“Sure to entertain, but thought-provoking as well.”—Kirkus Reviews, Pointer
Evaby Peter Dickinson
THIRTEEN-YEAR OLD EVA wakes up in the hospital unable to remember anything since the picnic on the beach. Her mother leans over the bed and begins to explain. A traffic accident, a long coma . . .
But there is something, Eva senses, that she’s not being told. There is a price she must pay to be alive at all. What have they done, with their amazing medical… See more details below
THIRTEEN-YEAR OLD EVA wakes up in the hospital unable to remember anything since the picnic on the beach. Her mother leans over the bed and begins to explain. A traffic accident, a long coma . . .
But there is something, Eva senses, that she’s not being told. There is a price she must pay to be alive at all. What have they done, with their amazing medical techniques, to save her?
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By Peter Dickinson
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1988 Peter Dickinson
All rights reserved.
PART ONE WAKING
Dream about trees? Oh, come back! Come ...
But so strange ...
Eva was lying on her back. That was strange enough. She always slept facedown. Now she only knew that she wasn't by the sensation of upness and downness—she couldn't actually feel the pressure of the mattress against her back. She couldn't feel anything. She couldn't be floating? Still dreaming?
When she tried to feel with a hand if the mattress was there, it wouldn't move. Nothing moved! Stuck!
In panic she forced her eyes open. It seemed a huge effort. Slowly the lids rose.
Dim white blur. A misty hovering shape, pale at the center, dark at the edges.
With a flood of relief Eva dragged herself out of the nightmare. Mom's voice. The mist unblurred a little, and the shape was Mom's face. She could see the blue eyes and the mouth now.
She tried to smile, but her lips wouldn't move.
"It's all right, darling. You're going to be all right."
There was something terrible in the voice.
"Do you know me, darling? Can you understand what I'm saying? Close your eyes and open them again."
The lids moved slow as syrup. When she opened them she could see better, Mom's face almost clear, but still just blur beyond.
Relief and joy in the voice now but something else still, underneath.
"You're going to be all right, darling. Don't worry. You've been unconscious for for ... a long time. Now you're going to start getting better. You aren't really paralyzed. You can't move anything except your eyes yet, but you will soon, little by little, until you're running about again, good as new."
Eva closed her eyes. A picnic? Yes, on the seashore—Dad standing at the wave edge, holding Grunt's hand on one side and Bobo's on the other, all three shapes almost black against the glitter off the ripples. And after that? Nothing.
"Is she asleep?" whispered Mom.
As Eva opened her eyes she heard a faint electronic mutter, and this time she could see clearly enough to notice a thing like a hearing aid tucked in under the black coil of hair by Mom's left ear.
"I don't know if you can remember the accident, darling. We're all right too, Dad and me, just a bit bruised. Grunt broke his wrist-the chimps got loose in the car, you see—on the way back from the seashore. Can you remember? One blink for yes and two for no, all right?"
Eva opened and closed the heavy lids, twice.
"Oh, darling, it's so wonderful to have you back! I've only got five minutes, because I mustn't wear you out, and then they'll put you back to sleep for a while. Look, this is a toy they've made for you, until you're really better."
She held up a small black keyboard.
"They're going to start letting you move your left hand in a day or two," she said. "If everything goes well, I mean. So you can use this to do things for yourself, like switching the shaper off and on. What's the code for that?"
She'd asked the question to the air. The mutter answered. She pressed a few keys, and a zone hummed out of sight at the foot of the bed. At the same time a mirror in the ceiling directly above Eva's head began to move, showing her first a patch of carpet and then the corner of some kind of machine that stood close by the foot of the bed and then the zone as it sprang to life. It must have been a news program or something, an immense crowd stretching away along a wide street, banners, the drifting trails of tear gas, cries of rage ...
"We don't want that," said Mom and switched off, then listened as the little speaker muttered at her ear.
"All right," she said. "Darling, they say it's time for me to go. It's been so wonderful I ... never believed ... I'll just open the blind for you, okay?, so that you've got something to look at next time you wake up ..."
Eva had closed her eyes to answer yes, but the lids didn't seem to want to open. She heard the slats of the blind rattle up and a slight whine directly overhead as the mirror tilted to show her the window.
"Oh, darling," said Mom's voice, farther away now. There was something in it—had been all along, in spite of the happiness in the words. A difficulty, a sense of effort ...
