Tuesday 5 March 2024



Title: BABY X
Kira Peikoff
Crooked Lane Books
General Fiction, Mystery, Thrillers,
                Speculative Fiction, Futuristic

Release Date:
5th March 2024

When any biological matter can be used to create life, stolen celebrity DNA sells to the highest bidder–or the craziest stalker–in this propulsive thriller.

With a vivid imagining of the future, Gattaca meets Black Mirror in Kira Peikoff’s Baby X.

In the near-future United States, where advanced technology can create egg or sperm from any person’s cells, celebrities face the alarming potential of meeting biological children they never conceived. Famous singer Trace Thorne is tired of being targeted by the Vault, a black market site devoted to stealing DNA. Sick of paying ransom money for his own cell matter, he hires bio-security guard Ember Ryan to ensure his biological safety.

Ember will do anything she can to protect her clients. She knows all the Vault’s tricks–discarded tissues, used straws, lipstick tubes–and has prevented countless DNA thefts. Working for Thorne, her focus becomes split when she begins to fall for him, but she knows she hasn’t let anything slip–love or not, his DNA is safe. But then she and Thorne are confronted by a pregnant woman, Quinn, who claims that Thorne is the father of her baby, and all bets are off. 

Goodreads Link

I think the cover of the book is quite striking with its bright blue X mixed with the orange background, it will certainly stand out on a book store shelf.

This book is set in a future world where there have been technological and biological advances we can only imagine. Cell phones, drivers’ licenses and printed magazines are all things of the past, smart lenses then have replaced tablets & newspapers, college courses are now “holo courses” (done by holograph), no need to attend in person. There are resveratrol injections & cellular reboots to make you look younger, people are living longer.

Even the way people have families has changed, people no longer jump into bed and have sex to get pregnant, it is considered a much more civilised process. For a woman, a cheek swab is taken at a fertility clinic, if you're straight your male partner (bf or husband) gives his sperm, and the process begins, however if he is infertile his cheek swab is taken instead and the process begins. A two women couple would each give cheek swabs
For a two males couple usually one would give a cheek swab & the other a sperm sample.

Once the samples are collected a lab tech then will chemically coax the cheek cells into either sperm or egg in a petri dish. This process is called IVG “In Vitro Gametogenesis”

This new process of procreation basically means any two people on earth could create a baby together. The embryos are grown in test tubes, they then undergo a genetic analysis at day 5. Each embryo is assigned a spreadsheet of scores that show the probability of a wide range of grains and diseases. After that the two prospective parents go through “Selection” which is where they select the embryo that will be implanted. Sometimes this is an easy choice ie, there’s only one healthy embryo, other times there’s a larger amount of healthy embryos and then the different scores, characteristics and predispositions and the parent’s preference such as male or female. This new selection process is considered healthier and is considered a much better option than the “normal old way”. This new way is cheaper than having to pay for the higher, treatment costs of inherited diseases or disabilities. There are only a small number of people, a few rural & religious groups insist on the 'natural way'. In fact, the “natural way” and trusting mother nature is considered quite archaic and a bad thing.

All of this sounds really good, and yes, I can see the positives but unfortunately there are some unscrupulous people about who steal DNA, be it hair, saliva or mucus then take this along with their own DNA sample to create a baby. This is referred to as Non-Consensual Reproduction. One such company is the Vault, who store samples, acquire celebrity samples and sell them to the highest bidder. This practice results in babies being born from stolen cells. The Vault didn’t start out this way but that’s how it has ended up being a dark sinister power that needs to be stopped.

The main characters in the book show us, the reader the different sides of the process and the different people who use the service and how it affects them.

There’s Ember trying to help celebrity Trace Thorne clean up every bit of his DNA whenever he is out and about or doing a concert. Thorne has already discovered the Vault have been trying to sell his DNA so bringing Ember on his tours is damage control/limitation. When the pair grow close and begin their own romance everything seems to point to a happily ever after for them. Then Quinn enters their lives, she’s a surrogate for a man called Robert Roy, but there’s something not right about him and she thinks he may have used stolen cells to create the baby she is carrying. Quinn thinks those cells belonged to Thorne, as Robert Roy seems to be morbidly obsessed by him. In fact, Quinn and Robert met at one of Thorne’s concerts. It turns out Ember is hiding a dark past, one with a partner that led to domestic violence. She was lucky to escape and just wants to forget it all and move on. Though the past has a habit of catching up to you when you least expect it! Then the darkness and Lily’s part in it have to be faced and dealt with once and for all.

The other central characters are Lily and her parents. Lily is almost ashamed as she was not created in the new scientific way, she was created accidentally the old-fashioned way. When Lily’s mum and dad decide to have another child using the new technique Lily is upset and to be honest jealous that any prospective child will be favoured over herself. When Lily was young her mother was in prison for ten long years, so she feels angry that she missed those years with her mother. Lily blurts out the fact her mother has a criminal record at a clinic appointment which then ruins her parent’s chances at that clinic. Lily then wants to use her mother’s story of being denied a baby because she has a criminal record for a journalistic piece, she is doing for a magazine she has a chance of working at, if she can impress them more than the other candidate Radia. For some reason not known to Lily her parents refuse to talk about the past and are more interested in the fact they have found a different clinic to help them have a new child. Lily resents this and continues digging into a past her parents want to forget, and just as she gives up the dark secret, she thinks her parents were keeping from her is revealed.

I loved the characters of Ember, and Thorne. Lily I had mixed feeling about and I thoroughly enjoyed hating Robert Roy/Mason!

The futuristic world building is well thought out and flows well, from the suitcase where you press a button and the zipper automatically zips up itself! The criminal act of DDD, Driving, Digitally, Distracted! I also really enjoyed reading about the intricacies of the choices people had to make on embryo selection day, it wasn’t just a choice of male or female, the prospective parents could choose for “A list traits” such as brilliance, athleticism, extroversion and beauty, and “B list traits” such as a sunny disposition, creativity, empathy and patience.

There were some amusing descriptions in the book too, such as “people were like onions, the more layers you peeled back, the more they stunk”!

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were, Wow! Amazing read! Loved it, really well thought out futuristic world with believable characters that you become really attached to. On one hand you may think the content of the book far-fetched or extreme science fiction but when you really look at today's world and the way things are developing, it is quite a believable prospect!

Summing up Kira Peikoff has delivered another amazing futuristic, yet believable world. I loved it! It is certainly a thought provoking read!



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