Laurence Gonzales’s electrifying adventure opens in the jungles of the Congo. Jenny Lowe, a primatologist studying chimpanzees—the bonobos—is running for her life. A civil war has exploded and Jenny is trapped in its crosshairs.
She runs to the camp of a fellow primatologist, but the rebels have already been there. Everyone is dead except a young girl, the daughter of Jenny’s brutally murdered fellow scientist—and competitor.
Jenny and the child flee, Jenny grabbing the notebooks of the primatologist who’s been killed. She brings the girl to Chicago to await the discovery of her relatives. The girl is 15 and lovely—her name is Lucy.
Realizing that the child has no living relatives, Jenny begins to care for her as her own. When she reads the notebooks written by Lucy’s father, she discovers that the adorable, lovely, magical Lucy is the result of an experiment: she is part human, part ape—a hybrid human being.
Laurence Gonzales’s novel grabs you from its opening pages and you stay with it, mesmerized by the shy but fierce, wonderfully winning Lucy.
The book's premise immediately fascinated me. The author has enough ideas/material for at least 3 books, yet he forces it into a single, cursory book. I was extremely disappointed by how little the scientific, philosophical, and ethical issues were discussed.
The lack of character depth surprised me. The author frequently states that character X felt emotion Y, as opposed to allowing characters' actions to speak for themselves. For example, look at Lucy's first human friend, Amanda. Other than being a "teenager", Amanda's only other character trait is "having an alcoholic/absent, possibly abusive, mom". Ultimately, very little happens as conflicts seldom arise, and when they do, they are resolved a few paragraphs or a chapter later, creating no real suspense. I did enjoy the few character vignettes when they actually appeared.
The narrator's point of view is all over the place: mostly Jenny, sometimes Lucy, and once a boardroom full of evil scientists. The omniscient perspective is jumbled, yet limited and topical. A better approach might be for Jenny to narrate a chapter, then Lucy to narrate the next one, reflecting on their shared experiences.
If I had written this book, excepts from Professor Stone's (Lucy's father's) journals would have appeared liberally throughout the entire book, giving insights into Lucy's early life and her relationship with her father. This would have also kept the deceased Prof. Stone active/present in the story. Surely Jenny, researching primates, and Lucy, practicing writing, would also have kept journals at some point; excepts from these would give the characters depth, or at least provide a better place for the author to write "Jenny/Lucy felt loved/lonely/sad/scared/etc." Towards the end of the book, this happens somewhat, but is too late to save it.
Audiobook quality was excellent; top notch, clear narration. Without the narrator, I would not have been able to finish the book. Look for other books narrated by Abby Craden.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
The beginning of this book interested me and I had high hopes but after about the first 1/3 of the book I totally lost interest. It seemed like the author was trying to throw too many plot twists into the mix and none of them really got developed into anything interesting. I almost didn't finish it I was so bored by it, but it was a selection for my book club so I felt obligated to see it through to the end.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?
I thought several times that I knew where the plot was going, then it took a twist. I was very happy with the ending, I didn't see it ahead of time, but it was quite satisfying.
The book was good. I liked the narration. The theme was facinating. He ended the story just when it started to get really interesting. I wanted to know more about Lucy on her own. It can almost be classified as a young adult novel, which I often read and enjoy. Sadly the writer accurately shows how bias and unaccepting society really is.