I'm trying to find the name of a novel that was (what I'll call) light horror sci-fi. It was probably published in the early 90s.

As best as I can remember, the plot goes something like:

  • a child is genetically engineered (prenatally) to be smart
  • when he's very young, his intelligence tests off the charts
  • as he grows up, his intelligence goes back down to normal
  • a bunch of clones are found and (plot twist) it turns out he was faking not being a genius and he's been incubating clones for years

I think there was something malicious about the boy... like maybe he was plotting a new world order.

  • 5
    Read the title and immediately thought of calvin and hobbes :)
    – Jeeter
    Jul 23, 2019 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


This is probably Robin Cook's Mutation.

Victor Frank, and his wife Marsha, are unable to have a second child due to Marsha's infertility. They turn to surrogacy as an alternate method of conception. Victor, an obstetrician-gynaecologist and owner of the biochemical company Chimera Inc., injects the egg implanted in his wife with an agent called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) into chromosome six, which causes the baby to grow more neurons than usual, as a result making them super intelligent. Their son, VJ, is born a genius. He is able to talk in six months and read in thirteen.

Several years later, VJ's brother, David, and nanny, Janice, both die of an unexplainable rare form of liver cancer. At about three, VJ experiences a drop in intelligence, leading Victor to think his experiment is a failure...


One year later, a mother brings in her teenage daughter and her daughter's child to her office. Marsha surmises from the fact that the 18-month child is reading a medical journal, something VJ did, and his ice blue eyes, a trait VJ had, that this child is the "failed" zygote. She decides she will have to go through another VJ-like experience, "with Joe's help and end forever the nightmare her husband had begun".

  • 1
    If so, there's an unaccepted dupe at scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/66217/…
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 23, 2019 at 1:42
  • That's the one, thank you! (I did look around here first but hadn't remembered enough of the plot to find that question.)
    – johncip
    Jul 23, 2019 at 1:54
  • Hahaha you think I'd remember the subplot about him making and selling cocaine...
    – johncip
    Jul 23, 2019 at 1:55
  • 1
    Also... that means it wasn't a young adult novel, and that I was a prose snob even as a kid. Updating the question.
    – johncip
    Jul 23, 2019 at 1:59
  • I read it as a middle schooler myself. :) The whole "mutant" thing was something I was into.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 23, 2019 at 2:13

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