four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
24-Sept-Oct-2006
By: 
Kit Reed
user_rating: 
0

A-The Baby MerchantIn a world of the near future, international borders have closed, fertility rates have dropped, and adoptions are difficult to obtain. With babies such precious commodities, those lucky enough to find one pay a dear price. Tom Starbird, an adoption agent who steals babies for the wealthy, is ready to leave the business. Then a high-profile journalist and his infertile wife blackmail him into doing one last job. Starbird sets his eyes on pregnant art student Sasha Egan, who lives in a home for unwed mothers. But when the unborn baby’s father appears, Sasha, sensing ulterior motives, goes on the run.
Tor. 336 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0765315505

Hartford Courant 4 of 5 Stars
"In Reedland—the fantasy world where the author’s characters live, breathe, and inevitably screw up—half the fun is viewing how surreal events send her anti-heroes bumping into each other like so many demented protons. … Reed literally brings new meaning to the term ‘penetrating satire.’" Owen McNally

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"Too many writers sentimentalize pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, but Reed presents the full range of joys, sorrows, inconveniences, and pleasures attendant upon bringing a new life into the world. … By the time the novel’s climax arrives, Reed has orchestrated the central conflict for maximum impact." Michael Berry

St. Petersburg Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The future Reed posits is so uncomfortably close to our present that only a few very believable details separate them. … The Baby Merchant is first and last a smart, sometimes startling thriller, graced with an interesting bad guy and with Sasha, whose metamorphosis from self-absorbed student to panicky single mom to avenging mother tiger powers the story." Colette Bancroft

Chicago Sun-Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[Reed] prompts us to question how important having lots of money is when the barren couples’ ulterior motives have more to do with attaining their every desire and less to do with the selfless task of caring and raising another human being. … I found myself racing through chapters about a young unwed mother and her stalking, one-night-stand lover, annoyed that they were detracting from Starbird’s own philosophical and moral crisis." Cheryl L. Reed

Critical Summary

Kit Reed, author of Thinner Than Thou and other novels, has written an SF satire and psychological thriller that provokes larger questions about money, status, happiness, parenting, and even technology (newborns receive microchips in their heads). Instead of idealizing the parent-child relationship, Reed shows a refreshing array of emotions that asks what it really means to raise and care for another human being. The Robin Hood-esque character of Tom Starbird captivated all critics; when he disappears from the narrative, the story slows a bit. Overall, however, Baby Merchant is fast-paced thriller filled with interesting characterizations and situations that hit close to home. Just ignore the spoiler on the book flap.