The emotional power of If I Stay meets the survival story of Maze Runner
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.
Deadly Design is about a group of teens who have been genetically modified and about one boy’s attempt to save them from the dangers of their own DNA. Two questions readers like to ask is how much research did I do for the novel and what are my thoughts on genetic manipulations.
After doing a lot of research, I can definitely see the pros and cons that come with manipulating genes.
We all know people who suffer from various diseases. Very few people get to die from “natural causes”. Rarely do we hear of people in their advanced years dying in their sleep. Usually there’s a cause, and often those causes are just plain ugly and cruel.
The idea that a gene for some terrible disease like Huntington’s or Alzheimer’s could be removed and replaced with a healthy gene is miraculous. To imagine the suffering that could be eliminated for individuals and their families is amazing and something we’d all be thankful for. Throw in the idea of being able to clone organs and well…people could live with vitality for over a century or maybe even two. Humans could be like cars needing new parts. Uncle Bart’s liver’s giving out, we’ll just grow him a new one. Grandma needs a new heart, no problem. On one hand this sounds great, on the other…
We live in a world of over seven billion people. If we could all just run down to “Organs Are Us” and get whatever part we need, what will happen to the world’s population? We can’t build on to the Earth and, as of yet, Mars won’t make a very cozy second home. Neither will the moon, so this is all we’ve got. If people, and to throw another ethical dilemma in there the people in question will most likely be rich, what does that mean for humanity in general? Will there be mass starvation? Wars fought over water and energy resources? Sure, getting rid of disease sounds wonderful, but having a world filled with healthy people dying from starvation doesn’t sound very pleasant.
Kyle, the main character in Deadly Design, is good looking (okay – outrageously handsome). He’s also smart and athletic. He could be anything in life, and who wouldn’t want that for their child. But what if we had the power to design our own children. Right now, one way couples avoid having children with various diseases is by having their eggs fertilized in a lab. The eggs are then tested and only the healthy ones are frozen or implanted. In the United Kingdom, it’s now legal to create human embryos using three parents. This means that if both parents carry a gene for some disease, they can use the DNA from a donor egg. A healthy genetic sequences can be taken from that third parent and plugged into the fertilized egg in place of the faulty sequence.
I can’t imagine watching a child die from a genetic disease like Tay Sachs or multiple dystrophy. To be able to cure a child of a horrible disease before they’re even formed is pretty great. But some would wonder if we’ll be able to stop there. Will people with deep pockets be able to design their babies like they design their Lamborghinis and their summer homes? There’s the potential for a super race to be created, and then what will that mean for the average human being? What if only members of the super race can go to college or hold political office?
There are so many possibilities in the field of genetic engineering – some good, some frightening. But all of the possibilities are fascinating. And if not for genetic engineering, Kyle wouldn’t exist on the pages of Deadly Design.
I hope readers enjoy learning a little about science while turning the pages of a story filled with intrigue, romance, and heart stopping action.