkaklaus vaikelio, kuris, galimas dalykas, užaugęs bus sociopatas? Tačiau mums tai nelabai įmanoma. O vis dėlto toji ateitis jau beveik čia pat. " P. James

"... Jūs parinkote mums atitinkamus genus, nes norėjote, kad būtume geresni už kitus vaikus. Norėjote, kad mes taptume tobulais žmonėmis. Bet jums būtų ne pro šalį suvokti mūsų gyvenimo principus".
"Pasaulis nėra labai geras. Turi įvykti daug permainų, o egzistuojančias problemas reikia spręsti vadovaujantis visiškai nauja mąstysena, turi būti sukurta nauja ateities pasaulio vizija, nes priešingu atveju žmonija neturės ateities".
"Esame rūšis žmonių, kuri tikisi aplenkti šviesą ir daryti daug kitų dalykų, kurių mūsų protėviai negalėjo nė įsivaizduoti, bet neišmokome, kaip įveikti neapykantą savo širdyse, mes esame rūšis, kurios atstovai savo problemas sprendžia tik mėtydamiesi akmenimis.
Vaikystėje mums aiškina, kad mūsų tėvai yra teisūs, kad privalome mokytis iš jų, o vėliau perduodame šiuos niekus savo vaikams. Pasaulis jau nebe toks, koks buvo anksčiau. Nė vienas nežino, kas mūsų laukia ateityje. Galbūt išprotėtume, jei žinotume. Nuo to mes gelbstimės svajodami. O svajones mes saugome savo širdyse".

P. S. Nurovė stogą konkrečiai!!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Colin Andrews.
Author 6 books3 followers
February 19, 2012
One of the most thought-provoking thrillers I've read. Scary too, not so much in the blood and gore sense, but the in the implications of genetic engineering of the human species to a level far beyond what eugenics in the conventional sense might ever achieve. When the book was first started, designer babies were still a subject for science fiction, but judging by scientific advances made over the past 10 years this fiction could so easily become fact. There is no reason to believe that violent conflict between science and fanatical religious beliefs will be any a less of a threat in the future as it has been in the past.

For the most part I found the actions and emotions of the couple grieving the loss of their first child through a genetic disorder quite believable, likewise their difficulties in coming to terms with the consequences of their decision to conceive the perfect child. The story takes some surprising twists and the end is really chilling. The description of the secret facility for the genetically engineered children struck the only really far-fetched note - something more fitting to a James Bond movie.
Profile Image for Elaine Browne.
166 reviews7 followers
October 26, 2015
This is very different from what I normally read.
It's very science fiction and I normally detest that genre of literature but this is extremely well written.
The characters of John and Naomi are extremely realistic , they are flawed humans who long for intelligent children.
The whole plot of designer babies brings up a fascinating subject and is dealt with fabulously in this book.
Luke and phoebe are monsters and they contribute greatly to the ambitious story line of where science will eventually end up leading the human race.
A fascinating read
Profile Image for Indieflower.
319 reviews92 followers
June 23, 2019
Absolute nonsense, it reminded me of a really bad 70s movie. It was quite intriguing at first then became more and more ludicrous, the behaviour of the parents was so inconsistent, one minute fearful of the children, the next behaving as if everything is normal. And that ending? Daft is the word, I couldn't believe what I was reading. I'm giving 2 stars as I found it weirdly compelling.
Profile Image for Karen Barber.
2,476 reviews59 followers
April 2, 2019
Potentially interesting idea, but so far off in terms of characters/plot it’s hard to know what to say.
A well-off and educated couple, reeling from the heartache of losing a child to a rare genetic condition, spend a fortune to pay a maverick scientist to genetically engineer their child. Renowned for his forward thinking, the Doctor offers enhancements. Like Frankenstein, this offers up a possible action but stretches it to incredible levels.
The couple learn they’re having twins, and as the children grow their enhanced abilities are evident. While some areas could be beneficial, showing these kids to be so beyond what we can imagine turns it into a freakish horror show.
There’s so many things going on that it went from being a potentially interesting exploration of views to an over-the-top grotesque and bizarre read.
Profile Image for Louise.
2,386 reviews43 followers
September 2, 2012
not the usualsort of thing from James, but he pulled off a different style of writing very well.

taking something that is becoming less like science fiction everyday, and giving it a twist like this was clever.

No matter how good the intentions were of the parents, you have to wonder should they have tinkered with mother nature for their designer babies, and were the people they were left with just payback???
Profile Image for smrdasale.
36 reviews
May 17, 2021
the book was okay, I didn’t understand the poor reviews until I read the last ten pages. The ending of that whole story feels like when a student reaches his word count on an essay and just gives up or gives a quick conclusion not explaining anything. Excluding the ending, the book really kept my attention well and had some interesting facts from various science fields. I just wish there was more detail at the ending, maybe what genes did Leo manipulate for the twins.
Profile Image for Gary.
2,590 reviews362 followers
August 12, 2015
A stand alone novel from one of my favourite authors Peter James.
I really enjoyed this novel that differs from his usual Roy Grace stories. This thought provoking book kept me wanting more and I got so hooked by it that I finished it within 24 hours.
Profile Image for Karen.
995 reviews20 followers
December 13, 2015
My first Peter James book and I really enjoyed it.
Even though none of the characters were particularly likeable, the subject matter and plot was enough to keep me reading.
It's a bit scary because eventually it could be true
Profile Image for Veerle.
83 reviews2 followers
December 10, 2012

Wat een onverwacht einde zeg!
Net geen vier sterren omdat ik een bepaald gedeelte iets te langdradig vond maar verder een meer dan prima boek!
Profile Image for Milan.
Author 10 books99 followers
February 25, 2016
Savršeno dosadna i neoriginalna knjiga.
Profile Image for Nele.
463 reviews31 followers
December 3, 2018
"Be careful what you wish for"

Think about it: if you start messing with DNA and genes, what would happen?
Which genes would you alter?

