Carolyn's Reviews > Fauna

Fauna by Donna Mazza
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2020, gift-from-publisher, australian-author, family, futuristic

This is an original and intriguing debut novel that would be an excellent choice for book clubs. There is so much to explore in this book and I had so many thoughts and questions after reading it that I'd love to discuss with fellow readers. I have a feeling it's going to be very provocative and controversial.

Set in the near future, scientists have started to use genetic technology to bring back extinct animals, such as the woolly mammoth and Tasmanian tiger, and now they have gone one step further and have started secret medical trials involving human gene editing. Stacey and Isak have enrolled in one such program to conceive and bring up a child that will be very different, but one that is expected to be important for survival of the human race. They already have two healthy children but recently lost an unborn baby, so Stacey is looking forward to another pregnancy and child as well as the financial incentive the trial will pay will help to make their lives a lot easier.

When the baby is born, she does look a little different to their other children but Stacey and Isak both bond strongly with her and would do anything to protect her. However, Stacey soon finds that their new child affects the way she is able to interact with the outside world and her ability to be the sort of mother she wants to be for her other children. Although Stacey felt a strong love for her new child, I felt very sorry for her in the way she was forced to constrain her choices for the way she now has to live her life and also the knowledge that the child will one day be taken from them.

So much of this seems unethical it is hard to imagine that such a situation could happen. Or could it? I'd like to think that we have sufficient regulations around the use of genetic technology to prevent it, but experimentation on animals is already allowed to test whether a human genetic condition can be corrected, so who is to say where the line will be drawn in the future, especially if the definition of human becomes blurred? Already scientists are able to genetically alter a patient's immune cells to add a protein that will recognise and fight their tumour (CAR-T cells) and a Chinese scientist has recently been jailed for using gene editing technology in human embryos resulting in three live births (see https://www.nature.com/articles/d4158...). This is definitely a thought provoking book, with its horrifying vision of the future, as well as a compassionate look at one family and their love for their special child.

With many thanks to Allen & Unwin for an ARC to read
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Reading Progress

January 5, 2020 – Started Reading
January 5, 2020 – Shelved
January 5, 2020 – Shelved as: 2020
January 5, 2020 – Shelved as: gift-from-publisher
January 5, 2020 – Shelved as: australian-author
January 8, 2020 – Finished Reading
January 9, 2020 – Shelved as: family
January 9, 2020 – Shelved as: futuristic

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