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on April 7, 2012
"What man worships...is indicative of his very essence, for reverence is man's deepest form of love, one which holds the key to his soul."

This passage holds the key to the entire novel, and how to understand the characters. The first half of the novel mainly focuses on the one character who changes fundamentally in this respect, as he tries to solve the mystery of what the other main character worships and simultaneously begins to undergo a profound change in his own deepest values. At first, I wanted the book to focus more on the other character earlier on, but came to appreciate what the author was doing.

Unfortunately, when the crucial moment comes it is not entirely convincing. She just talks rather abstractly about life and faith for a couple of paragraphs, and he says, "Everything you say makes perfect sense," and he's completely convinced and that's that. It's all too obvious that the author was not raised to be and has never been religious and has no idea what that's like. Not that this kind of fiction should be naturalistic, but for such a critical plot point to be convincing it at least needs to be somewhat realistic.

But after that the book gets back on track and picks up more and more until it reaches its excellent climax and conclusion. On the whole, a very good first novel. I'll be looking forward to her next.
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on November 7, 2016
I honestly couldn't read much of it and was surprised at the great reviews given by fairly authentic writers. The very predictable and obvious direction of the lst 3 chapters was a major turnoff to me. I know Peikoff is a major ayn rand disciple, and to a certain degree, from a mid-collegiate time frame onwards, so I have I been, but not in the same sort of strict cultish camp required by he peikoff camp. Had I not been aware of this, and had a sort of revulsion roaming thru me as the blatant direction unraveled, I may have read the entire book, and not just the lst 4 chapters or so....I tried twice, years apart, and had the visceral reaction both times.
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on March 19, 2012
Overall the storyline is quite interesting, and as the story progresses the book becomes harder to put down. It's written on the topic of stem cell research from a perspective that is rarely dramatized well in fiction. I wholeheartedly recommend the book.

Most of the other 4-5 star reviews state rather well the strengths of the book, so I'll elaborate a little further on the four main weaknesses I saw that led me to give it 4 rather than 5 stars since those aren't as well represented. Bear in mind that I highly recommend the book.

First, the story is relatively predictable. After the first about 5% of the book, the rest of the story should be predictable at a high level. The author's perspective on the issue is apparent and the reader has enough information to see all the core conflicts, and both how and in what order the conflicts are likely to be resolved in order to provide a suspenseful story that conveys the author's perspective well.

That said, despite being fairly certain how things end up, I grew attached to the characters and really wanted to see how exactly it played out in detail. I was more interested as the story progressed. The most boring part was the late beginning to early middle, where the story was clear but not all of the conflicts were built up to the point where my emotions were strongly attached to seeing successful their resolutions.

Second, the progression of time is a little funky. Halfway through the book I was wondering how there could still be half a book left. It seemed like time slowed down quite a bit.

Third, there are a couple parts where it's a little preachy. This isn't a problem throughout the novel and only crops up in a few places. If you are an Objectivist this might induce mild cringes, or if you're not it may induce some eye-rolling. It's definitely not worth skipping for this. Most work by Objectivists I've read has been far more preachy than this, so I was actually presently surprised it wasn't as bad as I expected going in.

Fourth, I didn't quite buy into some of the political references to liberals and conservatives. The stereotypes seemed pretty on point in the dramatization, but it seemed strange to be in the world Ms. Peikoff presented while at the same time having political division so evenly split among the major parties that one is serioiusly worried about the other gaining power. This novel seems like it is set in a time period completely dominated by conservatives in their most religious state, and some significant chunk of the conflict did depend on liberals being able to take a position of significant power.

Terry Goodkind is definitely still my favorite living author writing from an Objectivist perspective, but this book is next on my list after a good number of his. It's good, my minor quibbles notwithstanding. She chose an excellent subject that is excellent for the message being delivered. It's well-written and even gripping at times. For a first novel I'm definitely impressed and hope to see more in the future.
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on June 11, 2012
Dear Kira, I finished Living Proof, and now, there's only one thing to do. Read it again. As a physician and patient with a chronic illness, an Aristotelian, and a lifetime cyclist with many crashes collected, I find myself living in your all so very real fiction. The physical parallels I've drawn from Arianna are astounding, yet the mental ones are philosophically identical. I'm wondering how you can write so well from a chronically ill person's point of view. It reminds me of Hugh Laurie's talent for orating in an American accent: it's so real that I was shocked to hear him speak in his natural British. Living Proof is a deeply inspiring story of heroism with a gripping plot, intelligent character interplay, and many brilliant metaphors, all of which I've bookmarked or written down. "BED OF MALES!" made me laugh aloud, and "She laughed brightly, clinks of a dozen crystal glasses" still has me smiling. You present medicine and science with expert precision and I've learned many new fascinating things. I eagerly await your next novel (I would love to follow Arianna into the future), but until then, I've a few Living Proof pages to re-live.

Best,
Cary Gossett, MD
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on March 21, 2012
This is a terrific, thoughtful thriller. The characterization, story line, and pace are spot on. I was completely engrossed, and read it in one weekend.

My favorite part of the book was the main characters view of life. She insisted on living her life to the fullest - continuing to bike, learning the piano, starting a new relationship - despite the fact that she was diagnosed with a terminal disease. She was a hero living her life while she was in the very throes fighting for it.

The book is set in a police state future when abortion and stem cell research have been outlawed, and pregnant women are continuously monitored by KGB-like Department of Embryo and Fetal Protection agents. If a DEFP agent decides that a pregnant woman has failed to follow state-mandated guidelines, she can be charged with a felony crime, up to and including murder. The main character is a doctor running a fertility clinic, and she is also continuously monitored and harassed by these agents, since a fertility clinic necessarily must deal with human embryos.

Most readers will probably learn a lot about the medical science behind stem cell research from reading the book. I did. But don't think for a moment that the book is any kind of dry or technical reading. It's not; it's very exciting and suspenseful. And that is the books greatest virtue: it explores very heavy scientific, moral, political issues, but is a completely entertaining, fast paced, page-turning thriller every step of the way.
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on April 5, 2013
Living Proof is a great, fast-pace read, with real current issues being discussed. Even though the book takes place in 2027, the subject of embryonic stem cell research and religious interference has been taking place for many years. I was truly impressed with the knowledge the author had on the subject. She is bright, and an extremely informed author.
I highly recommend this book for any book club. It is definitely a book that brings out a lot of emotion. My book club read this & I can honestly say, we have never had a better, or a more lively meeting. You learn a lot about people you (thought...) you know well after discussing this book. Religion, politics, pro choice, pro life, the topics that are not for "polite company" are subjects that come to a head in this book & roll over into a very heated discussion. So book clubs every where, read this book, bring some wine to your meeting & let the feelings flow.
I do not want to be specific, I do not want to be a spoiler, but science vs religion is the theme in this book. I truly believe Kira did a wonderful job, with this, her first novel on bringing very real issues to the table.
I must admit, this book will make you question some of your own beliefs!
Kudos to Kira, can't wait to read her next book!
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on October 7, 2012
I started reading "Living Proof" and found myself laughing at the absurdity of men guarding embyros as living souls for all eternity. However, in the next instant I felt a shudder of horror rip through me as I realized that it isn't absurd at all. That there exists those type of human beings who would feel no moral qualm at imprisoning the real to save the imaginary. And I was hooked. I had to find out how it would end. I was not disappointed.

"Living Proof" tells a tale taken from today's headlines, and creates a science fiction universe of heroes, villians, moral dilemas, and romantic love. It is science fiction as it ought to be: never predicatable, always captivating, realistically fantastic.

At the end of the novel there was a tightness in my throat, a wetness in my eyes, and a racing heart in my chest. It left me with both a feeling of wonder at what is possible, and trembling anger at those who seek to destroy the wonderfully possible.

If you wish to read a novel by an author who respects and worships the only true holy spirit, the creative human mind; if you wish to read a novel that demonstrates the absurdity of the unreal, and the evil and hatred of those who worship the unreal; if you wish to visit a universe where everything is risked for the sake of one's highest love, then read "Living Proof", you will not be disappointed.

Congratulations, Kira, you have created a novel that is "Living Proof" that the creative mind can triumph in an irrational world.
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on March 15, 2012
What would the world be like if we recognized an embryo as a person under the law? What would happen to embryonic stem cell research, and to the people who could be cured from horrible diseases by the product of such research? What is more important, the life of an actual person, or the potential life of a clump of cells? These are some of the questions Kira Peikoff explores in her magnificent first book, Living Proof. In a world where embryos are considered persons under the law, conflict unfolds between a government agent whose job is to protect embryos, and a scientist determined to find a cure for the disease that is killing her. Things get only more interesting as those two begin to fall in love with each other, pitting their moral values squarely against their romantic interest. It's a fast paced thriller with well developed characters that makes you want to find out what will happen next. I couldn't put it down! Do yourself a favor and read this now, but don't start on a weekday night if you have to work early next day.
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on September 23, 2012
Living Proof by Kira Peikoff was fantastic! Just read it cover to cover this weekend, and it exceeded expectations. Exposing the key elements of the embryonic stem cell research debate (and by extension all other "personhood" related issues) in an engaging thriller, she celebrates love and life while brilliantly exploring themes of religion vs morality, happiness, and science, providing a vivid picture of the values at stake through the use of a gripping plot filled with memorable, recognizable characters. Highly recommend.

Living Proof could also serve as an extremely soft introduction to Ayn Rand's ideas for the modern liberal. Eminently readable fiction, no philosophical passages, zero references to "capitalism" or "taxation" or any formal derivation of Ayn Rand's theory of individual rights, and openly critical of the religious right without much mention of the moral status of the left, yet sprinkled with egoism and eudaimonia and passionately in defense of reason and independent thought throughout in a way only Objectivist literature can be.
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on March 19, 2012
Living Proof Living Proof

A Massive, Massive, Massive Congratulations to Ms. Peikoff for her first book, which is absolutely brilliant, fabulous and well written! Ms. Peikoff is a true genius!
Great, fantastic book, I could not put it down, staying up all night.
I have bought 3 more copies to send overseas as gifts. )and will probably buy more copies as my friends keep requesting...)
I look forward to her second book eagerly.
(I just hope that in the year 2027 it will be nothing like in her book; but I am frightful it can happen...with the kind of governments we have been having... you never know, things have been moving towards that direction, there is an erosion of rights, of freedom in this country, it is only advancing...
Spectacular book, with a theme that will always be controversial among opposing philosophies.
My sincere Congratulations to Ms. Peikoff, keep going! Bravo!
Esther K S Haddad, New York, NY
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