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I Belong

Review: Deadly Design by Debra Dockter

Deadly DesignTitle: Deadly Design

Author: Debra Dockter

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: N/A

Publication Date: June 2, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 0399171053 (Penguin Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0399171055 (Penguin Teen)

Reviewed by: Michelle


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.

Quick & Dirty: A SciFi mystery that disproves that there is something perfect about altered genetic engineering.

Opening Sentence: I was five years old when I found out that my older brother wasn’t just my brother.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Deadly Design by Debra Dockter is about Kyle and Connor, genetically engineered twins.  But everything begins at the Genesis Innovations Laboratory, where the twins, along with others, were conceived. There are differences, and similarities of course, but along with that, there are inconsistencies. After an event that catapults the dynamic of this utopia, questions reveal themselves without any answers in sight.

Kyle isn’t someone that I connected to. He was a bit too immature for my tastes. He constantly complained and felt things inadequate. His inner monologue wasn’t something that I could relate to. I couldn’t connect with the idea that he complained about a perfect brother when he himself was also manufactured.

While I didn’t have an ecstatic cosmic pull towards Deadly Design, I also didn’t dislike it. For me, it was just another story. There were too many things going on, with more events than details, and things that didn’t exactly seem plausible, even for science fiction.

The premise was promising, but the delivery wasn’t there. Deadly Design didn’t have much of a world-building element, but more of a dialogue-driven momentum. There were a few highs and lows with the pacing, but overall Deadly Design wasn’t for me.

I was definitely grabbed by the byline that Deadly Design is an “If I Stay meets Maze Runner” story. That seems to be a lot of hype, but I was willing to give it a try. About halfway through, I didn’t feel the same emotions that I felt with If I Stay, nor did I feel the rush as Maze Runner. But it really is unfair to attempt to compare those stories with this one.

Notable Scene:

“One fucking shot,” Connor says. “You missed one fucking shot. And everything changed. But who gives a shit about one shot? I just wish… I wish you’d taken another one. I bet you’d have made it.”

Maybe I would have. But it’s too late now.

Connor gestures toward the screen. “Doesn’t this shit give you nightmares?”

I look at the brown and gray images of bony zombies frozen in grotesque positions, and I have to smile because I’m really fond of them, of killing them, anyway.

“I suppose we could play for a while and see if it gives you nightmares.”

“Really?” Connor grins and jumps on the bed as I plug in the controller. “I’ve never played, so…”

I roll my eyes like teaching him is going to be a royal pain. And I hope it will be. I hope he’s not a natural at aiming guns and placing bombs and building barriers. I hope he sucks. I hope he dies a hundred times, and I hope he loves, because we’re too old to build towers and knock them down.


FTC Advisory: Penguin provided me with a copy of Deadly Design. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  


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