Perfect People begins on a perfectly creepy note. John and Naomi are transported by helicopter to a boat moored outside American waters, in the middlePerfect People begins on a perfectly creepy note. John and Naomi are transported by helicopter to a boat moored outside American waters, in the middle of the night. They see no one other than the staff, even though the boat supposedly carries quite a few passengers who have paid a tonne of money to use the services of geneticist Dr Dettore. Now, for anyone that wasn't consumed by grief and a desperation for a child, this would be too freaky for words, but John and Naomi are both - and they choose to undergo fertility treatment under the care of Dr Dettore.
The plot is pretty much an examination of morals - John and Naomi lost their young son to a genetic disease, and although they are desperate for a child, they don't want to risk having another ill child. There are so many debates that I'm not touching with a ten foot pole, but in some ways I do find their logic understandable, even if I didn't completely agree.
Along with the narrative, the book is sprinkled with diary entries made by Naomi - and I was really conflicted whether I liked those entries or not - at times they made me feel quite sympathetic towards her, at others they made me actually dislike her. Overall I actually found both Naomi and John difficult to like and sympathise with, even though there were parts of the story where I felt incredibly sad for both of them.
A lot of the first part of the book is Naomi and John struggling with the decisions they make, which is interesting in a way, but didn't really grab my attention. I was almost desperately reading to see what would happen when Naomi gave birth, and at first I was on tenterhooks....and then a little bored....and then a little ambivalent....and when 'something' finally happened it was creepy but not - evil.
What I really didn't like about Perfect People was the final part of the book - for me it was completely unnecessary and not particularly well thought-out. Perhaps my expectations led to bigger disappointment than if I had gone into this one blind, but it just felt all wrong.
However, I did like how it ended - although there wasn't really much of an alternative, nor did it surprise me in the least. Overall, Perfect People had a lot of great ideas, a lot of potential, but was lacking in execution....more
Several years ago I added Mockingbird to my ever-growing wishlist, and when I was looking to splurge on Amazon earlier this year, I decided to purchasSeveral years ago I added Mockingbird to my ever-growing wishlist, and when I was looking to splurge on Amazon earlier this year, I decided to purchase a copy. When I realised it was tagged as 'literary sci-fi', my heart sank a little - would I really enjoy this book?
Mockingbird is set in the late 25th century, and boy things have changed - humanity is now kicking back, smoking dope, taking pills and committing suicide by getting high and setting fire to themselves in public places. Reading is a thing of the past, and in fact is even illegal, as is teaching others to read. Robots of varying levels of intelligence keep things ticking and a robot named Spofford is in control. The human race itself is in danger of extinction as there have been no children born for more than 30 years, but in their drug-induced state, no one seems to have noticed, nor cares.
Traits and behaviors, such as the notion of Privacy have been taken to extremes - it is considered a faux pas to even ask after someone's health, and humans have been taught not to question anything, just to accept the inevitable. When Spofford discovers a young man named Paul Bentley who has taught himself to read, he brings him to NYC, and by chance, Paul meets Mary Lou, who cannot take the drugs that are handed out like candy, and begins to teach her to read.
Mockingbird explores some pretty intense parts of the human psyche - the insinuation being that human beings are naturally lazy and unmotivated, which started a pretty intense debate between myself and my partner - he was unconvinced, whereas I could see it as a possibility, particularly over several generations.
The majority of Mockingbird focuses on Paul, but there are also sections told from the POV of both Mary Lou and Spofford. It's hard to form an attachment to the characters, but they are more the catalyst than the focus of the story itself.
Despite my reluctance towards 'literary sci-fi', Mockingbird far surpassed my expectations, and even with its intensity, I couldn't put it down. The writing style is uncomplicated and it's not overly 'sci-fi-ey', it's far more an exploration of humanity, and what it is that defines us.