October 9th, 2008

book magic

Unsung Book Week: EVA

As explained here, I've made this week is Unsung Book Week at my blog. Feel free to join in and share your favorite less-talked-about books, either in the comments or at your own blog.

I mentioned the local library had a small YA section--well, that meant I did a lot of re-reading. And this book, which wasn't quite like anything I'd ever read, was one I kept returning to:

EVA by Peter Dickinson

What it's all about:

The daugher of a zoologist, Eva has grown up with the chimpanzees her father studies, often feeling more at ease with them than with other children. But when a horrible car accident leaves her parents with the choice between trying an experimental procedure and giving her up for dead, she finds she must learn how to *be* a chimp. Her mind, her neuron memory, has been transfered into one of her father's research subjects. Eva gradually adjusts, but the chimp's instincts and memories linger on inside her. How can she stay true to both her humanity and the primates that now are just as much her family?

Why it is awesome:

For starters, talk about an intense situation! Trying to adapt to a completely different body is a tremendous challenge, as Dickinson makes vividly clear. The shades of the chimp's mind that color Eva's are haunting, and her situation both as she's recovering and then dealing with the new expectations placed on her is both uniquely fascinating and portrayed in a completely believable way. But my favorite part is the end. There is no clear happy ending, humans do not triumph over all; rather there is the suggestion that there are things more valuable than humanity, an idea I've seldom seen explored.