Author: Laurence Gonzales
Genre: Fiction – Science fiction
Publication Date: 2010
Purchase Price: $24.95 (hardback)
Happy Halloween, everyone! I thought I’d celebrate this spooky holiday by reviewing a work of fiction that is a bit out of my comfort zone: the thriller.
Primatologist Jenny Lowe is awakened in the middle of the night by gunfire. The African Congo has erupted into civil war, and Jenny has to get out immediately. She makes the several days’ walk to the nearest researcher’s camp: that of her competitor, Dr. Donald Stone.
Upon arriving at Stone’s camp, Jenny discovers that the war has preceded her: everyone in camp has been killed.
But then Jenny discovers a young girl — Stone’s daughter — wailing over the body of a slaughtered ape. She manages to get both herself and the girl, Lucy, to safety, with Dr. Stone’s notebooks in tow.
It is only after Jenny reads Dr. Stone’s notebook that she discovers that her 15 year-old charge is the result of an experiment.
Lucy is half-human, half-ape — a hybrid human being.
Lucy is an amazing read, pulling you in on the first page and not letting go, even after its heart-wrenching conclusion.
Author Laurence Gonzales’ novel is being hailed as “a daring biotechnical thriller in the tradition of Mary Shelley and Michael Crichton.”
And it’s true: the novel reads very much as a re-telling of Mary Shelley’s famous Frankenstein.
However, Lucy is particularly gripping because it is set in our time — instead of reading about experiments on the dead in Victorian England, we’re reading about genetic experiments in modern times*.
Lucy, like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, had no hand in her creation — she did not choose her beginnings, and she cannot choose her own fate.
Covering a wide range of themes from love and hatred, to religion, ethics, and morality, Lucy is a fantastic book that I believe will have even more relevance the more the world’s scientists expand into unknown experimental territory.
Although it was not my typical reading fare, I very much enjoyed Lucy. It was by no means a light or easy read — and it made me wish very fervently that I were a part of a book club. There is a lot of meat on this story’s bones, and I wish I could have enjoyed the meal with others.
I highly recommend Laurence Gonzales’ Lucy. Please read it so I have someone with whom to discuss it in detail!
*Which is why I imagine reading Frankenstein was likely more frightening when it was first published — it was set in contemporary times at that point.
“She knew from her scientific reading that when you repeat in your head the words that someone else has said, your vocal cords move just as that person’s moved when she said those words, a movement as unique as a fingerprint. Thus do those you love hold the strings as if you were a puppet.” (p. 292)
What do you think about biotechnical thrillers? Did you ever read Frankenstein? Do you think a true human-ape hybrid is possible?