Most helpful critical review
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Intriguing idea, disappointing follow-through.
on December 24, 2001
Though I went into the book with the thought 'Jurassic Park/Congo re-vamp', I decided to give it a chance any way. Besides, I'm a sucker for a good techno-thriller, and most books of this genre tend to take some time to get all of the relevant plot details in order (as does this story--probably the first third of the book, as a matter of fact). But 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. The ape character Umber is likeable enough. But most of the characters seem 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 few doubts as to outcome.
Overall, "Dark Inheritance" is an OK read as a distraction, but not really for those looking for deep characters or an enthralling storyline.
As an aside, I must mention something that in light of the remainder of this review may seem a tad minor, but nonetheless rankled my sensibilities as a student of biology. From 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 aware. Gibbons ('lesser apes') of distinct evolutionary lineages (and widely varying chromosome counts) have been know to produce viable (though infertile) offspring together, especially in captivity. 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 aren't known for reproduction. (This may be what the Gears were grasping for...)