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Genetic engineering

Perfect people (Book review)

‘Perfect people’, by Peter James. Publisher: London: Pan MacMillan; 2012. Pp 460. Price £18.99. ISBN 9780230760523.

/files/rps-pjonline/perfect-people-978144720316201

The Wellcome Trust Book Prize was established to celebrate medicine in literature. The shortlist provides an eclectic mix of medical fact and fiction that pharmacists may find appealing. ‘Perfect people’ was one of the novels shortlisted for the 2012 book awards. Peter James (best known for his crime novels) addresses the concept of genetic engineering and designer babies.

A couple, grieving the death of their son from a rare genetic disorder, seek help from a radical geneticist to ensure they conceive a healthy child. Beyond simply ensuring their next child is healthy, they are faced with a “checklist” of genetic attributes and a decision: how far will they go to ensure their child has the all the benefits genetic manipulation can offer him?

Medical and religious ethics are balanced with potential health and social benefits (or otherwise) of scientific progress. This book strays into standard thriller territory at times, but remains a well paced, well written and scientifically plausible read. James addresses the science of what is, and what may soon be, possible. The reader is left debating the morality of “designing babies” and speculating what the future of science and medicine may bring.

Emma McConnell is a pharmacist and an associate medical writer with a communications agency 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11115980

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