Tuesday, October 7

The Ovum Factor

The Ovum Factor - book review

On a purely fiction sense, The Ovum Factor, by Marvin L. Zimmerman, can be a fun read. My husband read it as well. He enjoys books such as American Psycho and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as well as the sports pages. I enjoy Umberto Eco and many 19th Century classics. So for me, it was rather old hat – been there, read that. The characters were neither original nor fascinating. The plot began well enough, almost slowed into a catatonic pace, and then picked up magnificently at the end. The writing style is passable but will not inspire avid readers. I had a very strong dislike of Zimmerman’s attempts at authenticity. Apparently he travelled to all/most of the places in his novel (including the Amazon) to provide vivid and truthful accounts, but these were often over-worked and read more like travel journalism.

However, for those with less literary expectations and who enjoy a good yarn, this isn’t too bad a read. An unfulfilled investment banker finds himself enmeshed in a world of cutting-edge neuroscience, global travel, and humanity’s ultimate survival! The plot is a trek through the challenge of, and the various obstacles to, finding a plant, and thereby a molecule, that will fast-pace humanity’s intelligence. The hope is that - in the right hands - these humans will discover the solution to the planet’s eco-dilemma. (Villain dressed in black seizing said molecule anyone?)

Now, on an eco-conscious level, the story poses problems for me. It suggests that the only means to survival of our species and planet is by way of some type of spiritual intervention. That is, without it, all is hopeless. The protagonist acts not so much on his eco-conscience but on his belief that he is fated to be involved in the endeavour. And the solution, aforementioned molecule, is practically a holy grail.

Nothing wrong with that at all, I enjoy stories with spiritual overtones as I’m a spiritual person myself. However, as a self-proclaimed eco-thriller, the novel’s thrust is humanity’s eco-impact. I feel the spotlight should be shed on our obligations and what we are going to do to fix what we’ve created. Not on hoping for some type of salvation. To be fair, the molecule is to increase the evolution of humanity’s intelligence, which we can then work out what it is we need to do. Yet, on closer inspection, this is a magical or miracle we hope for, rather than what is possible right now using the intelligence we have now. Rather than you and me making a change right now, let’s hope for someone else, hopefully someone ‘magical’ or superhuman, to fix it for us.

Yep, as a yarn it’s not bad. As an eco-consciousness raising book, it could prove great for someone very new to the whole field and perhaps in propel changes. For me, already eco-aware, it needs a totally different angle to inspire true hope within me.

Here’s hoping Zimmerman’s next novel challenges us on a more personal level.

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