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Eleven years have passed since SHEVA, an ancient retrovirus, was discovered in human DNA—a retrovirus that caused mutations in the human genome and heralded the arrival of a new wave of genetically enhanced humans. Now these changed children have reached adolescence . . . and face a world that is outraged about their very existence. For these special youths, possessed of r Eleven years have passed since SHEVA, an ancient retrovirus, was discovered in human DNA—a retrovirus that caused mutations in the human genome and heralded the arrival of a new wave of genetically enhanced humans. Now these changed children have reached adolescence . . . and face a world that is outraged about their very existence. For these special youths, possessed of remarkable, advanced traits that mark a major turning point in human development, are also ticking time bombs harboring hosts of viruses that could exterminate the “old” human race. Fear and hatred of the virus children have made them a persecuted underclass, quarantined by the government in special “schools,” targeted by federally sanctioned bounty hunters, and demonized by hysterical segments of the population. But pockets of resistance have sprung up among those opposed to treating the children like dangerous diseases—and who fear the worst if the government’s draconian measures are carried to their extreme. Scientists Kaye Lang and Mitch Rafelson are part of this small but determined minority. Once at the forefront of the discovery and study of the SHEVA outbreak, they now live as virtual exiles in the Virginia suburbs with their daughter, Stella—a bright, inquisitive virus child who is quickly maturing, straining to break free of the protective world her parents have built around her, and eager to seek out others of her kind. But for all their precautions, Kaye, Mitch, and Stella have not slipped below the government’s radar. The agencies fanatically devoted to segregating and controlling the new-breed children monitor their every move—watching and waiting for the opportunity to strike the next blow in their escalating war to preserve “humankind” at any cost.


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Eleven years have passed since SHEVA, an ancient retrovirus, was discovered in human DNA—a retrovirus that caused mutations in the human genome and heralded the arrival of a new wave of genetically enhanced humans. Now these changed children have reached adolescence . . . and face a world that is outraged about their very existence. For these special youths, possessed of r Eleven years have passed since SHEVA, an ancient retrovirus, was discovered in human DNA—a retrovirus that caused mutations in the human genome and heralded the arrival of a new wave of genetically enhanced humans. Now these changed children have reached adolescence . . . and face a world that is outraged about their very existence. For these special youths, possessed of remarkable, advanced traits that mark a major turning point in human development, are also ticking time bombs harboring hosts of viruses that could exterminate the “old” human race. Fear and hatred of the virus children have made them a persecuted underclass, quarantined by the government in special “schools,” targeted by federally sanctioned bounty hunters, and demonized by hysterical segments of the population. But pockets of resistance have sprung up among those opposed to treating the children like dangerous diseases—and who fear the worst if the government’s draconian measures are carried to their extreme. Scientists Kaye Lang and Mitch Rafelson are part of this small but determined minority. Once at the forefront of the discovery and study of the SHEVA outbreak, they now live as virtual exiles in the Virginia suburbs with their daughter, Stella—a bright, inquisitive virus child who is quickly maturing, straining to break free of the protective world her parents have built around her, and eager to seek out others of her kind. But for all their precautions, Kaye, Mitch, and Stella have not slipped below the government’s radar. The agencies fanatically devoted to segregating and controlling the new-breed children monitor their every move—watching and waiting for the opportunity to strike the next blow in their escalating war to preserve “humankind” at any cost.

30 review for Darwin's Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    This duology (Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children) is what hard SF should be. It takes some really out-there science, in this case biology and evolution, adds a great story and characters you care about, and makes you really think about what could be. As a Christian who loves science and thinks that Christians who deny all evolutionary theory are off-base, I really appreciated that Bear didn't use his story to declare that there is no God and that people who believe in Him are stupid. Instead, This duology (Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children) is what hard SF should be. It takes some really out-there science, in this case biology and evolution, adds a great story and characters you care about, and makes you really think about what could be. As a Christian who loves science and thinks that Christians who deny all evolutionary theory are off-base, I really appreciated that Bear didn't use his story to declare that there is no God and that people who believe in Him are stupid. Instead, he leaves that up to individual interpretation. With the growth of radical atheism, that seems to be rather daring. I really liked his position that an extreme evolutionary shift doesn't mean that the new species of hominid has to usurp the old one. The two can live together once the older species gets over its initial fear. That was pretty cool.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    Darwin's Children was interesting with its deep philosophical questions about what it means to be human, and the author is undoubtedly talented, but I couldn't relate to the characters and I didn't really like the writing style although I liked the book's plot.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Devin

    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 biol 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ireney Berezniak

    Flat characters, flat story, unappealing premise ... the second book of Greg Bear's "Darwin's Radio" series made me question what it was exactly that I enjoyed in his first book. Part 1 of "Darwin's Children" was particularly tedious, and I had contemplated abandoning the read altogether. The drudgery of various legal proceedings and political discourses effectively eliminated any interesting character or story development. I persevered, and the novel improved slightly in parts 2 and 3. Initially Flat characters, flat story, unappealing premise ... the second book of Greg Bear's "Darwin's Radio" series made me question what it was exactly that I enjoyed in his first book. Part 1 of "Darwin's Children" was particularly tedious, and I had contemplated abandoning the read altogether. The drudgery of various legal proceedings and political discourses effectively eliminated any interesting character or story development. I persevered, and the novel improved slightly in parts 2 and 3. Initially, the premise of sudden evolutionary jump instigated by a retrovirus was interesting to me. Perhaps that is the reason that I had enjoyed Darwin's Radio, the first work in the series. However, the result of that sudden evolutionary jump was underwhelming at best, and downright ... disgusting. Yes, the idea of communication through scents does not appeal to me in the slightest. This communication also involves persuasion, most commonly utilized by the new breed of humans to manipulate others. On one occasion, the art of persuasion involves the crumpling of paper, dabbing the resulting ball in some excretion behind the instigator's ear, and tossing that pheromone bomb near the target, while verbally coercing the aforementioned target to the instigator's point of view. Often, the new humans are described as smelling each other, or touching the excreting areas of their bodies and smelling their fingers. Hardly an evolutionary jump ... certain humans today are known to stick their hands under their armpits and enjoy the sensory stimuli afforded by their noses afterwards. I certainly hope that our next evolutionary jump does not regress us to this form of communication, where we smell each others butts to say hello or to ask how our day is going. Theology also finds its way into this novel, particularly towards the second half of the novel, as if thrown in as an afterthought, just before the novel went to the presses. It's awkward, not particularly compelling, and unnecessary. If I was to judge Bear on this work, I would not credit him with mastery in story telling. While it would be unfair for me to say that this book reads more like a scientific dissertation, rather than a literary work of fiction, it does come close. The enjoyment of this title ultimately rests with personal preferences. ib.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Wow. Another excellent book by Greg Bear. This guy writes about hard science in a way that keeps the reader engaged and edified, and writes scenes and characters that really resonate. He's helped in this regard by the fact that I just read Darwin's Radio a few weeks ago, and am still very familiar with the characters and situations he's building upon here. But wow. This book just flows. well though-out, intriguing and beautifully written. Wow. Another excellent book by Greg Bear. This guy writes about hard science in a way that keeps the reader engaged and edified, and writes scenes and characters that really resonate. He's helped in this regard by the fact that I just read Darwin's Radio a few weeks ago, and am still very familiar with the characters and situations he's building upon here. But wow. This book just flows. well though-out, intriguing and beautifully written.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Brabenec

