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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on May 8, 2004
I agree with most of the earlier reviews - good and bad. Is it a rip off of Michael Crichton's Congo as well as Robin Cook? Heck yeah. But does that make it bad? Nope. It's a well-written rip-off and certainly entertaining.
I bought this at a lame used book store just for something to read. I had zero expectations and would not have been surprised in the least had it turned out to be sucky. The characters were very real to the point that I was able to read a situation and know each character well enough to know how he or she would react.
A *big* failing of this book was grammar. There are several points within the book that the tense of the story changes - without meaning or explaination. The sentences go from "He walked... and he saw..." to "He walks... and he sees..." I cannot stress how annoying this was. It was like a giant neon sign saying "HEY! We've got two authors here! And yes, they write alone sometimes!" I could understand this short-coming if it were, say, a dream sequence or a flash back or a separate story within the story. But no. Just bad form. It's things like that that tend to rip me right out of my excapist fanasy and right into proof-reading mode. I'm not sure if all of their works have this horrifying flaw since this is the first one I've had the pleasure of reading, but the authors *really* need to work on this.
All in all? Run to it.
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on March 15, 2004
To summarize, the book tells the story of an English drug company's project to create genetically enhanced bonobos so that the species will have a better chance of survival and escape extinction.
To review, there's nothing to like in this book. More than half the characters are either totally disgusting, or stupid beyond belief. We have a spoiled, obsessed with sex thirteen year-old girl, a mother who abandoned her daughter to pursue her career, profit driven "hunters"/ poachers, and a colossal group of idiots pouring money, a good deal of which is obtained illegally, into an impractical, doomed-from-the-start endeavor. Even the scientific ideas become boring.
In regards to the emotional relationship between Brett (the spoiled girl) and her "sister"(Umber-one of the genetically enhanced bonobos), that feature disintegrates almost instantly due to continual overdone emotional yakking by almost every main character in the story.
If you do want to read about ape genetic engineering then look at Robin Cook's "Chromosome 6." D.I. is a complete rip-off of the latter and Cook's work is infinitely better in every detail.
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on November 12, 2003
Even though the technological terminology makes this book challenging, I found Dark Inheritance by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear to be an excellent read. Never before have I found myself so completely engrossed in a book. Reading Dark Inheritance was a heart-pounding thrill ride with suspense and surprise at every twist and turn of the author's journey.
Jim Dutton and his two daughters embark on a harrowing flight from the powerful SAC Corporation Determined to keep it's lucrative animal testing program hidden from the public. Jim's problems begin when he becomes attached to a bonobo chimp named Umber that he is given by the SAC Corporation for research. After twelve years of working with her, Jim not only feels that Umber is his own child, he also realizes there is something extraordinary about her. She is to smart.
When Jim begins to investigate, the SAC Corp. steps in and orders him to come to Africa. When strange and murderous things begin to happen at the SAC Corp. compound, Jim must enlist the help of a reporter to get his family home alive.
Dark Inheritance has a hauntingly plausible story line. The book explores capitalism's reign in the face of cutting edge medical achievements and the ethical choices that follow. The reader should expect interesting facts accompanied by graphic violence. Only the most daring readers will enjoy such a combination of exotic and grotesque novel. Parts of this book had me shaking with fear and others had me crying.
Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was the author's portrayal of Africa. The informative description of the jungle really made me feel as if I were there with the moist hot air all around. Being taken away to an unknown world where danger lurks in the shadows proved to be a refreshing escape.
Most enjoyable to me however were the characters. Umber, the bonobo is so much like a human that several times, I found I had to remind myself that she was a Chimpanzee. The characters in this book display so much courage and such a strong family bond that I couldn't help but feel an emotional attachment to them. The last page of this book was extremely sad because I felt that I was losing friends.
For all of these reasons, Dark Inheritance is the best book I have ever read. Never have I been so engrossed and felt so many emotions while reading a book. This is definitely one that I had a hard time letting go and was upset to see the end of. I highly recommend Dark Inheritance and look forward to starting the next novel that Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear publish.
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on May 22, 2003
I'm not sure what it is about this book. I've been picking it up and putting it down for a year now.