A door opened and closed. For a while Eva lay with her eyes shut, expecting to drift off to sleep, back into the dream, but stopped by the need to try and puzzle out what Mom had told her. There'd been an accident in the car on the way back from the picnic, caused by the chimps getting loose. Grunt probably—he was always up to something. She'd been unconscious since then, and now she was lying here, in some kind of hospital probably, unable to move. But it was going to be all right. They were going to let her start moving her left hand in a day or two, and then later on the rest of her, little by little ...
Really? Mom wouldn't have lied—she never did. If it had been Dad, now ...
Her forehead tried to frown but wouldn't move. She'd heard of people being paralyzed after accidents, and then parts of them getting better, but the doctors letting it happen ...?
And the keyboard and the mirror—that showed it was going to take a long time, or they wouldn't have bothered ...
Something was dragging her down toward darkness. She willed herself awake. She fought to open her eyes. They wouldn't. But almost ...
A reason to open them ... something to see ... the window, Mom had said. She must look out of the window, see ...
Suckingly the lids heaved up. A blur of bright light, clearing, clearing, and now a white ceiling with a large mirror tilted to show the window. The light dazzled. After the long darkness it was almost like pain, but Eva forced herself to stare through it, waiting for her eyes to adapt to the glare. Now there was mist still, but it was in the mirror. An enormous sky, pale, pale blue. Light streaming sideways beneath it, glittering into diamonds where it struck the windows of the nearer buildings. High rise beyond high rise, far into the distance, all rising out of mist, the familiar, slightly brownish floating dawn mist that you always seemed to get in the city at the start of a fine day. She must be a long way up in a high rise herself, she could see so far. Later on, as the city's half-billion inhabitants began to stir about the streets the mist would rise, thinning as it rose, becoming just a haze but stopping you from seeing more than the first few dozen buildings. But now under the clear dawn sky in the sideways light of a winter sunrise Eva could see over a hundred kilometers, halfway perhaps to the farther shore where the city ended. She felt a sudden surge of happiness, of contentment to have awakened on such a perfect morning. It was like being born again. A morning like the first morning in the world.
In the room beyond, a door had opened and closed, and Eva's mother had come through. Her face was lined and her shoulders sagged with effort. There were four other people in the room. A man with a blond beard, graying slightly, sat watching a shaper zone that showed the scene Eva's mother had just left, the small figure on the white hospital bed ringed by its attendant machines and lit by the sunrise beyond the window. A younger man and woman in lab coats sat at computer consoles with a battery of VDUs in front of them, and an older woman in a thick, stained sweater and lopsided skirt stood at their shoulders, watching the displays.
Eva's mother settled herself onto the arm of the first man's chair and put her hand into his.
"Well done," he whispered.
There was silence for a minute.
"She doesn't want to go to sleep," said the man at the console. "Trying to get her eyes open."
"Let her," said the older woman.
The shape in the zone raised its eyelids. Clear brown eyes stared up. Slowly the wide pupils contracted.
"She knew me," said Eva's mother. "At least she knew me."
The older woman turned at her voice and came over to stand beside her, looking down at the zone.
"Yes, she certainly knew you, Mrs. Adamson," she said. "You were the first thing she saw and recognized. That was essential. Now she is seeing a familiar view. That can do nothing but good."
"If only she could smile or something. If only I could feel she was happy."
"I cannot let her use her face muscles for a long while yet. She must not attempt to speak until most of her main bodily functions are firmly reimplanted. But for happiness ... Ginny! A microshot of endorphin. And then put her back to sleep."
Eva's mother started to sob. The older woman patted clumsily at her shoulder.
"Don't cry, Mrs. Adamson," she said. "It's going to be all right. We've brought it off, in spite of everything. Your daughter's all there."
She turned and went back to the control area. The man rose and followed her. They stood watching the displays and talking in low voices. But Eva's mother sat motionless, staring at the zone, searching for a signal, the hint of a message, while beyond the imaged window the image of sunrise brightened into the image of day.
Waking again ...
Still strange ...
Stranger each time, more certainly strange ...
But surely the dream had been there, unchanged.
The trees ...
Loster than ever ...
Already Eva had gotten into a waking habit. She would keep her eyes shut and try to remember something about the dream and fail. Then she would feel with her left hand for the keyboard and check that she'd left the mirror angled toward the window and that nobody had come in and changed it while she'd been asleep. And then, still with her eyes shut, she'd guess what time of day or night it was—they let her stay awake for more than an hour now, and then put her back to sleep for a while and woke her up again, so it might be any time—and what the weather was. And last of all she'd open her eyes and see if she'd guessed right.
