Gestation Seven

One Was Black and One Was White

Fiction - Science Fiction
382 Pages
Reviewed on 06/28/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Gestation Seven: One Was Black and One Was White is a work of fiction in the crime, suspense, and cultural issues subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author J Stewart Willis. In this intense and intriguing crime thriller novel, we are brought into a mysterious case indeed when two dead babies are discovered in a dumpster. The results of the two children’s bodies lead investigators and reporters to a scientific scheme that appears to be trying to play God with women’s bodies. Changing the gestation period for human beings from nine months to seven seems like an advantageous goal, but it’s one that is fraught with disaster from the off.

Author J Stewart Willis has crafted a fascinating and original take on crime and medical thrillers, which also takes a cold hard look at medical culture and the effect that the decisions of technology, culture, and politics have on women’s reproductive rights. The crime plot of the tale shifts and twists with suitable ‘a-ha’ moments to give fans of the genre a lot of suspense and intrigue, and I enjoyed the clue-following because it never felt spoon-fed or overdone. The character development was present, and the author made good use of the ensemble and their different skills for the investigation, as well as some great atmospheric moments in Alexandria itself. The theming is the real star of the show, however, and fans of fascinating original concepts that sway between medical crime and realistic dystopia should certainly give Gestation Seven a go.

Delene Vrey

Gestation Seven: One Was Black and One Was White by J Stewart Willis focuses on the work of three scientists who were trying to reduce the human gestation period from nine to seven months. David’s marriage was on the rocks when two of the three babies from the experiment were found dead in a dumpster behind a barbecue restaurant. A nosy newspaper journalist wormed her way into David’s life while his wife was gone. Her article led to David becoming the new sensation in town. People started questioning his scientific morals and motivation. As was to be expected, people were divided regarding these experiments. An investment company was interested in David and his work and wanted to start a surrogate clinic. Would this idea bear fruit or be another disaster?

J Stewart Willis wrote Gestation Seven from various points of view. This adds layers to the novel and gives the reader more insight into the characters and their motives, and how this colors their actions and reactions to events. The book explores a variety of topics ranging from the ethics regarding science and how far science can go before we start playing God. Other topics include trust and secrecy in both work and marital relationships. I loved the exploration of these topics. Willis makes one question why we hide certain occurrences from our partners and whether we truly trust each other’s intentions. This is a good read for science fiction fanatics, although I would have preferred to have seen more in the book concerning the experiment and greater detail on the outcome of the babies being born. I loved that Willis introduced characters besides the scientists who were for and against the experiment.

Jamie Michele

Gestation Seven by J Stewart Willis revolves around the mysterious deaths of two infants who were the byproduct of human experimentation on the American East Coast. David Neale and his wife Linda are experiencing deep fissures in their marriage, heightened by David's propensity for late working hours and lack of communication. When two infants are found dead, having been unceremoniously dumped in a bin, journalist Mary Murphy is first on the scene. David grapples internally with guilt and Linda, who leaves with their kids, instinctively recognizes a shift in David when news of the discovery breaks. Mary puts the pieces together and finds her way to David and the discovery of what truly transpired with two rogue colleagues who looked to splice the human genetic code to reduce the gestation period of pregnancy by two months. The outcome being two horribly mutated infants sets off a chain of events amplified by the chaotic media and congressional scrutiny that land on the powerless David.

From the outset, Gestation Seven by J Stewart Willis sets itself up to be a book that changes focus from the experimental procedure in the lead-up to what transpires in the makeshift laboratory of the scientists and, instead, follows the extreme fallout that occurs from the moment the dead infants are found onward. Willis does not spend time explaining the how of what happened but focuses on the human element of its impact on David's personal life after the scientists he says are responsible disappear. The science is not the plot; the modern-day bloodsport of mob mentality and justice by public opinion is. The writing is simple and omniscient in its narration. Still, the themes of ethics, scientific responsibility, and the consequences of unchecked ambition on the ancillary individuals involved are effectively conveyed, the setting is almost a character in its own right, and closure is achieved in a believable way.

Asher Syed

In Gestation Seven by J Stewart Willis, the main character David Neale and two researchers at the National Institutes of Health conduct an unauthorized experiment involving surrogate mothers and animal cells to shorten human pregnancy. The hoped-for result does not materialize and the experiment leaves two mutant infants in its wake and in a garbage can, where news reporter Mary Murphy discovers the crime scene and sees an opportunity for her career. The “Route-1 babies” are made into a national human interest story and David's life is put under a different type of microscope when he is made to answer for the incident being investigated by the government and the public by way of the media.

Gestation Seven by J Stewart Willis has an interesting approach as there is not a bonafide protagonist in its story nor is there even an anti-hero, because looking at its main character, David Neale, there is no 'hero' in him at all. David is a deeply flawed and unlikeable character. I am a family man myself and it is generally understood that anyone with a common amount of integrity has the choice to blow up their own life, but not someone else's. David destroys any hope of his children having a normal life and future, cheats on his wife, and is a morally devoid scientist, and possibly a murderer. Willis does a good job of making David a guy we love to hate and this is critical since the story is character-driven with different points of view. Nobody is good and this appears to be intentional, and in that sense, Willis cleverly injects realism into the work. The plot is just how David is going to get out of the mess he is in and, when push comes to shove, that's what people attempt daily in their lives. Willis has written a straightforward book that is a reflection of the worst in us. Recommended.

Essien Asian

Armed with a journalism degree and a year's worth of experience Mary Murphy believes she could be doing much better for herself. Her present position as a reporter with a local newspaper is uninspiring as she hardly gets the good stuff, juggling that with running errands for colleagues who see her as nothing more than an unnecessary addition. All that changes when she finds herself at the scene of a crime and just happens to be the only one to get details of a juicy story and pictures to boot. The bodies of two babies have been found in a dumpster but the police have no leads. Mary smells a story that could change her career’s trajectory. She is about to discover that there are consequences to her ambition in Gestation Seven by J. Stewart Willis.

A journalist and a scientist discover that there are consequences to success in J. Stewart Willis's drama novel. His storyline sounds unusual but you will be surprised by how possible it is for the experimentation David and his colleagues embarked on to be replicated in real life. His characters are quite the bunch with David's struggle to juggle the demands of work and family complemented by Mary's methods of getting the scoop on her story. Willis focuses on extensive detailing which reflects in the legal processes and intriguing conversations. His efforts at creating depth in his characters’ origins turn out excellently. It is not restricted to the principal ones alone but across the board which gives the story an added layer of authenticity. The sum of this is a novel that is as realistic as it is moving. Gestation Seven will leave you with a new appreciation of the limits of professional ethics.