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Gray Matter


Gray Matter

In an age when biotechnology seems to be on the verge of offering prospective parents every possible option, Gary Braver (pen name for Northeastern University English Professor Gary Goshgarian) has written a novel about the aftermath of choice. Like its predecessor, ELIXIR, GRAY MATTER treads on ground fraught with ethical dilemma in the face of overwhelming temptation.

Rachel Whitman and her husband live in a tony suburb of Boston. Thanks to Mr. Whitman's success and business acumen, they appear to have it all, including a beautiful little boy named Dylan who sings like an angel. Living in a town where the expression "keeping up with the Joneses" was born, Rachel wants the best for her family. Affluence can often breed a sense of entitlement, and GRAY MATTER more than subtly touches on this cause and effect. Daily, she sees her son, who has slight learning disabilities, struggling with the smallest of tasks in comparison to the genius children he is surrounded by in his exclusive computer science camp and private school. Plagued by decisions she made as a youth to experiment with a popular sex drug, she fears that she is the cause of her son's inferior capabilities and, like any parent who would do all for a child, she seeks alternatives to improve his brain power.

A kindly neighbor --- and mother of a genius child --- hints at a procedure that could help slow, innocent Dylan, and Rachel becomes hooked on learning more. She and her husband embroil themselves in a quest to find out about the "enhancement" that can double their child's IQ for a small fortune. There's something troubling --- mysterious --- about the good doctor who professes to have the miracle key to unlock Dylan's potential, and something equally troubling about the legions of brainiacs he has created, but Rachel can't quite put her finger on it. When detective Greg Zakarian, obsessed with the past murder of a young boy, starts to investigate the recent disappearances of several bright but poor children, the town's secret unfolds quickly and with gruesome, unimaginable consequences.

GRAY MATTER trespasses into the frightening arena of possibility, made all the more frightening by the element of realism brought to the story by Braver's expert research and use of blood-curdling medical details. We live in a world of ever-increasingly complex and tempting options. Cloning, stem cell research, the human genome project --- these and other scientific breakthroughs open up a whole new world of possibilities, controversial possibilities that were once solely the realm of science fiction. Braver takes a fictional look at the dark side of scientific advancement and asks if the tremendous cost is truly worth the coveted prize for merely a select few. Along the way, Braver gives us a thrilling story equal to the best work of Michael Crichton or Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs.

Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 22, 2011

Gray Matter
by Gary Braver

  • Publication Date: March 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • ISBN-10: 0812570065
  • ISBN-13: 9780812570069