Living Proof by Kira Peikoff

Kira Peikoff“You’re an agent of the DEP, Trent, but really, you’re an agent of God.” – Gideon Dopp

Welcome to the year 2027, the new Dark Ages of scientific research where not only has stem cell research been completely outlawed, but the termination of any embryo, even those “left over” from in vitro fertilization treatments, is considered first degree murder.

The Federal Department of Embryo Preservation (DEP) practices strict oversight on fertility clinics, making sure that every embryo generated is accounted for. Those not actually used must be stored in a viable state in perpetuity, and clinics are subject to both yearly and random inspections to ensure they are performing up to Federal guidelines.

Dr. Arianna Drake runs one of the most successful fertility clinics in New York. A little too successful in the eyes of Gideon Dopp, a former priest and current Director of the DEP. Given that Drake’s father was an outspoken scientist and she herself supported a radical professor during her time in school, Dopp is leery about exactly why Drake’s clinic is producing so many embryos.

Determined to figure out what she’s up to, Dopp sends one of his agents, Trent Rowe, undercover to get close to Drake and dig up the dirt the DEP needs to shut the clinic down. After all, not only does Dopp suspect Drake of criminal activity, the DEP really needs the PR boost that shutting a clinic down would bring. The more the devoutly religious Rowe learns about Drake and what she’s up to at the clinic, however, the more he begins to question not only his mission, but his faith as well. Now both Drake and Rowe must decide where to put their trust: in science, God, or each other? Their choices will have ramifications not just for the two of them, but potentially the future of all scientific research.

As one could easily tell from author Kira Peikoff’s guest post yesterday, “Books Instead of God?”, Peikoff isn’t afraid to dive headlong into religious and political waters that many would find too treacherous to risk even dipping a toe in. And that’s exactly what she’s done, jumped right in the deep end and taken both the stem cell research debate and the government’s creeping intrusion into individuals’ lives by the horns and wrestled them squarely into the plot of her bold debut thriller, Living Proof.

And while Gideon Dopp and Arianna Drake represent opposite ends of the science/religion spectrum, where Living Proof truly flourishes is in the character of Trent Rowe. Peikoff cleverly uses Rowe as the moral conscience/compass of the book, allowing him to be the one character who views the events unfolding with a mind open to the impact the decisions being made will have on both science and religion, as well as on those who live their lives by the strictures of each.

Given its charged and potentially controversial subject matter, Living Proof is not going to be a book that works for everyone, especially if you like to keep your pleasure reading and religion/politics separate. Those who don’t mind a little of the real world creeping in, however, will find Living Proof to be a thought-provoking look at a possible scientific future that is disturbingly not as unrealistic as it may have sounded only a decade or two ago.

Living Proof is available from Tor Books (ISBN: 978-0765329301).

Kira Peikoff graduated with high honors from New York University in 2007 with a degree in journalism. After four years of various reporting internships including The Daily News, The Orange County Register, Newsday, and New York magazine, Kira realized that fiction was her true love. She then spent a year working full time on what would become her debut novel, Living Proof. After writing Living Proof, Kira worked for several years in the editorial departments at two major NYC publishing houses, which gave her an invaluable inside look at the publishing process and the rapidly changing industry. Currently, Kira is working on her second novel, teaching creative writing to kids and teens through a non-profit organization, and tutoring literature to students across the globe. To learn more about Kira, visit her website.


  • Steve

    May 15, 2012 - 7:51 AM

    Oh the courage that it takes to wade headlong into bashing the Catholic Church! What moral fortitude! She may lose a few Catholic readers and get a bad review on a diosocean website. Horrifying. Write a fiction about Islam taking over Europe and brutally imposing Sharia Law on the inhabitants and the suffering that would follow. That would be courage and less far-fetched.

    The Catholic bashing authors club is full.

  • sabrina ogden

    April 27, 2012 - 5:52 PM

    Sounds interesting, and not overly farfetched given the recent laws passed in Arizona. Nice review, Elizabeth.

    • Elizabeth A. White

      April 27, 2012 - 5:59 PM

      Exactly. The knee-jerk response to the plot may be, “Yeah right, that could never happen” until you stop and think about some of the laws not only being proposed recently but, as you said, actually passed.