ARC: Sapient

Sapient tells the story of an autistic boy and his mother, who will do anything to help her son--even steal a virus from the government. #spon | A book review from Newbery and Beyond
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Note: I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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.

(Summary via Amazon)

Sapient was a very interesting book. It was exciting without being too full of heart-pounding action; it talked about research labs and viruses without getting too science-y. I had a few problems with it, but on the whole, I found it enjoyable.

I liked that one of the main characters, Robbie, was autistic, and that the book talked about his mother Jane’s difficulties in giving him a “normal” life, but he’s not really autistic for long.  I would love to read a book that deals more head on with the issue of raising an autistic child.  Robbie’s autism is more of a plot device than a character trait, and because his autism is not fully explored, his mother’s behavior is much less understandable. I found myself getting so irritated with Jane!  Sure, she just wanted to take care of her kid, but she made some insane decisions that created some pretty violent and dangerous results.

I was also not a fan of the intelligent animals as protagonists thing. As you may have noticed, I do not generally like animal stories, because I find them too gimmicky. Just a personal preference, but Einstein especially got on my nerves at times.

This book is basically a thriller with a brief exploration of ethics in science and medicine. Despite a few flaws (and personal dislikes), I really enjoyed it. If you decide to pick it up, let me know what you think!

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

P.S. If you want to know what animal stories I have enjoyed, you can check out The Case of the Cursed Dodo, The Underneath, The One and Only Ivan, Abel’s Island, and Julie of the Wolves.

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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