Slickly suspenseful debut medical thriller finds nasty variations of Rosemary's Baby romping about the heavily guarded interiors of a global biotechnology firm.
Amoreena Daniels, named by her mother Geneva after the heroine of an early Elton John song, is a poor, proud, brilliant, and beautiful pre-med student working hard to qualify for a scholarship when she learns that cancer-ridden Geneva used the money for her medical insurance to help pay for Amoreena's education. Geneva is about to be tossed out of her hospital bed when, quicker than you can say too-good-to-be-true, Amoreena is offered $50,000 by the innocuously named Women's Clinic to be a surrogate parent. While Amoreena is getting artificially inseminated, a poor, proud, uneducated Guatemalan girl named Gabriella is trying to escape from the horrible people in a horrible high-tech lab hidden in the jungle. These people are most interested in the horrible thing that is growing too fast and too painfully in her womb and, a few pages later, in Amoreena's. The staff of the Women's Clinic tell Amoreena that the unsettlingly rapid movements she feels are nothing to worry about, but with her background in medicine and the strange warnings she's getting from poor women she doesn't know, she begins to worry. When a medical intern who tries to warn her winds up dead, Amoreena finds herself being hounded by all kinds of weird characters bent on stopping her from finding out that something not quite human is forming inside her. Nayes, himself an M.D., makes his blindly trusting female characters both victims and villains in this well-executed if predictable tale of medical research run amok.
Some loose ends are left dangling, but the mix of breezy science and lab-smock sadism makes for breathless page-turning.