I understand where John and Naomi were coming from. If you know you're both carrying a gene for a horrible disease, would you make the decision to have that gene altered? It's a small step to say 'yes'. Just that one gene. It kinda makes sense, right?
But what if you fall into the hands of a crazy scientist who doesn't just want to alter that gene, but a whole set of them, creating a superior human, and you didn't know which genes are being altered and what the outcome is on your child.

I was very intrigued by the idea, and I wish that there was more background into the thought process of Dr Dettore. Which genes did he in fact alter without the parents knowing? And what was the outcome?
We only get a glimpse into that.
Anyway, creepy kids were created. Super smart, but creepy. Not affectionate towards their parents at all.
My conclusion is: I'd like my kids to be sweet and kind, compassionate. They don't have to be super smart, as long as they are kind and human.
Please don't mess with genes and mother nature.
Also: drink less!
Profile Image for Brian G.
369 reviews16 followers
October 23, 2020
A thought provoking thriller.
A couple decide to make a designer baby but discover that it brings more problems.
A tense, creepy thriller with lots of predictable tropes but enjoyable, with a great twist.
5 stars
Profile Image for Bethany.
44 reviews5 followers
May 9, 2021
I enjoyed this book! An easy but exciting read
Profile Image for Mira Margitta.
335 reviews9 followers
January 6, 2020
Žao mi je što je vrlo mali broj prevedenih knjiga Pitera Jamesa.Piše odlične trilere.
Profile Image for Marie.
262 reviews34 followers
November 8, 2012
Perfect People is a thriller with a sci-fi twist that delves into the shady world of eugenics. John and Naomi Klaesson are a couple who have been left heartbroken by the death of their son by a horrible hereditary disease. Desperate to have another child, but wanting to be sure the same fate will not befall them again, they hand over their life savings and their bodies to the infamous Dr Dettore and his shady offshore genetics clinic. He promises that he can make their dreams come true and when Naomi falls pregnant it seems like their wish for a perfect family life is about to become a reality. But has Dr Dettore got something to hide? (yes) (I hope that isn't too much of a spoiler) The Klaessons must contend not only with the stresses of pregnancy but also with the general public who consider what they have done to be an abomination, that they are meddling with Mother Nature.

To begin with, I didn't enjoy James' prose at all. I have never read any of his Roy Grace novels, and I gather that this represents quite a departure from his usual writing style. On the whole it isn't that bad but some of his turns of phrase really made me cringe:

'Naomi was awake; John could hear the faint crunching sound of her eyelashes as she blinked'

...what? I have just sat here at my laptop for 30 seconds, furiously blinking away, and can firmly state that eyelashes (mine, anyway) are entirely silent. What a bizarre sentence. I also found myself squirming at the one sex scene in the novel, which is really dreadful.

I found Naomi and John to be generally unlikeable protagonists. They throw themselves into Dettore's clinic with almost unbelievable naivety, particularly given the fact that John is supposed to be a scientist with a background in biology. Initially this made me feel sympathetic towards them, but as the story progressed it got on my nerves. John in particular makes a couple of terrible decisions that put me off him as a character quite early on in the book. And setting aside the difficulties they face with their children, I found their attitude as parents to be quite questionable at times. The more I reflect on this book, the more I am starting to consider the fact that maybe the reader is supposed to see them as very flawed human beings. I'm still not sure though, and the fact that I couldn't engage with either of them certainly affected my enjoyment of the book.

I believe that Peter James spent 10 long years researching and writing this novel but I have to be honest and say I don't think it really shows. It's not that he has included lots of false information or poorly-explained facts, he hasn't. It's more that there just isn't that much science included in the book. And to borrow from the Wellcome Trust Book Prize blog: "The science in the novel is very much fiction". For example, in the acknowledgements at the end of my copy he thanks a certain professor for providing him with material on 'Genetic dissection of neural circuits controlling emotional behaviours', and I can't identify where in the book this type of technical information has been used. Maybe it is unfair of me to talk about this in my review as it isn't detrimental to the novel at all - maybe the opposite, as there's nothing I hate more that when authors try to tackle scientific/medical topics head on and fail miserably. I would much rather they gloss over the details or avoid going into too much depth. It was just a point that interested me when I read the author's acknowledgements at the end.

From an ethical point of view, though, the book gave me lots to think about. The morals of genetic engineering, for both medical and aesthetic reasons, could be debated all day. It's also interesting to ponder the mindset of the Christian sects who are dead against genetic engineering of the embryo but at the same time urge the Klaessons to opt for an abortion or even plot acts of violence against them. At the moment this is a topic that makes for exciting fiction but who knows what might be possible in the future? So even though my overall impression of Perfect People was not great and it kind of annoyed me, I am glad to have read it.
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