    A seamless continuation of the previous novel "Darwin's Radio". Characterization, dialogue, and mood are strong points in these novels. They are NOT space operas. Point of view is important and Greg gives us the individual's perspective, not an omniscient explanation. The science is well researched, wish I'd discovered the "Primer on Biology" and glossary at the back of the book. Another science fiction novel with a recommended reading list. Humans and post-humans struggle to reach an understandi A seamless continuation of the previous novel "Darwin's Radio". Characterization, dialogue, and mood are strong points in these novels. They are NOT space operas. Point of view is important and Greg gives us the individual's perspective, not an omniscient explanation. The science is well researched, wish I'd discovered the "Primer on Biology" and glossary at the back of the book. Another science fiction novel with a recommended reading list. Humans and post-humans struggle to reach an understanding in the context of the fear that either could be involuntarily breeding contagions that might exterminate the other. Much of the specific plot involves political, scientific, and cultural ramifications of that fear, and tries to answer the question, "What would a panicked government and societal reaction to a potential pandemic really look like in 21st century America?" The science in this novel was pretty deep for me, though when I talked about it with my wife and son they both seemed to know something about eukaryotes and ribosomes. Neither was explained in the glossary to my annoyance. One characteristic of good science fiction is it extrapolates a possible world from current speculative science, then draws logical conclusions about that world that relate back to ours. In this way a whole science fiction novel is just a big metaphor for the world we really inhabit. Greg Bear has created an enormous metaphor here, I haven't even touched on the subplot about paleoanthropology or the principal character who is being visited by God. The metaphor is really about diversity and tolerance, and is very humane. Matter of fact "Darwin's Children" takes humanity to a new level. But my enjoyment of it boils down to individuals in the end. I care about his characters.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Moody

    Darwin's Children is the sequel to Darwin's Radio. As I've found with most sequels, it wasn't quite as good as the original. It was very, very good - it's just that Darwin's Radio was outstanding. This story picks up about 10 years after the first. Stella Nova is a pre-teen, gently rebellious as a result of being isolated from other "new children". The book begins with her running away from home. Much of the story is dedicated to her and her counterparts. Kaye and Christopher Dicken are back, of c Darwin's Children is the sequel to Darwin's Radio. As I've found with most sequels, it wasn't quite as good as the original. It was very, very good - it's just that Darwin's Radio was outstanding. This story picks up about 10 years after the first. Stella Nova is a pre-teen, gently rebellious as a result of being isolated from other "new children". The book begins with her running away from home. Much of the story is dedicated to her and her counterparts. Kaye and Christopher Dicken are back, of course, and their storylines deal with the effect these children will have on society and civilization - from health repercussions to how they will build their own societies. Mitch is digging again, and I found his sections very interesting. Many of the storylines in Darwin's Children are a little underdeveloped, in my opinion. Normally I'm all for a little mystery - I like it when an author will allow the reader to think, rather than spell every last thing out. This time, however, I felt like Bear rushed through a few things. I would have liked to see Mitch's dig, Stella's relationship with Will and the others at the commune and the Mrs. Rhine story played out a bit more. Still, this was an excellent read overall.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Very disappointing. Darwin's Radio was clearly an incomplete book which left me hanging, but the conclusion in Darwin's Children was not as satisfying. The book is told in three sections that each jump ahead a few years. The jumps make the story disjointed and leave cahracter's experience's glossed over and unexplained. The second section, the bulk of the book, had Kaye going from one meeting to anther spouting scientific/biological jargon that did not help me understand anything. Mitch's anthro Very disappointing. Darwin's Radio was clearly an incomplete book which left me hanging, but the conclusion in Darwin's Children was not as satisfying. The book is told in three sections that each jump ahead a few years. The jumps make the story disjointed and leave cahracter's experience's glossed over and unexplained. The second section, the bulk of the book, had Kaye going from one meeting to anther spouting scientific/biological jargon that did not help me understand anything. Mitch's anthrological discovery seemed irrelevent and unrelated to the plot. And I did not care for the mysticism that crept in. Kaye's strange experieince was unexplained and never related to the main plot. Stella's experieinces were most interesting, but they were glossed over and skipped in the jumps forward in time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Calen

