Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review: Lucy

Summary: 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.

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 fifteen 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. -- Knopf

In keeping with attempt to read many of the books for the 2010 EW Summer Books Challenge, I decided to give LUCY by Laurence Gonzales a try. You might already know that I love books about apes, and LUCY is yet another book which references bonobos (that makes three that I've recently read if you're counting.) And Entertainment Weekly Magazine, one of my favorite sources for book recommendations, gave LUCY a raving review -- an A! I had pretty high expectations for this sci-fi novel.

I don't want to say that I was disappointed with LUCY because I did enjoy it; however, I wasn't as "wowed" by this novel as I had hoped -- darn EW! I should probably mention that I'm not a huge fan of science fiction books (except for the occasional Michael Crichton one) so maybe I'm not the best judge of this genre. What I will say is that I absolutely loved the concept of this book and I was very impressed with how the author told this story. I'm not sure why I didn't adore this book, though, because it had all the "makings" of a great read.

Having said that, I flew through this novel and couldn't put it down. Don't get me wrong -- I definitely appreciated this book and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to friends. The story was intriguing and action-packed which should definitely appeal to sci-fi fans, and at the same time, I thought the character of Lucy was pretty well-developed (I absolutely loved her!) so there is a draw for readers who enjoy mainstream fiction. I think what I enjoyed the most about this book was that it made some very insightful commentaries on society and actually made me sit back and think!

I thought the premise was just fantastic! Lucy appears to be a normal 15 year old; however, she is actually a hybrid human -- part human/part bonobo. After escaping from the civil war in the Congo with a female primalologist, she arrives in Chicago and moves in with this virtual stranger. Much of the book is about Lucy's attempts to acclimate herself in the United States as well as with humans. However, the book really begins to get interesting when Lucy's secret is about to be revealed.

Some of my favorite parts of this novel were when Lucy was acclimating to the human world. I thought many of the scenes when she was "discovering" our culture and norms were spot -on. Her reactions to television, in particular, were very funny and actually quite insightful. I also laughed at her interpretation of high school wrestling! I thought Lucy was a remarkably mature (and very intelligent) young woman, and I grew to really like her throughout the story. My only issue with Lucy (and it's a slight one) was her relationship with her best friend. I'm not sure that felt that their interactions reflected a typical teen friendship (although you could say that Lucy wasn't exactly a typical teen.)

LUCY is the first novel that I've read by Laurence Gonzales, and I'd be willing to try some of his other books. I was extremely impressed with Mr. Gonzales writing style which I have to say was a pleasant surprise -- I'm not sure I was expecting such good writing from this type of book. He definitely has a talent for explaining the science in this book in clear, concise terms; however, he also does a fantastic job with character development and his prose is very good. What actually impressed me the most about this author is how believable he made this story -- from Lucy's character, to her adjustment to society, to people's reactions to her. I could just about buy all of it!

LUCY is not exactly many book clubs' typical read (including my own), but I don't see why book clubs shouldn't consider this novel. As I mentioned before, the story is very interesting; and there are tons of things to discuss. There are huge ethical and moral implications in the science aspects of this novel, but there are also many thought-provoking issues about love, family, friendship, loyalty, race, prejudice, and compassion. It's one of those books that not only causes you to look at society as a whole, but also to look inward at yourself.

If you are a fan of science fiction books, adventure stories, or even novels that ask some interesting philosophical questions, then I'm pretty sure that you will enjoy LUCY.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.


Beth F said...

I'm so glad I read this review -- I like the premise enough that I was going to give the book a try, but I am not a sci-fi fan and so was unsure. I think I'll pass.

bermudaonion said...

I'm not much of a sci-fi fan either, so I'm not sure this one's for me. Maybe my guys would like it.

S. Krishna said...

I don't read a lot of sci-fi in books, but I like it in movies and TV, so maybe I'll enjoy this one. It's been sitting on my shelf for awhile, so might as well give it a try!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds so great in theory. I am glad to hear you say you would still recommend it!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have turned to EW's recommendations for years, but they are not always spot on. The idea of a cross between a human and an ape kind of creeps me out...

CGLnyc said...

Aren't we all apes? :)

Thanks for the review - it sounds like something I might enjoy, maybe, depending on the writing, which you liked. So...we'll see.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

There is something compelling about the premise of this one that makes me want to read it!