Sunday, January 20, 2013


Alex and Leslie Twisden live in a gorgeous, humongous house in Manhattan and lead very privileged lives. Only one thing is missing: a child. Alex is significantly older than Leslie and they are having problems conceiving. They have tried every infertility treatment they can find no matter how ridiculous sounding or expensive it is, including in vitro fertilization, various medicines, homeopathic remedies, and various diets. Leslie wants to give up and just adopt, but Alex is persistent. After practically being robbed just to get the information, one of Alex's friends gives him the information for an Eastern European doctor with a revolutionary new treatment that has a huge success rate. Even with Leslie's misgivings, they travel to Slovenia and get the painful injections. Success! Conception follows swiftly and twins are born. Fast forward 10 years. The twins Adam and Alice are terrified of them. They are locked in their rooms at night and keep terrifying secrets for their parents. After they can't take any more, they run away and inadvertently discover the secret behind their parents' behavior and their own nature.

Breed is a fascinating and addictive read. The concepts are interesting, even if I have to suspend disbelief. The fertility injections Alex and Leslie received changed them and made them more savage and animalistic. They are starting to lose language, becoming more violent, and struggling against the urge to eat their children. Although the science behind this is shaky at best, these parents are frightening. I definitely feel the constant fear of their children and the undercurrent of uneasiness and hostility everywhere. They are terrified of telling anyone about their parents, but their inaction could also mean their deaths. Their will power is the only thing between their children and a horrible, gruesome death. It begs the question if having those children is really worth becoming cannibalistic monsters for. There are plenty of other options that can be explored before resorting to questionable, untested treatments that could contain anything. Even though they go through all this madness to make their lives complete, it ironically and utterly destroys their lives. They lose the ability to work in public, sell or destroy all their valuables, and allow their house and the surrounding property descend into disrepair. This is a new spin on the classic story of getting screwed over because of messing too much with nature.

Some flaws mar this otherwise addicting novel. The science behind the treatment and its effects are dubious and I had to force myself to suspend disbelief. If it were just explained as magic, it would have been much less annoying. The other thing that bothers me is the weird, unneeded subplots. A third baby was born, but pronounced dead and a nurse adopted him, raising him as her own. This subplot just didn't really go anywhere, became confusing as it went on, and made the book less focused. This space in the book could have been used to further develop the meaningful characters or the plot.

Breed is a thought provoking, creepy novel. There are some really memorable scenes that would look awesome on a movie screen. I would love to read a sequel to Breed focusing on how the treatment affected the children (of all the parents who used it) and how they will shape the future.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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