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Read Darwin's Children (2004)

Darwin's Children (2004)

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3.59 of 5 Votes: 5
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0345448367 (ISBN13: 9780345448361)
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Darwin's Children (2004) - Plot & Excerpts

This book is pure emotion.I don’t actually know how I feel about it. There are parts of it that are probably some of my most favourite scenes I have ever read, and I highlighted a whole bunch of shit just because I really really liked the way it was written. And there are a bunch of parts that made me squint my eyes and scratch disapprovingly at my chin. I spent a whole day reading this book practically non-stop and felt like I was loving every minute of it, until I got to the end, where I stepped back and looked at it as a whole and thought to myself “....... I’m not sure that I liked that.”But that’s a Greg Bear novel for me, I suppose. It happens every time.The first book was exhaustively researched and it was a comfortable stretch to believe that the things proposed could happen. This book does not feel quite as tight. The first book spent a lot of time etching out every minute detail, and this one seems to spend a lot of time skimming over those. I’m quite willing to suspend belief for the sake of plot, especially when creating a new species, but learning and behaviour is my pet field of study and I feel like there are some huge holes in the development of the society of the children. Not to mention the religious element that was introduced. It almost feels like the first book was meant to be hard scientific fact and then he wanted the second book to come at it from the other angle to provide contrast, which is a nice idea in theory, but the way it is presented just doesn’t jive with me. I put comments in several places saying “I hope this is explained a little bit better later…” and then I had a moment of hope when Kaye gets all the scans done, but nope, that was just a distraction too, as if it’s trying to explain that there is no explanation so just get over it. It’s like we go from hard facts and figures to watching the book wave its hands spookily and then conclude with “A God did it." (Well. Maybe. Because that's not confirmed either.) Unsatisfying.The time skips are especially bad. I’d be reading almost breathlessly, racing ahead to get to an anticipated point where two plotlines would collide and I could see the result, annnnnnnnddd *poof* 3 years later. That thing happened during those three years and it was cool but we’re past that now and won’t waste any time describing it, thanks. It happened every time and it made me so mad every time. I have to say, I love the way the characters interact in this book. The characters feel so robustly human to me, full of emotions and flaws and character traits, and I loved them. But they spent a lot of time on superficial interactions and leave the bulk of the plot development behind the scenes to be discussed in hindsight while they go about their superficial interactions. I’m not sure how I feel about that. And apart from the main family (Kaye, Mitch, Stella), no one else gets a lot of development. They have their template personality and that's about it. At times there are characters used from previous books that might have been thrown in purely so that there would be a backstory already in place and there would be no need to add further development. It led to a lot of cardboard supporting cast. There are even some characters who felt abandoned. Where are the rest of their stories? Such as:Minor spoiler:(view spoiler)[We skipped entirely over the bit with Stella and Will. Will exists in like, four scenes in this entire book? We start to get to know him and then *poof* 3 years later. Welp, nevermind that now. (hide spoiler)]

'Evolution is no longer just a theoryStella Nova is one of the ‘virus children’, a generation of genetically enhanced babies born a dozen years before to mothers infected with the SHEVA virus.In fact, the children represent the next great evolutionary leap and a new species of human, Homo sapiens novus, but this is officially denied. They’re gentle, charming and persuasive, possessed of remarkable traits. Nevertheless, they are locked up in special schools, quarantined from society, feared and reviled.‘Survival of the fittest’ takes on a new dimension as the children reach puberty. Stella is one of the first find herself attracted to another ‘virus child’ but the authorities are watching and waiting for the opportunity to strike the next blow in their escalating war to preserve ‘humankind’ at any cost.'Blurb from the 2004 HarperCollins paperback edition.The virus children of Bear’s ‘Darwin’s Radio’ are growing up in a terrified world. The children are being rounded up and kept in special schools where they are studied, but not allowed to learn anything which might help them escape.So far Kaye Lang and Mitch have kept their daughter with them by fleeing from town to town. Stella however is keen to meet others of her kind and escapes. This results in her capture and incarceration in one of the isolated schools.Bear sequels in the past have not lived up to the quality of the first instalment and sadly, this is the case here. Despite it being a good solid novel and streets ahead of most of the competition it lacks the tightness and pace of the original. It also includes a rather unnecessary exegesis on the part of Kaye who experiences an encounter with what appears to be God. Unfortunately this never really dovetails into the structure at all and lacks relevance.However it is an exciting examination of Neo-Darwinism and Bear provides an excellent afterword which includes further recommended reading on the subject.Taking the two books as a whole the work can be seen as a Twenty First Century update on Van Vogt’s ‘Slan’ with echoes of ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’. The nature of Bear’s homo superior is very interesting. They communicate on various levels; by scent, colour flashing of the marks on their faces and in a strange two-levelled speech by which more than one meaning or message can be conveyed at once. They form bonded ‘families’ which they call demes and seem to have lost any desire for competitive behaviour, finding co-operation to be a better genetic survival strategy.In context ‘Darwin's Children’ is a post-aids retrovirus-aware work of paranoia, set in a declining USA. Sadly, Bear gives us only brief glimpses of how the virus children are treated elsewhere in the world. An Indian taxi-driver, for instance, at one point talks quite happily of his ‘Shivite’ grand-daughter and of how proud the family are of her.There is an upbeat ending in which society has grudgingly accepted its children and they live in their own communities. More and more Shivites are being born among the general population in waves every few years.It’s hard to see how Bear could get a third novel from this idea but one suspects that there is another story in there somewhere, waiting to be hatched.

