Rated Reads


by Laurence Gonzales

Rated: Moderate

Lucy’s father was a primatologist working with bonobos in the forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo. When he and her mother are killed during an uprising, another scientist manages to find Lucy and get them both out of the country safely. Jenny Lowe takes Lucy back to her home in Chicago, where, by looking through the dead scientist’s notebooks, she finds out that Lucy’s dead mother was a bonobo.

Jenny knows that she will have to be very careful and secretive to protect the lovely, bright, and innocent teenage Lucy. But she also knows that keeping the secret of Lucy’s true heritage will eventually become impossible.

In Lucy, we get to meet the human-ape hybrid imagined by Laurence Gonzales. This creation is charming, sweet, extremely intelligent and educated, and super-strong: in other words, mixing the two species has created a super-human, rather than a super-ape. I’m not sure I agree entirely with the logic on this one, but it’s an intriguing idea. The book is mostly engaging and interesting, but the writing style sometimes seems stilted, and it just doesn’t seem to come entirely naturally from the author’s hand. So while it’s an interesting read, in better hands, it might have been fantastic rather than merely satisfactory. Those looking for a Michael Crichton-style book might be of two minds about it: it’s a little reminiscent of his work but not usually a heart-pumping thrill ride. It’s more of an exploration of a possibility than an ethical-scientific thriller. Even so, it’s worth reading.

Rated: Moderate, for one use of strong language and some other uses of mild and moderate language. Some same-sex kissing and a few references to mating and other practices in bonobos. There are a few brief occasions of violence.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • Lucy
  • by Laurence Gonzales
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: