Living Proof is set a in a world where the church and the state are closer than ever. In a very religious society the progress made by 2012 in stem cell treatment has all but been forgotten; embryos cannot be used for experimentation or treatment, only their use in procreation is allowed. However even in this world there are those who remember the potential benefits of stem cell treatment, people like Arianna, a fertility doctor with a personal motive to continue the research, no matter what the cost. But will her new boyfriend be a blessing or a curse to her cause?
The subject matter of Living Proof is very relevant in today’s society and the book portrays both sides of the controversy. It is obvious the author favours science, as at times the religious argument is put across in a somewhat flippant manner through the way the religious characters are portrayed. I personally didn’t like this, as a constant thread though the book was essentially that the religious characters were extremists and almost stupid because of their beliefs. I did however enjoy the way Trent, who works for an enforcement agency protecting embryos, questions his faith in an intelligent and fascinating way which came across as very real because you could feel his confusion. From the science side, which I personally support, some arguments were ‘preachy’ and very run-of-the-mill. I would have preferred, from both sides, for characters other than
have more varying opinions and degrees of belief; this would have made the characters
more interesting and complex.
There is a romantic sub-plot in this thriller. Whilst I’m not normally a fan of romance, it was done well and I did find myself routing for the couple by the end. Again, this is something that could have been taken further, and whilst there was some conflict, this could have been more complex to make it more interesting and less predictable.
The book was somewhat let down by the drop in pace in several parts which detracted from the suspense and left me slightly bored. Despite these slow parts, usually where characters were introduced or explored, there were still some characters, such as those in Arianna’s lab team, that I felt I didn’t know by the end of the book. Along side this there are small plot problems that make Arianna less believable as a character – why would she trust
Trent so fast?
Why does her MS progress so quickly in a matter of weeks?
Overall this book is an interesting look at a possible and realistic future. I enjoyed reading it, as I think other science/medical thriller fans will, due to the ethics involved. The plot does take a backseat to the pro-choice agenda and this may put some readers off. Christians and those who are strongly pro-life will also probably want to avoid this due to the characterisation of religious people; whom in this book are definitely the bad guys. I would especially recommend this for book clubs and school groups due to the discussions it will spurn, in fact I would have liked to see a ‘questions for discussion’ section or similar, which can often be found in similar books.
Living Proof is available from Amazon UK for £16.41 (hardback) and £5.08 (paperback), hopefully an e-book version will be released soon.
[A review copy was provided by the publisher]