Review: The Sum of Her Parts by Alan Dean Foster

The Sum of Her PartsThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Alan Dean Foster is one of science fiction’s longtime fixtures.  His novels have been around for decades, although I’ve only read a few of them.  Past books have been enjoyable, but I’m not sure what’s going on with him lately.  The Sum of Her Parts, the concluding volume in a trilogy, is about as bland as they come.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“Dr. Ingrid Seastrom was once a respected American physician. Whispr, whose body has been transformed to preternatural thinness, was once a streetwise thief. Now, in a world on the edge of catastrophe from centuries of environmental exploitation, they are allies—thrust together by fate to unravel an impossible mystery—even as they are stalked by a relentless killer.

Ingrid and Whispr are hunted fugitives bound together by a thread: a data-storage thread made of a material that cannot exist, yet somehow does. Their quest to learn its secrets—and, in Whispr’s case, sell them to the highest bidder—has brought them to South Africa’s treacherous Namib desert. Beyond its dangers waits a heavily guarded research facility that promises answers, if they can survive long enough to get there. But that won’t be easy, not with Napun Molé on their trail. They’ve already escaped the assassin twice, and as far as Molé is concerned, finishing them off isn’t just a job anymore… it’s personal.”

I’ve read this entire trilogy, and each book has been best described by the phrase “ho-hum”.  There is nothing exciting that happens to the characters, and the characters themselves are so bland that I really didn’t care what happened to them.  The only mildly interesting character is the assassin, and that’s mostly due to his creative ways of killing people (or attempting to kill them).

I honestly don’t know what all of the body manipulation has to do with the plot.  The trilogy was initially hyped as having to do with the extremes to which the human body could be tweaked for various purposes, but Foster never really did anything with the concept.  It seems to exist mainly to let the author describe all of the weird types of people that live in this version of our world.  None of the manipulations that readers see are integral to the plot at all.

Speaking of the plot, it mostly consisted of Whispr and Ingrid wandering through the desert trying to find a secret laboratory.  They get there, sneak around some more, make a major discovery and then the story ends.  At no point did I feel that there was any forward momentum to the tale.

I keep feeling like I should be writing more about this book, like I usually do, but I can’t think of much else to say.  This is a forgettable book that closes out a forgettable series.  The author didn’t make me care about the characters or what they were doing, and in the end, the only reason I got through the entire book was because it wasn’t all that taxing to read.  The Sum of Her Parts does not do justice to Foster’s talent.