    I enjoyed it simply as a conclusion to Darwin's Radio, but it was an awfully long conclusion concerned mostly with humanity's (or at least american's) inability to deal with change and the incredible ineptitude and corruption of our political system, while abandoning, or at least ceasing to elaborate on, the concepts explored in the first. It was a little frustrating that several of the main characters loose ends were never really wrapped up and an unexpected religious element was introduced that I enjoyed it simply as a conclusion to Darwin's Radio, but it was an awfully long conclusion concerned mostly with humanity's (or at least american's) inability to deal with change and the incredible ineptitude and corruption of our political system, while abandoning, or at least ceasing to elaborate on, the concepts explored in the first. It was a little frustrating that several of the main characters loose ends were never really wrapped up and an unexpected religious element was introduced that didn't really add anything aside from the fear that aliens were involved in an otherwise hard science plot. They weren't, but I was ready to throw the book away in an instant if it went that direction.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Roddy Williams

    'Evolution is no longer just a theory Stella 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 r 'Evolution is no longer just a theory Stella 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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This is the sequel to Greg Bear's 1999 Darwin's Radio. It is just as exciting and unique as the first book, if not more. The story opens with Stella, the "virus" daughter of the two scientists from Darwin's Radio, who is now eleven years old and living a highly protected life off the grid with her two parents. Though they have given her the best parenting they cannot give her what she wants most at that age: the freedom to move freely in the world and to have friends her own age. More than a deca This is the sequel to Greg Bear's 1999 Darwin's Radio. It is just as exciting and unique as the first book, if not more. The story opens with Stella, the "virus" daughter of the two scientists from Darwin's Radio, who is now eleven years old and living a highly protected life off the grid with her two parents. Though they have given her the best parenting they cannot give her what she wants most at that age: the freedom to move freely in the world and to have friends her own age. More than a decade after these amazing new children were first being born, the American government still regards them as a dangerous element who could start a plague at any time. Severe legislation, denying these kids any form of human rights, has been put in place. The general public have also been taught to revile and fear what they call the "virus" children. Stella decides to run away and find out about life herself, because her parents have not told her everything and she is intelligent enough to realize this. She is also innocent of how much danger is out there. Her action brings on acute repercussions for all three of them. The rest of the story tells how they each deal with those repercussions. It is heart stopping and while I hoped it would work out in the end, I never knew if it would until the end. Greg Bear's ability to make the results of fear, ignorance, government and financial dishonesty as well as the hunger for power completely realistic, keeps the suspense high. He also teaches us a good deal of cutting edge science and approaches the subject of evolution in its most current stage. He even gets into spiritual questions and makes you wonder how you would react if the newest generation really was an advancement over your own. I recommend reading Darwin's Radio first, if you want to full impact of this volume. Both are great reading.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    As a sequel, I wanted the novel to be everything that Darwin's Radio was: horrifying and hopeful, amazing speculation and memorable characters. What I did get was a pretty cool adventure with a whole new race of humanity trying to adjust with the old species, and the ideas and development were quite good. This one felt more like a regular sci-fi, and unfortunately, it felt like a long epilogue. Taken on it's own, the novel holds up and is fascinating and very enjoyable, memorable characters and a As a sequel, I wanted the novel to be everything that Darwin's Radio was: horrifying and hopeful, amazing speculation and memorable characters. What I did get was a pretty cool adventure with a whole new race of humanity trying to adjust with the old species, and the ideas and development were quite good. This one felt more like a regular sci-fi, and unfortunately, it felt like a long epilogue. Taken on it's own, the novel holds up and is fascinating and very enjoyable, memorable characters and a difficult adjustment. As a follow-up to a very high-class novel, I don't think it quite made it. I still enjoyed it, but I had a problem because my expectations where so high. This is a reader problem, not a novel problem. I suppose I wanted to see the novel go in other directions than it went, or try to one-up the pervading horror that was such a palpable mess in the previous novel. That's neither here nor there. What I do remember was a solid novel that deserves a great rating, even if it doesn't quite match with the one it follows.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tresuiri

