This series by Michael C. Grumley uses his captivating narrative to keep exploring the world of life beyond humans and how our evolution is strongly tied to the animals around us. Peppering in a little science fiction alongside his strong plots, Grumley transports the reader on a journey like no other. Gathering up the threads from past novels, this story pushes ahead in many facets. Alison Shaw continues to make amazing discoveries alongside her two trusty dolphins, leading to some interesting revelations off the coast of Trinidad. A young gorilla and capuchin monkey shed much light on life in Africa for another biologist, keen to see new parallels between humans and other species. All the while, a young Chinese girl holds a powerful secret inside her, one that could revolutionize the understanding of inter-species communication and connectivity. Packed with action, there is little time for the reader to catch their breath. Meant solely for series fans (as there is no way one could pick this book up as a standalone), Grumley does a masterful job filling in the gaps and creating new ones for those who seek more.
The IMIS system is getting to be quite the commodity, especially as other agencies learn that communication between humans and animals (dolphins and gorillas for the time being) is possible. Marine biologist Alison Shaw and her team see the perils and choose to hide it as best they can, while still honing its power to the best of their abilities. Shaw is able to work with Sally and Dirk, her trusted dolphins, learning more about them and some of the hierarchy that exist. This includes a special dolphin who appears to exhibit a number of powerful traits, all of which baffle Shaw to no end.
Off the coast of Trinidad, the team has discovered a portal left on the ocean floor by other beings. They seek to better understand it and try probing deep inside, only to have an accident cost the safety of a team member. Deemed lost, everyone gives up hope, but the dolphins know otherwise and communicate a plan to help extract the missing team member, in hopes of turning disaster into something positive.
Meanwhile, young Li Na is still recovering from the injection her father gave her, which appears to have instilled a number of strong powers into her body, not the least of which is youth and a strong connection to the animals around her. However, such power comes at a consequence and she is kidnapped again, in hopes that someone will be able to use those powers for their own good. Li Na and her fellow captive must wrest control away from the kidnappers before they become disposable in the eyes of everyone.
On the African continent, a young gorilla, Dulce, and capuchin monkey have opened the eyes of their handler to many new connections with humans. It would appear that other mammals hold keys to human evolution, some of which have been out there and never connected over the centuries. There is surely so much more to understand about animals that has not been discovered, making these small steps only the start of a powerful journey for everyone to enjoy.
As the actions ramps up and truths are revealed at every turn, Grumley takes readers on a journey that is as intense as it is masterful. I cannot say enough about the books and the story, thought they are not for the feint of heart. This series gets better the further one explores, though the intensity is also something that must be balanced. So much is going on that I have almost come to need a flowchart to keep it all straight.
Michael C. Grumley keeps developing highly-detailed novels whose complex plots are becoming harder to digest without full concentration. What began as a ‘novel’ concept has exploded into a powerful series that requires all my attention to understand how the pieces come together effectively. The books push the limits of science and social interactions, while also being highly entertaining and completely educational. Still, there are some readers who bemoan the literary freedoms used to keep the story moving. While I never expected to be, I am addicted to the plots where there is a great deal of action. I find myself listening particularly closely to the science, in hopes of understanding at least some of it, but am also accepting much of what I read, as I cannot parse some of the ideas into reality and complete fiction. Grumley has discovered a great recipe of fully engaging his readers and I cannot fault him at all.
The book again offers fans of the series a glimpse into the lives of many characters familiar to them throughout. While things began with only a few sharing the limelight, there are now more than can be effectively hashed out in a review. I will say that I thoroughly enjoy how Grumley balances character development within the plot, while also adding some personal growth as well. This is important, as it is not always running and shooting and scientific discovery, but personal connections that keep these characters relatable.
There are some interesting developments in the animal world as well. Grumley has used some of the narrative to add personality to those who are not humans. The reader can connect and feel that personal growth of the likes of Sally, Dirk, and even Dulce. It’s a wonderful sight to see me looking to know more about these types of characters as well, showing that Grumley has taken the time to make them more than simply add-ons to the story for the reader to see as mere ‘pets’.
Grumley has kept the story strong yet again and has many ideas flowing together, which bridges the novels effectively. The narrative advances at a clipped pace and keeps the reader wondering where things are headed. There are numerous moments of education for the scientific aspects of the plot, with a great deal of humour peppered throughout. Grumley does not make this an easy or light read, though it is thorough educational and opened my eyes (and mind) numerous times. As mentioned above, there is great character development, both through the narrative and dialogue. Grumley uses this to craft characters the reader will surely enjoy. That being said, some will bemoan the ‘natural language’ that begins creeping into the text. While sex and gratuitous violence are not present, I admit, the odd salty word makes an appearance, though it seems to fit the context well and is not overdone, for puritanical lovers of the series. Grumley again uses a mix of chapter lengths to engage the reader well into staying up well into the night. This being the penultimate novel in the series (so I am told), there is much to be resolved in the final novel.
Kudos, Mr. Grumley, for another strong read. I cannot wait to see where you end things with this stunning series.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons