An unthinkable decision
A deadly mistake
In an all-too-possible near future, when genetic engineering has become the norm for humans, not just crops, parents are prepared to take incalculable risks to ensure that their babies are perfect … altering genes that may cause illness, and more…
Susan has been trying for a baby for years, and when an impulsive one-night stand makes her dream come true, she’ll do anything to keep her daughter and ensure her husband doesn’t find out … including the unthinkable. She believes her secret is safe. For now.
But as governments embark on a perilous genetic arms race and children around the globe start experiencing a host of distressing symptoms – even taking their own lives – something truly horrendous is unleashed. Because those children have only one thing in common, and people are starting to ask questions…
Bestselling author of The Waiting Rooms, Eve Smith returns with an authentic, startlingly thought-provoking, disturbing blockbuster of a thriller that provides a chilling glimpse of a future that’s just one modification away…
The majority of the female population wants children, for some its hard, for others it comes with the added risk of inherited familial illnesses, whilst for the majority its easy and straightforward. Advances in medical technology such as IVF has brought joy to millions of women, but what if that technology was taken to the extreme, diseases, conditions ‘edited’ out? If you want to find out then this is the book for you as Smith looked to that future, took a family and literally changed their lives forever.
You were never quite sure how far in advance Smith had taken us, and I was pleased that the norms of present day still existed with the usual technological wizardry thrown in without overwhelming the narrative.
We met Susan, her husband Steve, their marriage teetered on the brink, the longed for baby further and further away until a drunken one night stand and Susan was pregnant. This is where the book really took off as Smith showed a Susan in utter turmoil, her dream a reality, just the small issue of it being the wrong father. Enter Camilla, the person everyone needs in a crisis, ultra practical, connections in high places with the answer to Susan’s problems. Next stop a clinic in Ukraine, the genes of her fetus ‘edited’, secrets hidden for another day. This was when Smith made me question what I would do, made me think of the morals and ethics, of a scientific community that could effectively brush away the imperfections. The newspaper articles interspersed within the narrative were an inspired choice, the backlash from protest groups, religion all played a part.
Yet for all that what stood out more than anything and what Smith did so superbly was the human fallout years later, her daughter Zurel on the cusp of womanhood with mental issues a possible indicator of her gene edits, Steve still oblivious. The backlash against the supposed tinkering of human genetics gathered pace, religion used to shield terrorists, protests at clinics and finally the roosters came home to roost, Susan the evil woman who wrecked their family.
Smith’s decision to use Zurel’s own voice was a master stroke, her emotions in tatters, her life a lie, the future an unknown. You felt her confusion, her anger, her bewilderment, but also conflicting emotions towards Susan who did what she did out of desperation but also in a strange way, love.
Did I agree, did i even like Susan? Yes, to both and indeed it was Steve whom I disliked, my assumptions as to his own hidden secrets proved correct as the novel careered toward a turbulent ending.
Off Target definitely hit the mark, thought provoking and relevant with a cast of characters that perfectly reflected a world we appear to be hurtling towards at a rapid pace. Smith’s novel may be deemed ‘speculative’ but for me that speculation could well become a reality and one I hope we approach with care and control.
I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Off Target to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Eve Smith writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. She attributes her love of all things dark and dystopian to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues.
Set twenty years after an antibiotic crisis,her debut novel The Waiting Rooms was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award. Her flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize.
Eve’s previous job as COO of an environmental charity took her to research projects across Asia, Africa and the Americas, and she has an ongoing passion for wild creatures, wild science and far-flung places. A Modern Languages graduate from Oxford, she returned to Oxfordshire fifteen years ago to set up home with her husband.
When she’s not writing she’s romping across fields after her dog, trying to organise herself and her family or off exploring somewhere new.
Follow Eve on Twitter: @evecsmith