Release Date: April 2015
“Abandoned by her husband after the birth of their child, Jane Dixon’s world is defined by her autistic son and the research she does to find a cure for his condition. She knows her work on animal intelligence may hold the key. She also knows that the research will take decades to complete. None of it will ultimately benefit her son.
All that changes when a lab rat named Einstein demonstrates that he can read and write. Just as her research yields results, the U.S. government discovers her program. The army wants to harness her research for its military potential. The CDC wants to shut her down completely. The implications of animal intelligence are too dangerous, particularly when the previously inert virus proves to be highly contagious.
She steals the virus to cure her son, but the government discovers the theft. She must now escape to Canada before the authorities can replace her son’s mental prison with a physical one.”
*** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ***
I was intrigued and fascinated by the general idea of this story from the first time I even read a blurb about it. Animal intelligence is not a common topic in fiction, (at least, not that I’ve encountered), so I was really interested to see the author’s take on it. This story brings up several important ethical questions concerning animals and the way we treat them in modern society. For example, would we treat them the same way if they should signs of increased intelligence? Could we live with ourselves if we ate animals that could read, write, and communicate with us? Would we allow the military to use animals with heightened levels of intelligence? Countless other questions can be raised about this topic, and the answers are complicated and overwhelmingly in the gray area.
Personally, I feel as though a drastic change like this would send many people raging against the American food industry. I’m not even sure where I would stand on the topic, because it would be such an enormous and unexpected change. Anyways, the point I’m trying to make is that the concept behind this book is extremely thought-provoking and worthy of more attention by the media and individuals.
My favorite character in this book is definitely Einstein the rat, who is Jane’s original successful test subject. He can communicate via texting on a phone, and he is so sassy and funny! His humor was greatly appreciated, as was the tough personality of Bear, the “sapient” dog. The author doesn’t quite personify them because they still have the thought processes of the animals. However, their minds work at a more rapid pace and they are able to understand and even communicate with humans. Several chapters are written from the perspective of Bear, and it’s really interesting to view the world from his eyes.
My opinions are not so clear about Jane, however. Although I respect Jane for her great courage in standing up for what she believes in and never giving up, there were times when I wished she would just look at the bigger picture. Spontaneously spreading animal intelligence throughout society would undoubtedly have had many serious negative consequences, but she never seemed to consider them. Instead, she was blinded by her desire for Robbie (her autistic son) to live a normal life that benefits from her work. It was frustrating to watch Jane abandon help and common sense for quite selfish reasons. I’m sure most people (myself included) would behave similarly if they were caught in a dilemma (family comes first, not the wishes of the government) but that doesn’t mean it’s always the most enjoyable thing to read about.
Moreover, I would have liked the pacing of the plot to be more steady. The beginning and ending were really fast-paced and exciting, but the middle lacked a similar amount of momentum. It felt like the story was dragging on a bit because I was just waiting for Jane or the government to make a decision first. Perhaps if so many different places had not been involved, then it would have made the pacing seem more even.
Overall, Sapient was a solid read for me. The science behind it was fascinating and the story itself was remarkably unique, but I think some improvements could have been made to the way it is written. Nevertheless, it surely is a worthwhile and entertaining novel!
Thanks so much to Book Publicity Services and Jerry Kaczmarowski for giving me the opportunity to review this book!
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) 3 out of 5 smileys. Solid!
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes, especially one who is interested in animals, scientific theories, or science fiction in general.
Have you read this book before? What did you think of it? What are your thoughts regarding animal intelligence or our treatment of animals in general? Let me know in the comments section below!