The Sum of Her Parts by Alan Dean Foster
Published November 27th, 2012 by Del Rey (a subsidiary of Random House Publishing Group)
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Cover image and synopsis provided by the publisher.
In this thrilling science fiction adventure-the triumphant conclusion to the Tipping Point trilogy-New York Times bestselling author Alan Dean Foster returns to a near future in which genetic manipulation and extreme body modification have changed profoundly what it means to be human.
Dr. Ingrid Seastrom was once a respected American physician. Whispr, whose body has been transformed to preternatural thinness, was once a streetwise thief. Now, in a world on the edge of catastrophe from centuries of environmental exploitation, they are allies-thrust together by fate to unravel an impossible mystery-even as they are stalked by a relentless killer.
Ingrid and Whispr are hunted fugitives bound together by a thread: a data-storage thread made of a material that cannot exist, yet somehow does. Their quest to learn its secrets-and, in Whispr’s case, sell them to the highest bidder-has brought them to South Africa’s treacherous Namib desert. Beyond its dangers waits a heavily guarded research facility that promises answers, if they can survive long enough to get there. But that won’t be easy, not with Napun Molé on their trail. They’ve already escaped the assassin twice, and as far as Molé is concerned, finishing them off isn’t just a job anymore . . . it’s personal.
This has been a difficult book to rate. Once again I find myself torn in between a not so good two stars and a very good four stars, which ultimately leads to the conclusion that three stars is the most accurate. I had an interesting journey with this book and it made it difficult to form my thoughts on this. Now I will share that journey with you. Now, to start, I do want to point out that this is the conclusion to a trilogy. I did not know this when I received the book for review and I have not read the previous two books.
Not reading the prior books led me to my first problem with this book. In the entirety of the novel there is literally no recap of the major characters or plot points in the previous books. For dedicated readers that might not be a big deal, but for a reader who may have forgotten or a new reader to the book this is vital. I was thrust into a world with its own language, its own geography, its own rules and I had nothing to guide me in that world. When a character would say something like, “Remember what happened in X?” And all I could think was, no I don’t please tell me. But I never got told. Certain things I stumbled through and figured out, like that manip meant a body modification procedure. Or gengineering was genetic engineering. But all I knew of the plot was that Whispr got his hands on a data thread and went to Ingrid for help deciphering it. This led them on a journey to a very dangerous place to try to find out what was on the data thread, and for some reason an assassin was hired to get the thread back and eliminate them. The why, how, and when of all this I have no idea.
However, even without any recap of the prior books, I found myself drawn in. The characters were very well crafted and enjoyable to read. Whispr made me laugh and quite frankly was often the voice of reason when Ingrid had me rolling my eyes at her naivety. I was drawn into their journey and even though I didn’t know why this data thread was important I was rooting for them to figure it out successfully. I loved this story! I was so enthralled with it that I no longer cared about my initial confusion. I loved this world and the people in it. I got shivers when the bad guys showed up, and I laughed at the absurdity of some of the happenings. I mean, come on, how can you not giggle at murderous genetically modified sentient meerkats? That’s hilariously creative! I fact, I think the meerkats might have been my favorite characters! I enjoyed this story so much that I was preparing my purchase of the first two books so that I could read the entire journey. And then I got to the ending and I was no longer sure that I wanted to read the entire journey.
The ending of this book made me feel incredibly ripped off and like I wasted my time. At first it was alright because it was just Ingrid being an idiot, Whispr had always been my favorite anyway and he still kept his brains about him. I was so angry that they figure out this mystery they have risked their lives for and then….just threw their hands in the air and went “okay, we’ll go with that.” No, no and no! Then Whispr fell into it too! I was so angry and I felt like I had just read all this for nothing. If I was a dedicated reader of the entire trilogy I would have been severely disappointed that it all ended that way. So for that reason, I don’t think I want to read the rest of the trilogy knowing that it ends so badly. Luckily this book had enough good things in the middle to keep me relatively happy with the story in general. And so I write this review torn, disappointed, and yet still vaguely amused by those meerkats.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Del Rey!