- Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books (March 1, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812570065
- ISBN-13: 978-0812570069
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.3 x 6.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 122 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,104,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gray Matter Mass Market Paperback – March 2, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Visceral chills enliven the otherwise predictable path of Braver's second scientific thriller (after Elixir). Uber-yuppie Rachel Whitman worries about the teasing her slow-witted six-year-old son Dylan suffers at the hands of his brilliant playmate Lucinda at the fancy Massachusetts North Shore day care center he attends; worse, she fears that her college drug experimentation caused Dylan's deficiency. Seeing Rachel's distress, Lucinda's mother, Sheila, confides that Lucinda was much like Dylan until she was treated by Dr. Lucius Malenko at his exclusive Nova Children's Center to medically enhance her intelligence. Malenko's other patients include young Julian Watts, who works hours on end making exquisite pointillist paintings and has ground his teeth to nubs; Brendan LaMotte, who has a computer-like memory and deep emotional problems (he fantasizes about killing his grandfather); and Nicole DaFoe, who's sleeping with her history teacher and sabotages her academic rival to secure an important scholarship. Meanwhile, dogged police detective Greg Zakarian obsessively pores over the long-unsolved death of an unidentified little boy, even as another boy is abducted. This convoluted yarn works best when Braver keeps all his storylines in play, but as the plot unfolds, he focuses mostly on Rachel, whose worries about her son's failure to over-achieve make her the most conventional and perhaps least compelling of his characters. Still, he paints a rich tableau of creepy medical details and middle-class status anxiety and pulls off an explosive finale.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The title of Braver's second novel refers to the brain, to be sure, but also to the gray areas of human morality, surgical ethics, and human relationships. Neurologist Lucius Malenko got his start as a researcher in the Ukraine. When Soviet leaders learned of his experiments with mental enhancement in animals, they supported similar work on humans. After he came to the U.S., Malenko worked secretly for the National Security Agency, then set up a children's center in New England to capitalize on well-to-do, well-educated parents' desires to have their average children's IQs enhanced. The enterprise became a goldmine, and Malenko used the profits to set up his "Smart Money Portfolio." Quietly told, carefully censored success stories led more victims into Malenko's trap. Braver's intriguing tale never stumbles; everything in it, no matter how appalling, fits in believably as Malenko lies about personality changes in enhanced children, sets parent against parent, and has potential whistleblowers and kids who "fail" his operations destroyed. Don't be surprised if Gray Matter tops several (nonmedical) charts. William Beatty
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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First the good aspects. This is a fine thriller. I read the whole book in one pass, it was easy to read and I did not want to put it down once I started.
However: Don't expect any sci-fi or deep thinking on this book. There are no "gray" areas. It is revealed almost from the beginning who the bad and the good guys are, and it is as expected. Scenario evolves with only small surprises or unexpected events This can also be seen as good, since the book is realistic. However, the author feels the need to make the bad guys really bad. I will not reveal the plot, but essentially he decides what is "good" and what is evil, and forces his choice on the reader sidestepping any doubt with a device ex machina. For me this is a critical problem of this book - there is nothing I can discuss or gain from it, I feel the same after reading it as I was before.
Or would you?
Gary Braver's Gray Matter explores the question of intelligence enhancement. In our world of clones and genetic manipulation, Braver raises pertinent and scary options, which today are mere science fiction but, who knows - the world is changing so quickly. More importantly, he does so through a great story. Any novel of ideas has to have the architecture that makes the reader want to know "what happens next"? Braver is a master storyteller, and a big thinker. He's been compared to Robin Cook, but Braver is a much better writer. He's out there pushing the envelope. And he has a thing for Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god who sits on my desk as I write this. Ganesha protects and inspires writers, and he's done a fine job helping Braver so far.
Braver's outstanding in tone, characterization, and dialogue in his novels, but he has a way with the language that also makes you stand back and take note as he makes the setting and the Massachutsetts surroundings come to life.
With these skills, he writes, much more successfully than Crichton, of a cutting edge topic of medical science, with the attendant moral and ethical dilemmas raised. The result is a heart-stopping tale that you will find difficult to put down and difficult to forget.
I'm the parent of learning disabled children. How many times have I wished I had a magic wand to "make it all go away" and give them the power to learn and feel good about learning and future in the way that most people have. What would I do to make that happen? I think I would be torn, as heroine Rachel is, at the possibility that I could change my child's life for the positive; and if I pass up my chance to do so, will I regret it? Rachel's son Dylan simply has a low IQ. He's a charming and talented child, but growing up in an upper income area, with the endless pressure that children have to succeed (from upwardly mobile parents); he's at a disadvantage. It's important for parents to NOT get caught up in the academic merry-go-round and the accompanying "enrichment activities" that
high incomes seem to make "de rigueur" for our small children. No one seems to let kids be kids these days.
"Enhancement" surgery - performed by a doctor whose murky past in the Soviet Union makes his specialty almost "believable", is available. But as Rachel begins going down that road, signs that other children who've probably had the surgery are suffering from horrible side-effects, compel her to stop.
But you won't want to stop...at least not until you reach the end of this compelling novel.