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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Baby X by Kira Peikoff

Baby X explores the complex issues around an imagined future with genetically chosen embryos; Peikoff also digs into origin stories and sense of identity, duty, trust, and vulnerability in the various storylines of this intriguing book.

In an imagined United States of the near future, any cell can be transformed into an egg or sperm. The process of creating embryos has been revolutionized, and parents can use Selection to analyze and choose an embryo based upon certain traits they desire in their offspring.

But anyone with nefarious intent can theoretically create an embryo with the DNA of anyone with whom they've come into contact and obtained cells from. This means that sought-after DNA specimen sources such as celebrities are in potential danger of having their DNA stolen while going about their daily lives--and ultimately having biological children that they're unaware of.

Ember is a scientist who offers her services to protect high-profile clients from DNA theft. She knows all of the tricks of The Vault, an underground, subversive group that has doled out justice to prominent figures by stealing DNA and revealing factors about their genes, predispositions, or origins. She's falling for her famous client, the musician Trace Thorne--but when a woman shows up claiming to be carrying Thorne's baby, it upends more than just Ember and Thorne's lives.

Quinn is a selfless repeat surrogate who helps couples build their families. Her new friend and widow Robert enlists her help with carrying the embryo he and his husband had created before Evan's death, and Robert treats her to the perks of his lavish lifestyle. But Quinn is starting to think Robert is keeping secrets--and that he may be dangerous.

Young adult Lily is an aspiring journalist who in her personal life is trying to come to terms with the fact that her father and her mother, who Lily feels are well beyond the age where they should be conceiving a child, are preparing to Select an embryo. Lily herself was not Selected, and she has always felt embarrassed about her freewheeling origins. Then tracking down the details of a promising story lead her straight to some shocking truths about her parents and her origins.

I was happily intrigued by how all of the pieces of this story fit together, and the revelations that came late in the book kept me hooked. Meanwhile Baby X explored interesting, complex, sometimes moral and ethical issues, including those around choosing qualities in a baby, balancing various dangers and promising traits. Peikoff also touches on the importance of origin stories and identity, and her characters fight to trust, to show vulnerability, and to do the right--sometimes difficult--thing.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Kira Peikoff is also the author of No Time to Die, Living Proof, Die Again Tomorrow, and Mother Knows Best.


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