First, what time? Not where were the hands on the clock, but where was the sun? Up there. It didn't seem like guessing. She could sense the presence of the sun, almost like a pressure, a weight, despite the layers of high rise above her. The weather, though? She didn't feel so sure about that, but it had been sunny the last few wakings, so a fine day, late morning ...
She opened her eyes.
Dead right. The sun up there. She could tell by the stretching shadows under the sills of the high rise of the university library. The city haze was more than halfway up the nearer high rises, and as it thickened with distance it seemed to become deeper, so that only the tops of the farther buildings showed here and there, like rocks in a sea, and beyond that they vanished altogether. Nice guess, Eva—only it wasn't a guess. Funny how sure she felt about the sun. She couldn't remember that happening before the accident.
Next, she practiced using the keyboard. Mom had called it a toy, but if so it was an extremely expensive one. A very clever gadget indeed. It lay strapped in place beneath her hand, and the keys were so arranged that she could reach all of them. It didn't just do the things Mom had said, like moving the mirror and switching the shaper off and on and changing channels—its chief trick was that she could use it to talk. Only very slowly, so far. First you pressed a couple of keys to set it to the "Talk" mode, and then you tapped out what you wanted to say in ordinary English spelling, and then you coded for "Tone," and last of all you pressed the "Speak" bar, and it spoke.
It spoke not with a dry electronic rasp but with a human voice, Eva's real voice, taken from old home-shaper discs and sorted into all its possible sounds and stored in a memory to be used any way she wanted. It was tricky, like learning to play the violin or something. Practice wasn't just getting her hand to know the keys and then work faster and faster; it was also putting in a sentence and then getting the voice to say it in different ways ("Mary had a little lamb!" "Mary had a little lamb?" "Mary had a leetle lamb.").
Dad said it had been especially built for her by scientists in the Communications Faculty. His blue eyes, paler and harder than Mom's, had sparkled with excitement while he showed her its tricks—it was just his sort of toy. Eva, to be honest, had been less excited—okay, the scientists were friends of Dad's—the Chimp Pool was technically part of the university, and this room was in the Medical Faculty—and they'd been amused to see what they could do. Even so it must mean, surely, that nobody expected her to start speaking properly for a long time—months. Years? Ever? But Mom had said ...
No she hadn't. She'd talked about running around, not about speaking.
The thought came and went as Eva practiced, until suddenly she got irritated with her slowness and switched the shaper on instead. A thriller of some sort—a woman desperately pushing her way in the wrong direction along a crowded traveler—not that. A flivver-rally, the sky patterned with bright machines, the buzz of thousands of rotors—not that. A beach, kilometers of shoreline invisible under human bodies, the white surf bobbing with human heads—not that. People, people, people. Ah, trees ...
Only a cartoon, actually, one she used to watch a lot when she was smaller, because of the heroine's name. It was called Adam and Eve and the plot was always the same. Adam and Eve were the first people, and they were king and queen of the jungle. Adam ruled the animals, and Eve ruled the plants. Their enemy was the Great Snake. Adam and Eve were trying to drive him out of their jungle, so that it would be safe for them to have children, but Adam was always getting into trouble—usually a trap set by the Great Snake—because of his arrogance and impulsiveness, and then Eve had to get him out of it by her plant magic. It was rather wishy-washy but pretty to look at. All around the world hundreds of millions of little girls waited in ecstasy for the moment when Eve would begin her plant magic. Dad said the company spent huge amounts on research to make sure they put in what little girls wanted.
Now Eva watched, pleased by the greenness and the shapes of leaf and branch. Eve was following a trail through the jungle. Adam was in a mess somewhere, no doubt. The plants moved twigs and tendrils to show Eve the way he'd gone. She came to a cave mouth. She put a seed in the earth and caused a flower to spring up, a single white cup like a shaper dish. A huge white moth came out of the cave to drink at the nectar from the flower, and then guided Eve down into the darkness, using the trail of pollen that had stuck to Adam's feet as he came swishing through the jungle ...
Eva lost patience and switched off. It was funny, she thought, these sudden surges of annoyance—twice now this morning. She never used to be like that. She didn't feel like practicing with her voice again, so for something to do she told the mirror to go back and show her the view. She watched the reflections as it swung to its new position, mostly carpet and the corners of things, a piece of the cart, one of the machines that monitored and fed her and took her waste away, the air-conditioner, the window. The forest of high rises, the millions of people, people, people ...