    I think this book was better than the first. There is a lot less science in the sequel, and a lot more drama. Unfortunately after a lot of build up and a peak, the other side of the dramatic peak lets off very quickly. I wouldn't say it is a disappointment just that Mr. Bear elected not to flesh out a bit more chapters that he clearly could have. So it is a bit of a jump, but adding those chapters would have made the book a lot longer. As a fluff book to kill commuting time, I would have liked t I think this book was better than the first. There is a lot less science in the sequel, and a lot more drama. Unfortunately after a lot of build up and a peak, the other side of the dramatic peak lets off very quickly. I wouldn't say it is a disappointment just that Mr. Bear elected not to flesh out a bit more chapters that he clearly could have. So it is a bit of a jump, but adding those chapters would have made the book a lot longer. As a fluff book to kill commuting time, I would have liked to have those chapters fleshed out. Mr. Bear certainly puts his main characters through a lot of trouble; I would not characterize this book as a happy read. If you like science fiction drama, you've hit jackpot. I appreciate Mr. Bear sketching out what a quantum leap in evolution might look like for us as humans. True to my belief: we would make it enormously more difficult for ourselves than it need be.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt Shaw

    Closer to 4.5 stars, there are some continuity issues in here, some clunky anthropology, and some overwrought bureaucracy showdowns that keep it from a full 5. Having said that, I very much enjoyed this book. The first book, "Darwin's Radio" was a blast of creativity and a fantastic scenario, while its sequel here really examines the very human aftereffects. It's of interest that, in the face of the SHEVA crisis, Bear writes (in 2002) of an American right-wing administration fanning xenophobia a Closer to 4.5 stars, there are some continuity issues in here, some clunky anthropology, and some overwrought bureaucracy showdowns that keep it from a full 5. Having said that, I very much enjoyed this book. The first book, "Darwin's Radio" was a blast of creativity and a fantastic scenario, while its sequel here really examines the very human aftereffects. It's of interest that, in the face of the SHEVA crisis, Bear writes (in 2002) of an American right-wing administration fanning xenophobia among voters to a fever pitch, children seized from their families and held in detention centers, and a concerted effort to discredit science. Yeah....real far-out SF stuff, right? This is a credible ride for the most part, and well-told.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tomislav

    This is the sequel to Greg Bear's award-winning Darwin's Radio. Mitch and Kate have gone underground with their New daughter Stella Nova, and are living a quiet existence in a rural southeastern part of a US descending slowly into fascism. One day Stella can't stand the isolation any longer and goes out for a walk, only to be caught be a bounty hunter, and the chase is on. The story is set in several segments spread out through Stella's teen-age years, and explores the culture invented by the Ne This is the sequel to Greg Bear's award-winning Darwin's Radio. Mitch and Kate have gone underground with their New daughter Stella Nova, and are living a quiet existence in a rural southeastern part of a US descending slowly into fascism. One day Stella can't stand the isolation any longer and goes out for a walk, only to be caught be a bounty hunter, and the chase is on. The story is set in several segments spread out through Stella's teen-age years, and explores the culture invented by the New children. This is still fascinating reading, but without the scientific drama of the original Darwin's Radio.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mark Heptonstall

    Excellent book. I found it really emotive (having two young children) and thought provoking in many parts. Read it in about three days as I couldn't put it down. I really can't get my head around how Greg Bear can move from hard sci-fi to such a deep technically explained true science based novel such as this. Awesome awe for him!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    it is a tense book. Well written and completely different from anything else I have read (aside from Darwin's Radio, of course).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jane Dugger

    This book is a sequel to "Darwin's Radio." Read both. A very different tale about evolution. I found them very thought provoking.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell

    A re-read. And a bit different than book one. Way more focused on the next generation. And the author makes a bunch of leaps which science certainly hasn't supported at this point. But interesting possibilities. It does get lost in the weeds in multiple directions. But readable. And imaginative extrapolations aren't a bad thing. But not always believable. Certainly got a little lost. 3.5 of 5.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    Not Mr. Bear's finest work. I felt there were a lot of loose ends here. I give him points for something unique and novel but too much science speak and not enough plot.

  21. 5 out of 5

    prcardi

    Storyline: 3/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing Style: 3/5 World: 4/5 I didn't really want to read this. I was somewhat ambivalent about the first in the series, Darwin's Radio, and I really thought I'd have been happier if a sequel had not been written. The first ended with adequate closure, and the thought of a follow-up novel was not in the least enticing. But when a sequel is available I have a hard time saying no. So I read, and I was surprised by what I read. This was one of those rare cases where the Storyline: 3/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing Style: 3/5 World: 4/5 I didn't really want to read this. I was somewhat ambivalent about the first in the series, Darwin's Radio, and I really thought I'd have been happier if a sequel had not been written. The first ended with adequate closure, and the thought of a follow-up novel was not in the least enticing. But when a sequel is available I have a hard time saying no. So I read, and I was surprised by what I read. This was one of those rare cases where the sequel was as good as - and perhaps better than - the original. This too shelves in the medical thriller section alongside books such as Michael Crichton's Andromeda Strain. The "thriller" component was catchy in that adrenaline-suspense-political-maneuvering way of such books. The "medical" part was fun because it was so very different from the type of hard science I usually read. The descriptions of phenotypes and receptor sites were leagues beyond my competencies, but Bear did a great job blending it into and making it a major part of the story. I'm in no way qualified to determine if any of it was sensible or realistic, but I believed it to be so as I was reading. I also liked that the epidemiology lingo was limited to the scientist characters and did not bleed into the narration and description; another area in which he did a good job balancing between hard science fiction and storytelling. At about the halfway point I realized I was reading a dystopia and that I was really enjoying it. Dystopias are great, and that evolution kindled a new enthusiasm for me toward the story and the series. This aspect had the additional bonus of alleviating some of the weaknesses of near-future science fiction books. I could recognize the political parties, politicians, and commentators, and I could see how and why Bear thought they would react given the real prospect of a devastating epidemic. But this political critique, this speculation on the present origins of future dystopia, survived the era of the writing. It is timeless in that there will always be conservative and reactionary elements that lash out in fear. The novel as dystopia, however, washed out as the medical thriller proceeded. The heroes were obviously in the right and the fearmongers were obviously backward and selfish. There were no hard choices for the reader - every decision and alignment was clear-cut with no grey areas to explore or feel uncomfortable with. The path to the end of the novel was a monotonous march to a oneness, togetherness, kumbaya, lets-all-be-friends, progressiveness in which any holdouts are all ignoramuses. There's also an odd and incomplete biological-religious substory that runs through all of this but carries with it the same universalist tone. Both of these elements gave the story a slight overdose of predictability. On the whole, however, Darwin's Chldren was an unexpectedly pleasant read. The highlight of the book was undoubtedly the Shiva children and the worldbuilding associated with them. I don't think I would read a lot from the medical thriller shelf, and I'm not well-read enough to know if this was original, but Bear presented realistically menacing medical and political possibilities that were fun to navigate in a novel.

