Darwin's Children, Greg Bear, Ballantine Books, 2003, 387 pp
This is the sequel to Greg Bear's 1999 Darwin's Radio. It is just as exciting and unique as the first book, if not more. The story opens with Stella, the "virus" daughter of the two scientists from Darwin's Radio, who is now eleven years old and living a highly protected life off the grid with her two parents. Though they have given her the best parenting they cannot give her what she wants most at that age: the freedom to move freely in the world and to have friends her own age.
More than a decade after these amazing new children were first being born, the American government still regards them as a dangerous element who could start a plague at any time. Severe legislation, denying these kids any form of human rights, has been put in place. The general public have also been taught to revile and fear what they call the "virus" children. Stella decides to run away and find out about life herself, because her parents have not told her everything and she is intelligent enough to realize this. She is also innocent of how much danger is out there. Her action brings on acute repercussions for all three of them.
The rest of the story tells how they each deal with those repercussions. It is heart stopping and while I hoped it would work out in the end, I never knew if it would until the end. Greg Bear's ability to make the results of fear, ignorance, government and financial dishonesty as well as the hunger for power completely realistic, keeps the suspense high. He also teaches us a good deal of cutting edge science and approaches the subject of evolution in its most current stage. He even gets into spiritual questions and makes you wonder how you would react if the newest generation really was an advancement over your own.
I recommend reading Darwin's Radio first, if you want to full impact of this volume. Both are great reading.
(Darwin's Children is available in mass market paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)