The crammed streets, the crammed beaches, the crammed skies—they were only a fraction of them. Most people stayed in their rooms all day, just to get away from one another. A lot of them never went out at all. Their world was four walls and their shaper zone. Dad said that the shaper companies were the real rulers of the world. The people told them what they wanted and the companies gave it to them and nothing else mattered. The view from the window was beautiful, until you thought about the people.
Eva lost patience again and told the mirror to go somewhere else. The only place it knew was the visitor's chair. She watched as it swung—the air-conditioner, the machine, the cart, the blank zone, another machine, the chair ...
The long way around—it could have gone straight across the bed ...
They didn't want her to see the bed!
That note in Mom's voice, the effort, the sorrow. The keyboard, the trouble they'd taken. The way they'd set the mirror. The accident. You can get very badly smashed in an accident.
"What a pretty baby!" strangers used to say. "What a lovely little girl!" Later, just looks and smiles that said the same—glances and stares from boys when she came into a new class. She'd had Mom's oval face but Dad's high cheekbones, eyes a darker blue than either of them, long black gleaming hair, straight nose, full mouth ... She'd moved like a dancer, easily, fallen without thought into graceful poses ...
Excerpted from Eva by Peter Dickinson. Copyright © 1988 Peter Dickinson. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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As an avid reader, it's really hard for me to find a book that I don't like or one that I can't get into. Eva, however, is one of the worst books I've ever read. It's not that it's poorly written, or even that it's a dumb premise. I just didn't care for it: the characters, the situations, etc., were all annoying and almost laughable. I've never given a book only one star, but in my opinion, this one deserved it. However, if you're in to Science Fiction/Medical-type books, this may be up your alley. I like some Sci-Fi, but I m not a big Sci-Fi person in general.
This book is so much fun to booktalk! Students are simply fascinated by the plot and characters.
Thats cool. I like that name cause not alot of people have it. What state do u live in
I read this book in class and it was not a very good book. To begin with, the plot was slow and it got very boring in the middle. I was mesmoried by EVA in the begining but near the middle I started to regret that I read this book. In the middle it just drags on about how her chimp life is turnig out. I got very bored with that so I skipped to the end and speedreaded most of it. I figured out that she had a stroke and babies so that was interesting. Although, I would not recommend this book.
Im reading thi in school im 14 and it is a gret book and dont have bad language and yes it does have that cuz there tryin to teach ppl a leson
Im in seventh grade and i had to readthis as an assignment the description made it sound like a mistery like whathappened type thing but it turned into a crappy monkey book its not good its confusing there is no real plot at all its just like her life her DULL BORING chimp life
Don't read it!! My name is also Eva and I read it when I was about your age. It is full of bad language and enviromentalist/evolution stuff that's not only boring but annoying!!! Just don't read it!! E. G. J.
allright. not the best of all the books out there
this was definetly not the best book i've ever read. but its not the worst either. it went on for a long time but the ideas brought up were pretty good.
this book is horrible, in my opinion. my friend Tozie liked it, so you never know...my opinion is, 'give it one star' but some people might find it interesting. wasn't my kind of thing. to me the only good thing about this book is the bottom half of the cover with eva s face on it. if you hold it up to your own face and try to fit it over your eyes and nose, it's so funny, in a very juvenile way. but that s only good thing about this book/.
Peter Dickinson's book Eva was so unbelievably dumb! I HATED IT. I do not recommend it to anyone. Normally, I love science fiction books, but this was a joke. I'd rather take the ten dollars I spent on this book and burn it rather than read or buy this book again. It's horrible, stupid, and contrived with bad writing and stupid characters. Why would anyone want to read this unless they were being totured? I'd rather have tacks put in my bed than read one word of this god-awful book. How anyone can like this book is utterly beyond me it's so dumb, annoying, boring, stupid, dull, it should not ever get one good review except from someone who is delusional.
I had to pick a book for summer reading a while ago, and I decided to pick this, It was short, sounded interesting, and when I got home I began reading it, in the car, etc. Then slowly, I REALLY didn't want to pick it up. It confused me SO much, and everyone else who picked this book was like 'It was stupid' so I don't reccomend this book, no offence to the writer.
don't buy this book it was so boring i could not underatand anything everything was written complicated
to me the entire book was confusing and the beginning was really boring. I thought it was poorly written and should of had more details so it wouldn't be as confusing.