  22. 4 out of 5

    David

    This novel picks up with the characters from Darwin's Radio several story-years later. One I will say, Bear sure knows how to put the screws to his characters! Their situation continues to worsen through most of the story. Even more than with the first of the series, this novel is a study of how American society suffers a loss of civil rights and degradation of the integrity of its legal and political systems under world-changing stress. As such, it is clear allegory for recent events as well as This novel picks up with the characters from Darwin's Radio several story-years later. One I will say, Bear sure knows how to put the screws to his characters! Their situation continues to worsen through most of the story. Even more than with the first of the series, this novel is a study of how American society suffers a loss of civil rights and degradation of the integrity of its legal and political systems under world-changing stress. As such, it is clear allegory for recent events as well as 20th history. I was also somewhat surprised by the strong spiritual element to enters the story. It is fitting, though, and ultimately tied up in the stories resolution. Recommended for young adults and above. No particularly strong language, violence or sex.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Darwin's Children is not compelling. The characters fall flat in Darwin's Children, just as they did in Darwin's Radio. Darwin's Children is essentially the same characters grown older. They face issues with integrating into society and with government running amok with fear and power; there is no new science introduced and there is nothing novel or compelling about the integration or fear issues (tragic, yes; compelling, no). I think the first book is absolutely worth reading; I would skip Darwi Darwin's Children is not compelling. The characters fall flat in Darwin's Children, just as they did in Darwin's Radio. Darwin's Children is essentially the same characters grown older. They face issues with integrating into society and with government running amok with fear and power; there is no new science introduced and there is nothing novel or compelling about the integration or fear issues (tragic, yes; compelling, no). I think the first book is absolutely worth reading; I would skip Darwin's Children altogether unless you really connected with the characters in the first book and want to find out what happens next.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kae Cheatham

    Second of a series OVER WRITTEN, with pages of conversation that aren't important and characters who could have been left out. The head hopping (jumping of POV) was quite distracting. No flow. I never could relate to anyone. Read it all, as an exercise in determination.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    I was very disappointed with this novel. I found it too long and filled with complex scientific ideas that I really didn't understand. At the end, I found that it made no difference and a simpler story would have been more enjoyable.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Excellent read! I was really on the edge of my seat through many parts of the book. Greg Bear adds such intelligence to his books but in a way that readers new to Sci-Fi can grasp.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Costin Manda

    Darwin's Children comes to continue the story from Darwin's Radio. My general feeling is that this is not a very good book or series. The basic ideas that started it are interesting, although pretty hard to advocate to a scientist, certainly interesting from a literary point of view, giving multiple opportunities for tension, drama, unexpected, etc. Unfortunately, Greg Bear failed to capitalize those ideas, writing a book that has only a few characters that kind of stumble upon the most importan Darwin's Children comes to continue the story from Darwin's Radio. My general feeling is that this is not a very good book or series. The basic ideas that started it are interesting, although pretty hard to advocate to a scientist, certainly interesting from a literary point of view, giving multiple opportunities for tension, drama, unexpected, etc. Unfortunately, Greg Bear failed to capitalize those ideas, writing a book that has only a few characters that kind of stumble upon the most important clues for the book subject; it all happens in the USA, with almost no regard to what could or would have happened elsewhere. In a time of a great crisis, the international situation is put on hold, like every nation would take a time-out and ignore its neighbors. And the style is really not touching any emotional chord whatsoever. Let me summarize: the sudden leap in human evolution is treated by the politicians as a disease, the new species being imprisoned in what could only be described as concentration camps. The entire U.S. democracy and freedom collapses like a giant soap bubble, while the fear of every child bearing family transcends to racism and fascism in no time. The few enlightened people that understand what is going on and try to protect the evolved offspring are also persecuted and under surveillance. So here we have the eternal American obsession with children in distress and terrified families combined with concentration camps for some of their children, racism and civil disobedience, a newly discovered and frightening evolutionary mechanism, cutting edge genetics and archaeology. This could have been a fantastic story! But no, what came out was an impersonal account of hard to believe actions or feelings coming from emotionally stunted characters. And what was worse is that whenever the tension grew and there was a hint of a great thing happening, the author would make a sudden leap in time, after all had already happened, without describing much anyway. Also, Darwin's Children is the last book of the series, while the story (as far as I am concerned) stopped halfway through, with no reasonable conclusion. Bottom line: not worth the time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tagra

