Deadly Design by Debra Dockter, review by Melissa Fox
Kyle McAdams is special, but not for the "normal" reasons. No: he's a genetically engineered identical twin with his brother, who's two years older than Kyle. And Kyle has been living in Connor's shadow his whole life.
Connor was excellent sports, the Valedictorian, had the perfect girlfriend. Some of that was just Connor's personality; some of it was genetic engineering. So, Kyle spent his life being as different from Connor as possible: a gamer rather than athlete, mediocre at school, and so on. It's an understatement to say that they didn't have the best relationship.
Even so, when Connor drops dead right before his 18th birthday, Kyle is shaken: since they share the same genes, does that mean Kyle is destined to die as well?
Thus begins an intense Kansas-based medical drama. Connor dies in the first couple chapters (and that's not the only death in the book), and the race begins to save Kyle's life. And to do so, he has to go down the rabbit hole of his origin and the doctor who designed him.
At first, the characters were difficult to connect with, especially Kyle. So, what kept me reading was the novelty factor: I love a good Kansas book that gets Kansas right, and local author Dockter is the perfect person to deliver that. I loved the little things: that she got the feel of small town right, that Wichita felt like Wichita, or a small thing like the weather. It was lovely.
I also was impressed with Dockter's ruthlessness: in the first third of the book she spares very few people. It gave her credibility and set up the show-down in the end extremely well. And it gave a sense of urgency to the book: as the book went on, I came to care about Kyle and his quest to save his life.
It's a solid debut novel, and I'm quite interested to see what Dockter writes next.