Phoebe's Reviews > Eve & Adam

Eve & Adam by Michael  Grant
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's review
Sep 07, 12

bookshelves: intergalactic-academy-reviews, loved-it, sci-fi
Read from September 05 to 07, 2012

Full review at The Intergalactic Academy (we're giving away a copy, too, so hop on over!)

If you’ve been following the Intergalactic Academy, then you know that we’re fans of KA Applegate. To date, Sean has recapped over half of her classic YA sci-fi series Animorphs. Animorphs was, in fact, one of the first things we bonded over–on the AbsoluteWrite forums, we talked about how we loved this dark contemporary space opera and how badly we wished someone would bring that magic back.

So I was very excited to pick up Eve & Adam, a collaboration between Katherine Applegate and her husband Michael (who also helped her out on Animorphs, rumor has it). But based on the premise, my expectations were not particularly high. On the surface, Eve & Adam is not dissimilar to many other YA sci-fi titles out there today. In fact, the focus on genetic engineering, artificial men, and evil corporations is fairly run of the mill.

But what distinguishes Eve & Adam is, really, what has always distinguished Applegate’s work. Don’t get me wrong; this is not a particularly deep book. It certainly isn’t literary. Told in the alternating viewpoints of Eve Spiker, daughter of an evil corporate head, and Solo Plissken, Eve’s mother’s ward, Eve & Adam tells an action-oriented story about how Eve is summoned home after an accident to start designing simulated people at her mother’s corporation–and how Solo tries to intervene, bringing the corporation crashing down. It is extremely–deliciously, I’d say–fast-paced, with chase scenes and dramatic kisses. It’s a commercial novel, through and through.

As were the Animorphs novels, of course. Those packaged titles were just-as-often written by ghostwriters. They featured a strong commercial hook, frequent battle scenes, slightly corny humor, and mildly embarrassing covers. But the Animorphs series was transcendent because of its strength of character, darkness, and nuance. Our heroes were strongly rendered from the outset, distinctive and realistic. The novels trended very dark by the end, and the arguments they made–about war, about heroism–were always complex. This was not a universe of black and white, simplistic morality.

All of these elements are present in Eve & Adam, which is precisely what makes it so great.

Take the characters: Solo Plissken is a teenage boy who is aching to be a hero; in order to do so, he needs to destroy the bitchy woman who owns his life. Solo’s chapters are liberally scattered with wry humor and accurate teenage diction (cursing!). Evening Spiker is a mildly nerdy girl who is not quite sure what she wants. Does she want to be like Aislin, the friend her mother disdains for her sexual proclivities? Or does she want to be like her mom–sharp, educated, controlled?

Grand and Applegate don’t beleaguer the point with either of these characters. They present them in bold, broad strokes and then let the narrative move on. The ease with which the characters are established (and the snappy pace of the book) might make you think that it’s one note. In fact, I initially feared we were in for little more than another story about the evils of scientific research.

But that’s not what this book is about. First of all, there’s a real love for science here–from Plissken’s computer hacking to Spiker’s use of a complex sim capable of building artificial humans. Somehow, Applegate and Grant were able to capture precisely what makes games like Spore so addictive–the art of it, as well as the twitchy, modular fun. Secondly, there’s surprising nuance in the minor characters (even the villains) by the end. Thematically, this is a fairly dark tale–though perhaps not as dark as Animorphs–about discovering the truth behind your childhood myths about your parents. It’s also got a bit of a Pygmalion thing going on, about art and artists, about creators and how the things they make can grow beyond their control.

But I think the most interesting questions here are ethical: when is it right to play god? To what lengths should we go to protect our creations–our children?

Again, this isn’t great literature. But for commercial lit it does a good job of incorporating complexity and big ideas. And that, I think, is what I always liked best about Animorphs, too. They were deceptive little books. Kids turn into animals, ha ha–only not. I think the same is true about Eve & Adam. You might think this is just another YA sci-fi thriller, but there’s some pretty juicy meat here on a familiar set of bones.
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Reading Progress

09/05/2012 page 107
35.0% "Fast read so far--I like the genetic engineering scenes. Feels like a solid description of sim games."

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Tzippy (new) - added it

Tzippy The Katherine Applegate of Animorphs fame?

Phoebe Tzippy wrote: "The Katherine Applegate of Animorphs fame?"

The same!

message 3: by Corinne (new) - added it

Corinne Nothing about the description appeals to me... but, um. K.A. Applegate? I am SO THERE.

Akilah I'm with Corinne on this one. LOVE Katherine Applegate.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

LOVE KAA and Michael but felt meh on this book. I'm SO GLAD you loved it though!!!!!!!!!

Phoebe Rachel wrote: "LOVE KAA and Michael but felt meh on this book. I'm SO GLAD you loved it though!!!!!!!!!"

I feel like the lone dissenter! At first I was like, well that was really fun, but kinda silly--four stars. But the longer I thought about how I'd review it, the more I realized its complexity. Gah, love that about their writing.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

It's okay. At first I gave it 5 stars then 4 just because I love KAA and Animorphs. Then I realized I wasn't being fair to reviewers and to KAA/MG. I wanted to be honest. In my review I said that I knew EXACTLY what they were going for theme wise and complexity wise, but I just wish it had a little more to it overall. I CAN'T WAIT FOR ADAM & EVE THOUGH!!! :-)

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree... There is sucha LOVE OF SCIENCE in this book which makes me want to rate it 4 stars. Because I'm pumped to see what's next with Eve and Adam and Solo, because like you say Animorphs was not just a kids series (um I wrote a whole paper in college on it LMAO)... I can't wait for this sequel Phoebe :) great review

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