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Eva by Peter Dickinson

Eva (1988)

by Peter Dickinson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This is a futuristic story, set in a time where most large animals have gone extinct in the wild, only existing on film or in zoos. Eva, just thirteen years old, suffers a horrific accident and wakes up after a lengthy coma in the hospital. She's disorientated, confused by strange dreams. She's unable to move, and can hardly speak. At first her parents try to keep her from realizing what's been done to her, but soon she learns that through some freakish advanced medical science, her mind, her very self, has been put into the body of a chimpanzee. Suspend your disbelief and jump into the narrative, and the ensuing story is fascinating.

At first Eva struggles just to make sense of her new experience. How to move her limbs, how to communicate, etc. It's not too difficult for her to accept her new reality, as she grew up among chimps (her father did research work with them). But the fame is another thing. People react to her with pity, or horror, or even trying to turn her situation into a media opportunity. Some want to make her a scientific study, others the pivotal figure for an environmental movement. But she really just wants to find herself, and live fully this new experience. Eva eventually gains access to a compound where chimpanzees are captive, but pretty much lead their own lives. It takes time and patience for her to become accepted by them. Her presence begins to change their behavior. Drawing on primal memories she feels in her dreams, she starts to long for the natural environment chimps used to live in, and begins to incite her primate companions to break out and try to find that way of life again. It's not a move that will be met with acceptance by most of the people that surround her, however.

from the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Jul 11, 2015 |
I read this a long time ago and remember that it left me with a bit of a creepy feeling. ( )
  mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
Exciting sf for young people. Thought-provoking and recommended - but I can't say more for fear of spoiler. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |

I was moved to get this by Jo Walton's review on Tor.com, five years ago I now realise; I had no idea that it was one of Dickinson's best known books *"80% of my mail, almost all of it from the USA, is about this one book"); I know him for The Green Gene and Annerton Pit and Tulku and King and Joker and The Changes (of which I saw the first episode again at Worldcon).

It is a good take on a familiar sfnal theme, of a human mind transplanted into another body - H.L. Gold had his hero transplanted into a dog in 1939, and there's always I Will Fear No Evil, in which a rich man's brain is transplanted into his secretary's body and hilarity ensues. Dickinson's teenage protagonist wakes up to find that to save her life, her parents have transplanted her mind into the body of one of her father's experimental chimpanzees, in a near future world which is facing environmental disaster. She is caught up in the wider politics of what has happened to her, the actual ethics of the operation (and of repeating it) and the intersection of financial and political interests in what happens to the chimpanzees as the research money runs out, and has to find her own way between asserting her humanity and embracing her new chimpanzee nature, including sex and death. Some of it, of course, is a metaphor for growing up, but all of it is rather good, and I'm glad I followed up on this recommendation. ( )
  nwhyte | Oct 5, 2014 |
I first read this over 20 years ago and it's stuck with me ever since. It still has that same deep visceral impact. I suppose that's the mark of a great book. ( )
  bonreads | Jun 11, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Dickinsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woods, DanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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to Jane Goodall
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Eva was lying on her back.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440207665, Mass Market Paperback)

THIRTEEN-YEAR OLD EVA wakes up in the hospital unable to remember anything since the picnic on the beach. Her mother leans over the bed and begins to explain. A traffic accident, a long coma . . .

But there is something, Eva senses, that she’s not being told. There is a price she must pay to be alive at all. What have they done, with their amazing medical techniques, to save her?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

After a terrible accident, a young girl wakes up to discover that she has been given the body of a chimpanzee. The picnic on the beach is Eva's last memory. As she lies in the hospital bed while her mother explains about the accident and the coma, Eva senses there is something they are not telling her--a price she must pay to be alive.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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