Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Second Genesis

Second Genesis by Jeffrey Anderson
Penguin, July 2006
massmarket paperback, 371 pages
ISBN-13: 9780515141986

Synopsis from backcover:
Survival is instinct. So is fear.
In a private compound deep in the jungles of the Amazon rain forest, a team of scientists, expert in stem cell engineering, is playing God. With unnerving success. Among them, young biologist Jamie Kendrick is grappling with the implications of the lab's creation - a genetically altered chimpanzee, as intelligent, as soulful, and as sentient as man. It reads. It writes. It reasons. And like man, it hunts.
My thoughts:

Second Genesis was entertaining escapism. It would be a great airplane book. I'll be the first to say that the writing is uneven and illogical jumps seem to take place in the story. The ending is rather abrupt and inconclusive. I thought Anderson did a nice job trying to show the Dr. Frankenstein-like recklessness and arrogance in the scientists secretive genetic modifications of the chimps and addressing the morality and ethics involved in the existence of a human-created sentient creature. While parts of the book are quite intriguing, other parts are lacking.
Recommended - for summer reading fun

Jamie left the commons, kicking a tree root with her boot, and walked toward her research station, built a half mile deeper into the forest.... She had built the entire structure herself 120 feet up on an emergent evergreen tree. It was a fifteen-foot platform lashed in the crook of three sturdy branches. The structure gave her excellent visibility over the lower canopy of the rain forest, including a view of the banks of the Rio Vicioso as it infiltrated the rain forest to join with the Amazon River ten miles downstream. pg. 11

A fence? She looked again. What was a fence doing in the middle of the amazon Jungle?
She picked herself up and limped toward the structure. It wasn't just a fence, but a massive barrier thirty feet high with five feet of barbs at the top that looked as thought they had been lifted out of San Quentin." pg. 13

Slowly, gingerly, the creature emerged from the tree. She completely lost her breath. It was definitely an ape. Anything that big was an Old World Primate.... There was nothing that large in the New World. pg. 16

On the ground, in large block letters facing her, upside down to the chimp, was written, WHO AM I pg. 19

He finally looked her in the eyes, resolutely. "I might consider a limited partnership. I could bring you on as a consulting scientist, and if I see evidence that you can be a team player, have something to offer, your role will expand. I can offer you a small stipend, an office. But this has to be with one condition: this experiment is strictly confidential." pg. 35

And from the acknowledgments:
My editor, Natalee Rosenstein, deserves all credit for turning the manuscript into a beautiful finished project. For all my readers who love a great story but do not spend pleasant nights recapitulating the mathematics of perturbation theory in population strategy spaces for zero-sum games, Natalee is your champion."


Anonymous said...

ok I just want to tell you, I love your rating system. Because "Perfect for summer fun" really does tell me all I need to know about the book, and on what occasion to consider it.
And sometimes perfect for summer fun is EXACTLY what I want - no more and no less.

Lori L said...

Thank you, Dana! You know how much, from time to time, I love my action/adventure thrillers. Good or bad sometimes that is exactly what a person wants to read.