Baby X, a review by Joanna

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Baby X

Kira Peikoff

Crooked Lane Books

Published on March 5th, 2024

324 pages


GoodReads | Amazon

Baby X is a new speculative fiction thriller by an author I have quite enjoyed previously, as she explores the more controversial aspects of reproductive medicine in a near-future setting, as in 2019’s Mother Knows Best. Unfortunately this one veered too much into domestic suspense territory for my liking, using many of the tropes and plot devices of that genre.

In 2055, American babies are no longer conceived naturally – instead couples use the latest technology to select an embryo with the most desirable traits – good health, intelligence, a winning personality, which is then implanted. Eggs and sperm can be created out of any genetic material, which has led to a thriving black market in stolen celebrity DNA for the purpose of creating “special” babies. Ember Ryan is a BioGuard – she protects wealthy clients from involuntary parenthood by cleaning up after them, but when she falls in love with a rock star who’s a popular target, the threat posed by a young woman claiming to be carrying his child becomes very personal indeed.

This is told from the POV of three women – cool confident Ember, naive young surrogate Quinn, and bratty wannabe-journalist Lily. It was the latter’s chapters that spoiled this for me – I could not stand her as a character and didn’t agree with her selfish actions at all, which made her hard to read about.

The first half was intriguing, but the twist was completely obvious, and then it all descends into melodrama with a villain whose actions make no sense whatsoever. It’s still an entertaining read if you don’t mind two-dimensional characters and too much exposition – the author has a degree in bioethics and likes to show off her research into the medical technology, much of which seems disturbingly possible. Most of my bookish friends have rated this highly, so I recommend reading a range of reviews before being deterred by my ambivalent 3-stars.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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