Greg Bear – Vitals

Vitals starts out well as a science fiction bio-techno-thriller. Hal Cousins is a freelance scientist doing research into longevity. He raises private funding from extremely rich people with an interest in living a long, long time. He thinks he is very close to cracking the problem. But then he gets some mysterious phone calls from his brother, the scientific expedition he is on is sabotaged, and his submarine pilot tries to kill him. When he makes it back to dry land, his funding is cut off, his lab is shut down, and he finds himself on the run from shadowy forces he doesn’t understand. Where the book goes wrong, though, is that this isn’t Hal Cousins’ story. About half-way through, we’re introduced to another character in an attempt to provide a different perspective on events, but it isn’t his story either. There’s a mysterious conspiracy happening, and there are attempts to unravel it. But too many important events appear to happen behind the scenes, far out of Cousins’ reach, with the end result that he is powerless to change anything. He doesn’t drive the plot–he’s just a passenger. That’s a pity, because the real story would have been very interesting.