XX by Angela Chadwick is a highly realistic science fiction novel set in the here and now with a political climate mirroring the current one, not only in this country. What this book really considers is human rights, the meaning of ‘family’ and the influence of the media on our lives. I love that this book is told from the perspective of two normal women; they are not extremely wealthy, hungry for fame, proving a point or anything, they are just a couple who want a baby, pure and simple.
Jules and Rosie want a to have a baby, but it’s not as simple as that. While they have been considering sperm donor options, the idea of having a baby that is a mix of both their DNA would be the perfect situation, and now that is a real possibility. Becca, a doctor from Portsmouth University, has developed the technology needed to impregnate a female’s egg using another female’s egg and there’s a an experimental trial which Jules and Rosie are desperate to join. However, how will they fare once the world finds out that they are taking part in this highly controversial trial?
Why this is a good book
Firstly, the plot of this book is nice and simple. Two women want to have a baby, join an experimental trial, get pregnant and must deal with the fallout when someone leaks their identities to the press. This means that the exploration of each of the themes is deep, rich and well-developed. I loved reading about the ways people and politicians view family dynamics, what is deemed as ‘normal’ and the way we will rush to protect it by any means necessary. Within this, there’s also a consideration of politics and the ways people view statements made by people of power and in the media; the fact that people believed statistics without looking into the studies behind them proves why we end up with bad people in positions of power. We as a society love a good statistic, and XX shows how that can be used to manipulate us into believing things based on ‘scientific evidence’ and ‘proven facts’ even when they are not true and not moral.
The way that human rights is explored in XX by Angela Chadwick is important, as we often ignore that those rights should be available to every human being, and not just those who look, think, feel and act as we do. Chadwick shows that, while we may have come a long way in our view on judging people by the way they look, we are still very far behind in the way we judge people based on their personal preferences and actions. People who do not think, feel and act as we do are considered less than and therefore do not deserve the same rights as us, right?
Wrong. Jules and Rosie are an excellent representation of normal people. Jules is a regional journalist, Rosie works in a bookshop. They both earn below average salaries and enjoy their life in their Portsmouth-based flat. However, because they are lesbians, they face much backlash for wanting what a heterosexual couple would want.
A quick note to say that the only things I didn’t fully enjoy about XX were Jules’ attitude and Abi’s portrayal, which basically went hand-in-hand. I felt that Chadwick could have made Jules just a bit more open to a female friendship within her male-dominated office, and that this perpetuated the stereotype of working women being in constant competition. In this sense, Abi could have been brought into the narrative more, as I felt that Tom and Anthony were praised a lot more than she, despite offering the same level of support.
Overall, XX by Angela Chadwick is a very good book covering a myriad of topical issues, especially in terms of the impact of the media on the lives of others. I would recommend this to readers of VOX (whether you loved or hated it) and The Rules of Seeing. If you like realistic science fiction narratives, are not offended by gay people and enjoy considering the political and social upheaval of controversial things happening in society, this is the book for you. I am very excited to see what Chadwick does next, and will be hitting pre-order on her next title as fast as I can!