What do You think about Darwin's Children (2004)?

Greg Bear's style is clear and engaging, which really works for me. Darwin's Children seemed to have a more surreal feel to it than Darwin's Radio though. He dives into the difficult realm of trying to describe sensations that readers most likely have no analogue to. In that sense, the experience of reading this book less sharp and harder to interpret. Maybe less entertaining, but more thought provoking.There were some things about the book that were a little off for me. I didn't really get what the point of the encounters of the presence of someone else within the self that were woven in with Kaye and some others. Maybe it's a setup for another sequel, but it didn't seem to contribute to this story at all. It also seemed like a lot of characters that were important to the story never got enough detail to solidify much for me. Maybe that's a side effect of the fast-paced style of the book, and that it maybe took me a while to remember much about the characters from the first book.Overall the subject matter is wonderfully interesting and I enjoyed the read, but I wish I had read the version that wasn't edited down removing some of the detail that might have made the story more complete for me. But who knows, maybe those details never existed.

For all its trappings as a thriller that keeps the reader turning the pages this is a deeply researched science fiction tale that speculates upon the social upheaval caused by accelerated evolution. This is the sequel to the equally thrilling _Darwin's Radio_, and it is remarkable how fresh that read felt and how easy it was to get re-engaged with these characters after more than ten years reading that prequel. Taken together, the Darwin novels mix together a heady concoction of speculative biology and political intrigue guided along by a core set of likable characters.

Darwin's Children is the second in the "Darwin" series by Greg Bear. The man has clearly done his research. The first book, Darwin's Radio, (which I have not written about previously) introduces us to the next step in the evolution of man, brought about by the activation of previously dormant sections of DNA resulting in a generation of children unlike those that came before. It's very science-heavy. Close enough to what might actually be possible to stay believable while being exciting enough to keep you reading.The second, then, deals with the role that these new children play/ are forced into in the world and how the world copes with them. It's much more about the relationships between people: familial, political, social, etc. It's very good and VERY frustrating. Bear describes the political and social frenzy with which this children are received in a chillingly realistic (if not idealistic or optimistic) manner that had me, at points, quite angry at the world for reacting in such a way.In falling back form the scientific detail of the first book, I did feel at moments a little... uneducated... which, I suppose, was not entirely unintentional. There were moments when descibing the new children, he left me wanting more detail about how they saw the world, how they interacted. In a sense, though, he was just taking me along for the ride that the rest of the characters in the story were on; and in the end, we find out enough to make me happy, at least.It dabbles a bit in theology this time around, a fact with which I'm not entirely comfortable. It feels almost out of place, the way it's suddenly brought about so late in the game. And even then, it's not dealt with very well, if at all, beyond a sense of "well, shit. this book is about evolution; I should mention God at some point." I'd honestly rather not seen it mentioned at all, than fill a couple chapters and only play a minor role in the plot and development of the characters. I guess it just left me feeling a little disappointed.Despite this, I'd still classify it as a good book. There was a little too much time between reading the first and the second installments for me, and I found it a little hard to jump back into this world (several "Who the hell is this person, again?" moments) and I would definately not recommend it to someone who hasn't read the first one. If you're at all interested in evolution and The Next Step, it's worth a look. Or, you know, you just like a good near-future sci-fi read.

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