    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 stepp 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)] I am so exquisitely torn about the main character too. I loved Kaye. I loved the interactions between Mitch and Kaye. I must have been in the right emotional (hormonal??) state of mind for it because I was more invested in their relationship than I was in the fate of the children, most of the time. I highlighted so many of their scenes together because they felt so real. The scene where Mitch finally snaps and Kaye recognizes how unfair she’s been: “Kaye stood beside the bed and watched Mitch, eyes wide. Her chest felt wrapped in steel bands. She was as frightened as if she had just missed driving them all off a cliff.” That moment when you emerge from your own misery and realize with a shock that it affects other people too and you’ve been a huge selfish ass about it. That is real. But then, I don’t know. She struck me as a near Mary-Sue at first. It’s almost textbook - gifted genius girl who doesn’t recognize how good she is and everyone is in awe of her and everyone wants to fall in love with her oh my. But then she displays real, palpable flaws and it dispels the Mary-Sue threat. I found her to be a realistic depiction of an emotional (and at times irrational) female, but at times she would drop down into a sort of “This is a female being written by a man” template and I’d find it disappointing purely because it was such a contrast to some of her other scenes. It's like she has transitions where she grows as a character and changes her behaviour, and then transitions where suddenly she's just acting sort of different and it seems odd. And then she finds God or something, I don’t fucking know. It felt like a character departure at several points, in this book and the last. Ending spoiler: (view spoiler)[And then I was pissed at the ending. Seriously pissed. I think that means that my ultimate judgement of her is that I like her? I got the impression that the ending was supposed to be hopeful but I guess I’m just not religious enough for that because no, fuck you, give her more time with her family, you fuck. They’ve been through enough! I think I'm angry at how unnecessary that was. The injustice of it. If that was the goal then bra-fucking-vo. (hide spoiler)] I don’t think I could read this again, but I think I’m going to be thinking of the characters over the next few days.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Saul

    Darwin's Children is set in a hellish dystopia where beer does not exist. The unfortunate citizens of this alternate universe suffer frequently through the abject miseries of drinking "Miller", "Coors", "Michelob" and other such. At one point, things start looking up when scientists discover "Becks", which is pretty reasonably identified as beer, though not a very good one. However, things quickly fall apart, resulting in some atrocious crimes against humanity, as the neo-Fascist government sets Darwin's Children is set in a hellish dystopia where beer does not exist. The unfortunate citizens of this alternate universe suffer frequently through the abject miseries of drinking "Miller", "Coors", "Michelob" and other such. At one point, things start looking up when scientists discover "Becks", which is pretty reasonably identified as beer, though not a very good one. However, things quickly fall apart, resulting in some atrocious crimes against humanity, as the neo-Fascist government sets up concentration camps and the characters are forced to imbibe "Bud Lite". The story also charts the precipitous fall of the Lang family over three generations: from professional to Nobel-worthy molecular biologist to knocked-up teenage slut. There's also some stuff about hymens and God that is pretty uncomfortable.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    The concept behind Darwin's Radio (first in series) and Darwin's Children (#2) is clever and provides a good foundation for the two novels. The evolutionary advancement of a set of children unleashes a virus that is deadly for many people. One thing that makes the books drag at times is the detailed explanation of the genetic and viral mechanisms behind the evolutionary change. The analogy that works is that the new children are to the existing humans somewhat like the difference between Neander The concept behind Darwin's Radio (first in series) and Darwin's Children (#2) is clever and provides a good foundation for the two novels. The evolutionary advancement of a set of children unleashes a virus that is deadly for many people. One thing that makes the books drag at times is the detailed explanation of the genetic and viral mechanisms behind the evolutionary change. The analogy that works is that the new children are to the existing humans somewhat like the difference between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens. The new children are killed or rounded up into concentration camp/schools in the US. Only late in the book does this change. I wanted to see how the book ended, but I don't think I will read a third book if it comes out.

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