The concept is interesting: a selection of apes genetically engineered to be, as far as I can tell, on par with human intelligence. The writing itself, in my opinion, is pretty good. I like the prose.
And yet I am not compelled to finish the darn thing. I'm writing this review without having made it more than half-way through. That, in itself, is saying something. It's the best review I can give. I mean, if you can't finish a book. . .!
Oddly, I like the main characters. Jim is interesting, and his precocious daughter, Brett, is neat. Her sisterly relationship with the ape is well-done. So, yes, I love the bonobo, Umber, too, and I like how all of the "monkey" point of view scenes are written in present tense.
Maybe the central conflict isn't clear enough for me. From the start, I found myself a little bored. The novel begins with a prologue that absolutely did not intrigue me. "God, let's just get through this," I thought. The various points of view kept startling me out of the fictional setting. I found myself skim-reading, waiting to get back to Umber and her human family. I wanted to know only about them.
Maybe I'll finish it, I don't know. But despite the book's strengths, I can only give it two stars.
Again, I haven't finished Dark Inheritance. I hope that fact doesn't weaken this review too much. There are plenty of other reviews to help guide you, most of them positive. This has simply been my experience.
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on July 14, 2002
Dark Inheritance is a wonderfully written and developed novel, with credible and likeable characters. The Gears only write melodramas, and this is no exception - it's a given in their novels that the good guys will come out on top, and the bad guys will be hoist on one or another of their own petards. Dark Inheritance reads better than their Native Americans series, though, probably because it plays with far more interesting topics.
The plot is a credible prequel to Planet of the Apes: Smyth-Archer Chemists corporation in England has been tinkering with hybridizing ape and human DNA, resulting in twenty bonobo chimps with all but human brains. These animals are cared for and monitored in differing human family environments, each caretaker of one of the bonobos kept largely unaware of the others.
Anthropology teacher Jim Dutton is one of the caretakers. He has raised his female bonobo, Umber, since birth, alongside his own daughter, Brett. Both "girls" now, at age thirteen, are virtually sisters, and Umber is an intelligent and communicative member of the family - which causes considerable distress when Smyth-Archer wants Umber back.
Dutton and his daughter compromise with the corporation by accompanying Umber to one of their research facilities in Africa, where they soon learn that Smyth-Archer's experiments have not all turned out as well as Umber. A number of escaped chimpanzees from Compound D have been at large for some weeks. Not only are they developing civilized building and toolmaking skills, but they even show evidence of spiritual awareness. They're frighteningly organized. And they're not exactly peaceful...
This is a terrifically involving and satisfying read, which examines fairly well the moral and ethical questions of DNA tinkering, evolution, the psycho-social similarities and differences between humans and simians, and compatibility of species, among other things. It's intelligent, and engaging.
Highly recommended.
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on December 24, 2001
Though I went into the book with the thought 'Jurassic Park re-vamp', I decided to give it a chance any way. Besides, I'm a sucker for a good techno-thriller, and most take some time to get all of the relevant details in order for the plot to work (as does this story--probably the first third of the book!).
I can't say that "Dark Inheritance" ever took off the way I was hoping it would.
Admittedly, it was a good try; there's definitely something here worth working with. But the characters seemed cliche, more like simple foils than real people; there was no *life* there! And there were no surprises--once the main characters had been stirred in, seasoned to taste with the proper bit of background info and plot-centered jargon, the mix was poured straight into the mold, with no doubts as to outcome.
Overall, an OK read as a distraction, but not really for those looking for deep characters or enthralling storyline.
As an aside, I must mention something that, in light of this review, may seem a tad minor, but nonetheless rankled my sensibilities as a student of biology. Page 119:
"Jim, we don't know for sure that she's a human-bonobo cross."
"She can't be," he protested. "Humans and apes can't interbreed. Apes have twenty-four pairs of chromosomes. Humans have twenty-three. Somwhere in our past, two ape chromosomes merged into a single human chromosome. That number two chromosome makes interbreeding impossible. Assuming a human sperm met an ape ovum, that chromosomal difference would create nonviability at the first mitosis."
Which is not necessarily the case, as Mr. Gear, being a physical anthropologist, should be well aware. Gibbons (lesser apes) of distinct evolutionary lineages (and widely varying chromosome counts) have been know to produce viable (though infertile) offspring. The same is true in the case of the mule (whose parents, the ass and the horse, also differ in number of chromosomes). Hybrids of differing chromosomal counts mix and match all the time. They just can't reproduce (which might have been what the Gears were grasping for here.)
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on March 16, 2001
Jim Dutton, his teenage daughter Brett, and Umber, a bonobo ape, are a family. Jim has spent his life's work researching bonobo apes, for SAC, a mysterious research company.
When someone from his past brings to light that certain bonobo's being researched DO NOT carry the normal characteristic's of their species, an investigation is opened.
Jim, intrigued by this information, will end up at an african research facility where he, along with his daughter, and Umber, will find strange things, such as rooms filled with bones, mutilated bodies, and a genetically-manipulated race of enemies driven by kill.
Sounds good? I thought so too, but the book took too long before anything really happened. The first couple of chapters are interesting; setting up the plot, character development, and several murders, but after those chapters, the novel becomes tiresome, with page after page of technical jargin, and the introduction of too many characters. This novel clocks in at (around) 500 pages, if it was shortened to about 350, it would have been excellent.
Genetic altering is always interesting in a thriller, but it takes the careful hand of an author to construct it to be easy-to-understand, fast-paced, and fun to read, "Dark Inheritance" fails on all counts. What could have been an entertaining read, becomes tedious, and much too long. Newcomers to this genre may find it interesting, but fans of this type of fiction will be disappointed.........
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on February 24, 2001
After thirteen years of living with Umber the bonobo ape, Jim Dutton feels the primate is part of his family, a sister to his human daughter Brett. Umber communicates with his family through computers and sign language. Over the years, Umber has developed a distinct personality with a sense of humor and a bit of flamboyance.
Two events shatter Jim's complacent world. He learns that Umber's owners Smyth-Archer Chemists somehow changed and enhanced his "child" and other bonobo apes into something more human than ape. Worse than accepting that revelation, SAC demands he return Umber to them. Rather than meekly handing Umber over, Jim, accompanied by his two children, travels to Africa where SAC has a facility allegedly helping endangered species. Once Jim realizes the true objective of this remote site, he knows he places himself and his charges in danger from a corporate group that will do anything for silence to prevail.
DARK INHERITANCE is an exciting genetic engineering tale that never eases up on the throttle. The story line is fast-paced and refreshing, especially the scientific and investigative aspects of the plot that is not just anther Moreau rehash. The Duttons are a warm, heroic family who readers will hope that SAC fails in their efforts to break them up. Though SAC's vision seems myopic, W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear provide a smart, spry splicing of the gene pool story.

Harriet Klausner
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on June 7, 2002
Granted this book piqued my interest. I found myself sucked into it, lock, stock & barrel. It reminded me of a cross between Jurassic Park and Congo. Like in Congo you found yourself liking Amy (primate) and in Dark Inheritance you really do like Umber (primate). Her character had a childlike quality that endeared her to the reader.
Normally I love duo writing teams. They each bring something new to the mix. But this wasn't the case. I had hard time adjusting to the different style of writing each author brought. In the best writing teams (Preston/Childs)you can't decipher that two authors are writing the same book. In this particular book it was obvious. It just didn't flow. But overall I enjoyed it for what it was, a cheesy adventure tale to brighten up an afternoon.
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on June 2, 2003
Being a fan of Bonobos, I was sorely disappointed with the Gear's book. The writing was two-dimensional starting with a head to toe description of all the characters as they appeared, and ending with a decided LACK of scientific information, which surprised me. Nothing was mentioned of matriarchal, sexually open Bonobo society being far more peaceful than Pan Troglodytes', or even of the differences between the two types of chimps at a basic level. No explanation was given as to "how" they genetically altered the chimps, other than vague references of blue eyed mother chimps nursing babies and conversing in AMESLAN. All in all, it was flat. Passable as brain candy if there's nothing else to do.
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