by Joanne Ramos
(Bloomsbury £12.99, 336 pp) IN RECENT years, there has been a wave of dystopian novels about women’s reproductive rights, a la Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
The latest is this U.S. debut, about a surrogacy scheme cooked up by an entrepreneur, Mae Yu. She promises employees a mammoth payday if they can turn out perfect babies for her high-end clientele, after nine months of 24/7 surveillance at a remote facility behind closed doors.
Crammed with ‘ Gotcha’- type reversals, the action cuts between Mae Yu, whose solicitous manner hides a ruthlessly dehumanising world view, and Jane, an over-trusting Filipino single mother who signs up to be a surrogate after losing her job as a nanny.
Her desperation to secure the future of her own child, left with an aunt, makes her prey to Mae Yu’s trickery. This fuels a narrative resembling a cross between Rosemary’s Baby and Dave Eggers’s tech thriller The Circle.
Even if, by the end of the book, you can’t help feeling a bit manipulated yourself, this is still addictive, thoughtprovoking entertainment.