Book Review: Deadly Design

Deadly Design
Published By: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Page Count: 368
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Science Fiction

Connor and Kyle are genetically modified twins born two years apart. While Connor was learning to talk and taking his first steps, Kyle was a frozen embryo. His parents had already lost a son before Connor and Kyle were conceived so they were extra cautious with the twins. Unbeknownest to the entire McAdams family, the boys' genetics were tampered with by their fertility physician. Both Connor and Kyle are extremely handsome and possess an intelligence that is far superior to other teens. While Connor appears to relish his golden boy status, he has perfect grades, a perfect girlfriend, and more sports trophies that shelf space, Kyle tends to prefer to remain in the basement playing video games and ignoring the outside world. 

The relationship between Connor and Kyle is a complex one. Connor is constantly making an effort to include Kyle in his life, but Kyle is the stubborn sort and he refuses his brother's attempts. Kyle feels that he can never climb beyond Connor's shadow. Everyone compares the two boys which forces Kyle to become surly and disgruntled. He wants to be an individual and not just the person who shares DNA with the amazing Connor McAdams. In many ways, Kyle is envious of his brother. I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to constantly be compared to a sibling and be found lacking.

Connor and Kyle seem to be on the road to repairing their relationship when tragedy strikes. Connor is found dead in his bed from an apparent heart attack. His death doesn't quite add up since there is no damage to the heart in the autopsy and Connor lived a health nut lifestyle full of healthy foods and exercise. The McAdams family is reeling from the unexpected death and seeking answers about what exactly happened to Connor. This quest leads Kyle down a path of secrets, forbidden technology, and greed. 

The plot in this one kept me on the edge of my seat. As soon as I would think one direction was going to work, Dockter would throw a wrench into the mix. I honestly wasn't sure how things would end up for Kyle. The mystery and thriller elements worked well with the science fiction components to create a compelling and chilling read. The entire novel made me think about the advancements in medical technology. I like to think that science is continuing to progress for the greater good and not for a darker purpose like some of the science in this novel. It does serve as a reminder that progress often comes at a price.

While I enjoyed this one, I did have some trouble getting on board with Kyle. In the beginning, he was whiny and difficult to like. It seemed to be that Kyle was jealous of Connor and craved his brother's life. Instead of leaving behind the video games and trying to mingle with others, he just whines about things and never seeks a solution. As the story unfolds, Kyle evolves and becomes a brave, compassionate guy. He learns to live up to Connor's legacy and take charge of his future.

One of my favorite aspects of the novel was the relationship between Kyle and Cami. Their friendship felt natural and provided some much needed humor. This is a darker tale and the moments of laughter and sweetness provided a hint of hope and possibility. 

Deadly Design is the perfect read if you're looking for a science fiction mystery. The novel raises some interesting questions about medical ethics and medical research. It's just the sort of read to get your brain working and your paranoia flaring. The chilling twists and turns are an antidote to the heat of summer.

One Last Gripe: There were a few moments when the plot seemed implausible. For example, the scene with Virginia seemed too easy.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved piecing together the medical aspects along with Kyle and Cami.

First Sentence: I was five years old when I found out that my older brother wasn't just my brother.

Favorite Character: Cami

Least Favorite Character: Dr. Mueller

Genetically engineered identical twins Kyle and Connor McAdams were born two years apart. Their parents figured it was safer that way, to increase their odds of survival. Connor was born first, paving an impossibly perfect path for Kyle to follow. He was the best at everything—valedictorian, star quarterback etc. Kyle never thought he’d be able to live up, so he didn’t even try.
But when Connor, 18, suddenly drops dead of a heart attack, and Kyle learns of other genetically modified kids who’ve also died on their eighteenth birthdays, he’s suddenly motivated—to save his own life. Like Connor and all the rest, Kyle was conceived at the Genesis Innovations Laboratory, where the mysterious Dr. Mueller conducted experiments on them. The clock’s ticking as Kyle searches for answers: who was Dr. Mueller really, and what did he do to cause their hearts to stop at eighteen? He must unravel the clues quickly, before, he too, becomes another perfect, blue-eyed corpse.

About the Author

Debra Dockter currently teaches behavioral science at Cowley College and resides in Haysville, Kansas with her husband and three children. Deadly Design is her debut novel.

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