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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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...)
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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 blood...to 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
#1 HALL OF FAMEon 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2001
I've searched my vocabulary for the right words to describe this work, yet all I can come up with is "FANTASIC!" The journey through this novel was intense, spiritual, uplifting, yet humbling. Rarely do I come across a novel where I can become so utterly emotionally connected to the characters. Seamless narration, wonderfully researched, brilliantly woven, knuckle biting action, and a sense of wonder about our (humanity's) closest living relative. If you do not read this novel, you are missing one heck-of-a tale!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2002
This is the first book I've read by the Gears. Now that I've discovered them, I plan on purchasing many more of their titles. Dark Inheritance is a great adventure story. It's superbly written. The characters are so well fleshed out, I really cared for them. I got so caught up in the exciting story that I regretted having to put it down long enough to catch some sleep.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2005
U.S. scientists try to raise bonobo chimpanzees in their homes - very intelligent, genetically engineered chimpanzees. The smartest is Umber, who shows intelligent that of a human being. When the truth comes out why Umber is so intelligent, she, along with her caretakers, is send to Africa to a specially prepared fascility, where the secrets are being held. What the scientists don't realize is that there are very dark horrors awaiting them there - horros created by humans themselves. Original and entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2012
I absolutley love everything this W. Michael Gear has written. I have read almost all of the books he has written and almost everything he has written with his partner Kathleen O'Neil. I must say that I think I prefer the story lines in the books he has written with his partner, but all of the books are written in a very descriptive way that allows you to see the scene in your mind and makes the character very real. I actually went on line to their web site to find out the names of every every book they have authored either together or separately, and I only have about 10 books to go and I will have read every one of them.
The only issue that keeps this book from getting a 5 star is that it is poorly edited and their are a lot of spelling errors.
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