Verdict: DIRTY PINK is an intriguing look at the dangerous and painful consequences that result when science is misused for cultural or social ends.
A rash of suicides has erupted around the world, and an odd common theme is emerging – all of the victims are male, they tend to be from religiously or traditionally conservative countries, and they all have skin of an oddly bright pink color, as if they had been dyed. It turns out that the victims were participants in a gene therapy treatment designed to cure their homosexuality – a therapy that not only did not work, but left their skin possibly permanently discolored. The book traces the stories of a number of the affected men, who sought out the therapy (or had it forced upon them) for various reasons – will they be able to find peace with who they are, now that they are marked not only as gay men but as gay men who tried to change?
DIRTY PINK is based on an interesting premise, and the story has immense potential for exploration of social norms, of exposure of “invisible” minorities, of the pressure to conform to societal norms, and the risks of careless scientific meddling in human culture, biology, and sexuality. The science behind the genetic therapy is intriguing, and the lack of oversight in the development, testing, and release of this therapy for human subjects, due to pressure put on the therapy’s developers by religious organizations, is chilling. It would be interesting to see some deeper exploration in the story of the horrified reaction the scientific community at large would undoubtedly have to such an untested, unethical, and thoroughly unscientific, not to mention ineffective, medical treatment procedure. The moral message of the story is as bright and vivid as the characters’ pink skins, and while it is a healthy and loving message, it is sometimes too forcefully and explicitly delivered.
A little more subtlety might, paradoxically, boost its effectiveness. Also, the story tries to cover too many patients in too little space, which has the benefit of providing a wide range of different reactions, from characters with different backgrounds and points of view, but is problematic in that there is not time or room to go into enough depth to make them the complex, living personalities they should be. A more focused, and deeper, approach would likely give the story more profundity and emotional power.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader