BONUS AUDIO: Author Robert J. Sawyer reveals the "secret history" of The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy.
Hunt and gather: listen to more in the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy.
©2003 by Robert J. Sawyer; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
"The genre's northern star - in fact, one of the hottest SF writers anywhere." (Maclean's)
Before this book, and to some degree before this series in general, I'd have said yes. I like some of their other books, but this was simply terrible. It fails in so many ways.
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
Sigh... there were some OK parts, sections of the book that touch on science fiction. It all seems so forced though; those parts of the book were contrived and inexpertly jammed into a very bad story arc. It makes even the better scene's somehow feel outside the story.
So disappointing; I'm not so much bitter, but just incredibly disappointed. This really isn't worth your time. This is the first negative review I've written in over 100+ books.
I liked the first book in this series a lot. The second one wasn't as good, but I still liked it. I was hoping that this book would redeem the second, but I thought it was terrible! I had to make myself finish it. There are so many things that were bad it's hard to know where to begin and I certainly can't list them all. The main female character, Mary, is often unreasonably bitchy and childish while the main male character (a neanderthal) is always calming her and being understanding of her petulance- it makes them both kind of boring. The writing was weak, there was hardly any character development. Well, we do learn that Mary seems to be quite the Star Trek devotee, several times connecting something in the story with a Star Trek episode - she knew the names of guest stars and who had directed. Perhaps Mr. Sawyer needed some filler and so he took from his own fanatical knowledge? According to the book, Americans are repugnant, there aren't very many American characters and none of them are good people. Throughout the series neaderthals are portrayed as having taken much better care of their world while we "gliksins" have ruined ours, which we have, no arguement there. But at one point the author compares neanderthals to Canadians and gliksins to Americans. Ok I get it, he hates Americans. Next sentence contains a spoiler: He also doesn't seem too keen on men (homo sapiens that is), so it's no surprise that the big villain in the book is an American male. Lazy, boring writing and I didn't like the narration either. Too bad, it started out as such a promising series.
This first book in this series was very good. I love books about alternate timelines and this story about an alternate universe with Neanderthals as the dominant species was a great premise. However, the second and third books give up the science fiction and become social commentary books. In both the second and third installments are long dialogs about what I assume to be the author's pet peeves. Among the things the author seems to dislike are Americans, males, religions (especially Catholocism), conservative viewpoints, and personal ownership of vehicles and property, to name a few. His likes are women, Canadians, gays, lesbians, athiests, and environmentalists. SPOILER ALERT He also seems to come down heavily in favor of castrating rapists, which fits into his "woman are good, men are bad" mantra that he cyles over and over and over in his second and third installment. END SPOILER ALERT.
Unfortunately, even if you agree with his viewpoints, his story is boring. There is not enough action, far too much commentary, and the main character, Mary, while competent in the first book, becomes shallow and vapid as the series progresses.
I was charmed by the first book in the series. I too had problems with the second book. I did however pursue it to the end. The third book only maintained my attention for three chapters and I was finished.
Not quite what I expected. The novel was fraught with plots that it wasn't very clear to me what was important and was minutia. If there was an overall message intended to be delivered, it was lost on me. At best, the combination of love story, social commentary, and ecothriller felt like multiple stories weaved with naive preaching to me.
If the sub-plots were to be thought of as episodes in a series, then I think it would more enjoyable as the plotlines can be compartmentalized yet run through. The entirety of the book was marred with uneven pacing between action and exposition towards the end.
Sawyer explains in an interview that Planet of the Apes was the inspiration for this trilogy, insofar as it used sic-fi to investigate then contemporary moral and political issues. I can definitely see the connection, but this investigation ends up being too didactic and simplistic for my taste. Pretty clear sense of good and bad and all that comes with that.
I enjoyed the first book in the series, and felt the second was OK, but was unable to finish the third, Trite character development, petty dialogue and predictable story line, made me stop the book by half way. Save your credits.
Let your imagination carry you to a world based upon...hunting/gathering, a stable population, the rhythm method (don't frown, they have lots of sex), long term contribution to society, experience prized over strength, science moves forward thru cooperation and without prejudices, violence is not tolerated, crime is very rare yet there is tremendous freedom for all, all life is precious, a very green world. Wait, don't think this is utopia; there are problems, big ones; but what interesting notions thru which to examine our own world. These books examine many foundational ideas/beliefs/principles that we take for granted; stand them on their heads and paints one (of the many possible) picture of what may fall out. The narration is excellent; distinct character voices, perfect pace, and precise pauses to let your mind extrapolate on the image/ideas. I have never written a review but was compelled to write this to give some balance to the reviews of this great trilogy. I agree Hominids was the best and I give it 4.4 stars with Humans and Hybrids close behind with 3.8 stars each (of course I have to fit into the !format! given and round all to 4); but they should really be all taken together as a whole. It probably would have been a really great but long single book. But I understand Sawyer has to pay his bills (and I want him to eat so he writes more books) also there is some suspense in breaking up a good tale. Lastly I have been listening to audio books for over 25 years and what you will enjoy is very personal, highly dependent on where you've been, where you are in life and what happened yesterday and today. So take all the reviews with a bucket of salt; listen/read to lots of different authors/narrators/genre/old books/new books/fiction/nonfiction and determine for yourself what You like/believe/and want to expand upon.
I've always been interested in Evolution and have enjoyed fiction focusing on Neanderthals and our relationship with them way back when. I really debated whether or not to take a chance on these books (I'm half way thru the 2nd book, Humans, as I type) and I'm so glad I did. I love the actual science and feel like I'm learning so much. I love the characters too. Ponter and Mary are carrying the story so well. This idea of what could have happened or might still happen has me "thinking" so much about religion and politics and life in general. I love it when a book makes me think like this. Can't wait to finish Humans and then start on Hybrid. This author, Mr. Sawyer, must be one fascinating MIND.
Bottom line is... Go for it! Take a chance. Not many will regret the opportunity to think outside the box. It's really a treat to be so entertained while learning so much.
the finale of Ponter and Mary's story is just right - not over done and not lacking. I appreciate the theory and morality perspectives involved in this and other books.
"Overall a let down"
So as this is the final in the Hybrids series I was really disappointed in this. The main thing that got me was the change in the main character Mary Vaughan. She changed for this open scientific minded person to this judgemental person. Simple examples are how she wanted her views to be taken as fact by Ponter which looking down on his life style. I felt this was only written to give extra pages to the book and this simply didn't fit into what I had learnt about the characters over the 2 pervious books. Sadly this really made the book impossible to connect with. I found the first 2 great works and would have been happier if I had left it there.
I do still recommend books 1 and 2. This was sadly I can not
I found that other Robert J. Sawyer books where better. Books one and two of this series are great and the WWW series is a huge highlight
disappointment in the sudden changes in the characters just to fill the pages as it didn't feel true to what I had learnt of them
Great performance by the cast, let down by the writing
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