Navigating the turbulent waters of genetic manipulation, this first novel tells a grisly what-if tale, speculating about the possible outcome of human gene research gone bad. Amoreena Daniels, a young Julia Roberts look-alike, is a bright but impoverished premed student who chooses to become a surrogate mother in order to pay for her uninsured mother's cancer treatment. She believes she is gestating a child for private adoption, but a series of suspicious incidents at the clinic lead her to wonder whether something different is in the works. The other surrogate mothers seem to be mostly illegal aliens, and some of them are badly frightened. Then a former medical intern with a drug problem gets in touch with her and tries to convince her that the clinic is fronting a scheme to produce subhuman clones for organ harvesting and scientific experimentation. Amoreena refuses to believe him, but a disk he sends her after he mysteriously disappears proves he is right. Unwittingly, she has allowed her body to be used as an incubator for "drones," mostly human but also part pig and part baboon. The novel culminates in a long episode set in Guatemala, where Amoreena is taken against her will to give birth. Nayes doesn't indulge in gory detail, focusing instead on the clinic intrigue and a Guatemala subplot involving two young crusaders out to foil the clinic's plans. The frisson the novel supplies is meager when weighed against the wordy buildup, but those who prefer their thrills mild may be satisfied.
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