LAKE HOUSE
James Patterson


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Little, Brown & Company, 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding

LAKE HOUSE is the long awaited sequel to James Patterson's best-selling novel, WHEN THE WIND BLOWS. LAKE HOUSE revisits the lives of the six genetically engineered children Dr. Frannie O'Neill and FBI agent Thomas "Kit" Brennan rescued from the laboratory where they were imprisoned by diabolical scientific researchers.

Now, months later, Frannie, a young veterinarian with an animal practice in Bear Bluff, Colorado, and Kit are suing the parents of the six children for custody. They believe the children are still in danger. Even though Frannie and Kit are unmarried, they feel they could provide the protection and love these extraordinary children need.

The children, Max, Matthew, Ozymandias, Icarus, Peter and Wendy, were injected with bird DNA while they were embryos in their mother's wombs. The fertility clinic that treated the parents told the mothers the fetuses were in distress and performed emergency C-sections. Afterward, the parents were told the children had died, but they were actually locked in a laboratory undergoing inhumane observation and tests at a place known as the School. The half human, half bird children were born with wings and hollow bones that allow them to fly. The secrets they carried from the School is the root of their present danger.

When 12-year-old Max, the leader of the group, is forced to testify at the custody hearing, she reveals a few of the secrets from her time at the School; secrets she has kept buried. But there are things she dare not mention publicly. She has been warned, "You talk, you die." Frannie, Kit and the children believe if they could just go back to the Lake House they might be able to grow up in a safe environment. But will the Lake House keep the children safe from the terrible secrets that still threaten their lives?

Dr. Ethan Kane runs a secret underground research hospital. Under the guise of legitimate medical studies, he performs multiple organ transplants and stem cell research, but his true objectives could be compromised by the bird children. He must capture Max and the other children before they give away all his secret plans.

James Patterson has created a fantastic thriller employing biotechnology and genetic engineering. I didn't realize this novel was a sequel beforehand, but once I began to read I couldn't put it down. Patterson has taken the idea of genetic engineering to an astonishing level with little explanation for the biotechnology that made it possible. Readers just have to take his word for it, I suppose.

LAKE HOUSE moves along at a fast pace and is told from varying viewpoints. The descriptions of children flying were beautiful and vividly portrayed. The altered children are all geniuses and have matured at a faster rate than their human chronological years. This issue allows the author to explore their desire to mate, something which I found a little creepy. To view them as adorable, angel-like children in one scene, and hormone driven birds the next, was an uncomfortable stretch for me. The sinister threat to these characters and society is never completely resolved. In fact the villains were quickly expedited in a few paragraphs, leaving the wrap up a little weak. However, the ending allows the possibility for continuing threats and further stories about these fascinating characters.

Patterson is known for his best-selling Alex Cross series, featuring a black Washington D.C. police detective from ALONG CAME A SPIDER and KISS THE GIRLS.

 

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