An unthinkable decision, a deadly mistake: Off-Target by Eve Smith #bookreview #OffTarget

In an all-too-possible near future, when genetic engineering has become the norm for humans, not just crops, parents are prepared to take incalculable risks to ensure their babies are perfect … altering genes that may cause illness, and more…
Susan has been trying for a baby for years, and when an impulsive one-night stand makes her dream come true, she’ll do anything to keep her daughter and ensure that her husband doesn’t find out … including the unthinkable.
She believes her secret is safe. For now.
But as governments embark on a perilous genetic arms race and children around the globe start experiencing a host of distressing symptoms – even taking their own lives – something truly horrendous is unleashed.
Because those children have only one thing in common, and people are starting to ask questions…
Bestselling author of The Waiting Rooms, Eve Smith returns with an authentic, startlingly thought-provoking, nail-biting blockbuster of a thriller that provides a chilling glimpse of a future that’s just one manipulation away… 

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Hi and welcome to my review of Off-Target!

Frankly, I don’t know what to tell you except buy it and read it ASAP! 

I was a huge fan of Eve Smith’s debut The Waiting Rooms last year, so I couldn’t wait to find out what she had come up with and I dove in at the first chance I got. Off-Target was exactly what I had been hoping it would be: a slightly dystopian, slightly futuristic thriller with a heart.

I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but what I do immensely enjoy is dystopian literature and thrillers set in the near future, the author starting out with life as we know it and escalating one element, having that element evolve far beyond what it is now but with its roots firmly in the present, and looking at it from a slightly dystopian angle. Think John Marrs with The One, The Passengers and The Minders.

Off-Target tells the story of a woman, Susan, who is desperately trying to get pregnant the old-fashioned way in a world where IVF and the like have practically become the norm. Or like her friend puts it: these days it’s romantic if you’re even present at conception. She and the hubby have had the usual tests done and there is no medical reason why they shouldn’t conceive, except that it’s been years now and it still hasn’t happened. I have to admit, I’ve never felt that aching need, that burning desire, but Susan is so real, so life-like almost, that I had no problems putting myself in her shoes.

One night of disappointment and too much booze leads to an unexpected pregnancy and Susan finds herself in quite the predicament. The available technology allows her to swiftly confirm that her husband is not the father of her baby but unfortunately, that same technology will prevent her from hiding that fact from the hubby, who has been scorned before and is not the forgiving sort. She doesn’t want to lose him, but she also doesn’t want to lose her longed-for baby. Desperate times ask for desperate measures, and Susan has never been more desperate in her life…

Fast-forward to eleven years later and Susan has a beautiful and smart daughter on the brink of teenhood. Only the decisions she made while pregnant come back to haunt her and the repercussions of those prepartum decisions may very well cost her everything she fought so hard to keep. At this point, the narrative switches between mother and daughter and so did my loyalties. While part of me understood why Susan did what she did, part of me struggled with it, and all of me felt all the feelings for her daughter. This will make such a fantastic book club or buddy read!

I’m deliberately keeping it vague, seriously guys, just read it! Suffice it to say it’s an incredibly thought-provoking story. The technology side of it alone, genetic engineering is such a fascinating but polemic topic and I love what Off-Target did with it. However, it’s the realistic characters that breathe life into the story and urge you to read on.

Off-Target is a super addictive story, I just couldn’t put it down. I timed it so I could finish it on my day off but I finished it well before that. Despite its technological angle it is extremely readable and the suspense, the need to know what would happen next, and its characters kept me invested throughout.

Off-Target is a smart, slightly dystopian, slightly futuristic thriller with a huge heart and I can’t recommend it enough.

Check out what inspired Off-Target here on Eve’s website and link through to the scientific bit from there.

Off-Target is available now in all digital formats, happy e-publication day to Eve Smith! The paperback will follow on 17 February 2022 (that’ll make a lovely birthday pressie from me to me 😁). (Pre)order now directly from Orenda Books here.

Massive thanks to Orenda Books for the eARC. All opinions are my own.

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