For those of you who aren’t familiar with Virtual Book Tours, they work a bit differently than our normal reviews and giveaways: First comes the review, followed by a Q&A with the author, followed by the Giveaway rules and the Rafflecopter entry form.
The Review: When I was approached about participating in a Virtual Book Tour for J.E. Fishman’s debut thriller, Primary, I was pretty much sold as soon as I read the concept. When I read Primacy, I was thrilled to find it is not only about a cause dear to my heart but it’s one hell of an action-packed thriller! Whether you love animals or you love thrillers, you’re going to want to read this one!
Liane Vinson has had some problems in the past. She put her faith in the wrong guy and ended up getting arrested when she tried to protect him. Given her love of animals, her therapist felt working with them was a good field for her, which led Liane to her current job working at Pentalon, a super secret animal testing lab on Long Island. For the past two years she’s been relegated to working with rats but she’s done such a good job with them that she’s just gotten a huge promotion to work in the primate lab with a new shipment of apes – bonobos to be exact. Bonobos are apes, not monkeys, and are mankind’s closest cousin. Liane’s job is to acclimate them, gain their trust, and teach them behaviors that make it easier for lab staff to work with them. They are so gentle and sweet that she loves working with them.
Liane was amazed to see twin bonobos among the shipment. The twins are very young and she knows they would still be stuck like glue to their mother if they had been left in the wild. They are separated into their own room, and put in separate cages but right next to each other. She wishes they could have been left together because they are very bonded but she understands the rationale for separating them. They are so sweet that she has fallen for them, and names them against all the rules. She loving their chattering and gesturing as if they’re talking to each other and trying to communicate with her. And then one day she realizes Bea is talking to her in the same way a toddler would.
“’Liane,’ she said. ‘Liane.’ Bea uttered something that sounded like liloba…’ Liloba,’ the brother repeated. ‘Liane,’ Liane said. ‘Moto.’ said Bea. The apes jumped up and down. ‘Moto. Moto. Moto. Moto.’ Words in sequence…They didn’t mean anything to Liane, and yet they appeared to inspire something in the twins.”
Liane makes the mistake of talking to Adnan Hammurabi, a lab scientist, about it and he confirms that he has noticed their toddler-like babbling and that the twins appear to have the capability for speech. When she comes back to the lab the next day, she is horrified to learn the consequences of what she said in the lab. She is determined to rescue Bea from the lab and when she succeeds, her life is changed forever. Talk about naïve. Liane has no idea of the firestorm she is setting off, or the lengths to which the company, and other scientific and political interests, will go to keep the world from learning that at least some bonobos can speak. Bottom Line: She’s suddenly on the run for her life and for Bea’s life.
Like the best Michael Crichton novels, Primacy is a non-stop, heart-pounding ride from start to finish. There are masterfully interwoven plots that made me gasp in horror but which, unfortunately, I found to be all too realistic. I literally could not put it down until I got to the end. I became so wrapped up in this story that I felt a huge need to grab Bea and save her myself, and protect her from everyone and everything that could harm her. I laughed, I cried, I gasped and I shuddered. I recognized myself in Liane – I would have been just as naïve about the consequences of my actions and, even knowing the consequences, I still would have done the same thing. Unless you hate animals, you are going to love Primacy! I highly recommend it!
Primacy was released on September 1, 2011, so it’s available in hard copy and as an e-book from your favorite bookseller.
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Q&A with J.E. Fishman, the Author of Primacy
1) What inspired you to write Primacy? One way to come up with a dramatic premise is to contemplate a slightly different reality by asking, “What if…” What if an ambitious associate went to work for a law firm that turned out to be owned by the mob: The Firm. What if scientists tried to clone a dinosaur: Jurassic Park. What if a king decided to divide his holdings among his children but one of them said no: King Lear. I was driving in the car one day and asked myself: What if the first ape to mutate for speech showed up in an animal testing laboratory of all places?
2) Your new novel deals with the sensitive issue of animal rights. You say you’re not an animal rights activist, but where do you stand on the issue? I think we humans need to be more conscious of our impact on other animals. One day we may look back at how we treated animals in this period and be appalled, the way we are appalled today about having once allowed slavery and denied women equal rights.
3) In your story, Primacy, all hell breaks loose when it’s discovered that twin bonobos at an animal research lab appear to have acquired the power of speech. How possible is it for animals to gain the ability to speak a human language? There are two factors. One is the physical ability to form words as we’d understand them. The other is the mental ability to employ syntax. Obviously parrots can speak words that we understand, for example. There have been some famous ones, like Alex, that seem to know hundreds of words and use them to express their desires, but I guess they can’t string them together into complex sentences. Apes have been taught sign language, but as for speaking they are said to have a voice box too high up in the neck to form words. In Primacy the bonobos have had multiple mutations: in the location of the larynx and in the language region of the brain. How possible is that? Well, we have a common ancestor, which means we humans didn’t start out talking, either.
4) The issue of what should happen to the surviving talking ape consumes your book. What do you think would happen in the real world if a talking ape was discovered? I suppose a lot depends upon where that ape is discovered. By putting this one in an animal testing lab, I’m sketching out the moral dilemma in bold face. I fear that if a talking ape showed up somewhere less explosive it would be treated as a novelty, a freak of nature. The point that the heroine, Liane, makes in Primacy is that the interests of the individual should be paramount. Humans can be so callous even to fellow humans, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect some poor talking ape’s individuality to triumph over its novelty for us. On a philosophical level, however, it might force us to recalibrate the primacy of humans in nature.
5) Should we all go vegan, boycott zoos, put an end to bullfighting, and ban hunting? I’m not a philosopher or a political activist. These are complicated issues. Let’s start by asking ourselves the right questions, though. Let’s start by acknowledging the consequences of our actions upon individual creatures. A deer that lives its life free and dies with a shot to the heart suffers a great deal less than a dog that spends its life in a cage in a lab. Death and killing are a part of the natural condition. Confinement inside buildings and torture are not. How about we start by eliminating – or at least mitigating – the latter?
6) Part of the story takes place in the Congo, where poverty and animal rights abuses seem to go hand in hand. What can be done to clean up this mess? I’m not an expert on The Congo. It does seem that in places where people treat one another badly, they treat animals even worse. But for all that I’m sure there are many Congolese fighting to protect the animals. Years ago, on a trip to Zimbabwe, I saw people risking their lives to stop poachers, for instance. As humans, we always have a choice in our own behavior.
7) You write of the bonobo, an endangered species. What can be done to protect it? Their range is very small in the wild. The only thing we can really do is to protect their habitat in The Congo. There are conservation organizations working on this, such as Friends of Bonobos, the Jane Goodall Institute, World Wildlife Fund, Bonobo Conservation Initiative, and others.
The Prize = 1 copy of Primacy
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 9/24/2011, at 11:59pm EST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. and Canadian mailing addresses because of publisher restrictions. The publicist will ship the book directly to the winner.
3) You must be 18 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form. Even if leaving a comment is part of the giveaway, you must use the form in addition to leaving the comment for the comment to count as an entry.
5) If you already follow PopcornReads on Twitter or Facebook, you must still complete that part of the Rafflecopter form for your follow to count as an entry.
6) If you do not provide a mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. Mailing addresses will be used to ship your book.
7) Please note: The place for leaving comments is below the Rafflecopter form.
8) That’s it – it’s really a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!