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Dark Inheritance Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The animal genetic engineering at the heart of this well-constructed novel is hardly a new idea, but the authors (the First North Americans series) use their considerable scientific expertise (he's a physical anthropologist, she's an archeologist) to give it a fresh spin. A huge British pharmaceutical corporation has secretly invested hundreds of millions of pounds in experiments to raise the intelligence level of a species of chimpanzee in Equatorial Guinea. The company has also placed primates with specialists, such as American Jim Dutton, whose bonobo ape Umber is figuratively a sister to his 13-year-old daughter. Umber can't speak human language but understands and communicates both by sign language and with a handheld computer. When Dutton's former wife, a widely known TV investigative reporter, looks into the company as it unexpectedly starts exerting its heavy-handed influence, it's inevitable that their paths will collide. The species-altering gene replacement is as convincing as the danger the heroes ultimately face at an exotic but harrowing African research site. Less persuasive are the tardily revealed reasons for the company's expenditures or the fate of a new species of ape in the human world. That, nor wooden characters and clunky writing, don't stop an exciting, provocative story, however. Agent, Matt Bialer.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-The 21st century meets H. G. Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in this latest venture by the Gears. The length may seem daunting, but a few pages should be enough to capture the attention of most scientific-fiction lovers. Anthropologist Dr. Jim Dutton has raised a Bonobo pygmy chimpanzee for the past 12 years alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Brett, as part of a research project for pharmaceutical giant SAC (Smyth-Archer Chemists). As it turns out, Umber not only knows sign language, but she can also read, speak through a computerized voice synthesizer, and write. Even more alarmingly, she ponders God, her soul, and the consequences of actions. Dutton fudges results to SAC for fear of losing the animal to experimentation if her true abilities were known. Worried, he consults an old friend and colleague to determine why Umber seems so mysteriously human, and those inquiries bring the attention of SAC on his family and friends. In their attempt to keep Umber as part of their family, Dutton, Brett, and her estranged mother (a well-known investigative reporter) end up in Africa, battling for their survival against an insane blue-eyed ape and the greedy director willing to kill to preserve the SAC financial empire and the secrecy of the ape project. The action-packed story is fascinating, but its real value is the questions it poses, including: Does one have to be a "human" to be a "person?"-Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446610968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446610964
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,439,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brooks Onley on December 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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By A Customer on February 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
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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