Action rules in Peter Clenott's Devolution, the story of a teenage girl raised by chimpanzees. The book is peopled by interesting characters and playsAction rules in Peter Clenott's Devolution, the story of a teenage girl raised by chimpanzees. The book is peopled by interesting characters and plays out against a well-described setting, but it depends on a rising crescendo of fist fights, gun battles, and ferocious attacks by wild animals (and humans) to propel the reader through the story.
As entertaining as the mayhem might be (and it is entertaining), it actually serves to underscore the theme of the book, which is how thin the line really is between man and beast. The protagonist, Chiku Flynn, is the sixteen-year-old daughter of two deeply flawed scientists who essentially turned her upbringing over to the chimpanzees they are studying on an island in the Congo. The result is a heroine every bit as compelling as Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
There are a raft of other characters, too, but the most interesting are the chimps. Clenott gave them distinct personalities, the ability to communicate, and individual motivations for their actions. This could have been cringe-inducing and mawkish, but he pulled it off quite well and made the primates fully believable characters.
The Congo itself plays a huge role in the novel. Having visited Central Africa myself and studied the DRC while writing my novel, Heart of Diamonds: A Novel of Scandal, Love and Death in the Congo, I read Clenott's work with a particularly critical eye. My conclusion: his portrayal of the nation's tragic history and its current convoluted conflict is spot on.
Devolution is a fun, compelling read based on a fascinatingly creative premise....more
Room of Tears has one of the most creative "hooks" for a novel you'll ever encounter. Author Linda Merlino took what could have been a 9/11 weeper andRoom of Tears has one of the most creative "hooks" for a novel you'll ever encounter. Author Linda Merlino took what could have been a 9/11 weeper and turned it into an engrossing tale with a fascinating twist to the ending. You'll find no spoiler here; suffice it to say that you'll never see it coming and the concept will set you back on your heels.
The book tells the story of Diane O'Connor, the widow of a fireman who was killed in the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11. The narrative takes us into the future when her son, Peter, born nine months after the attack, is elected Pope--the first from America. The links between those two events feed the narrative as it moves back and forth in time. Multiple voices tell the story, too, although most of it comes from the protagonist.
Room of Tears requires some careful reading to keep track of the story, but it's well worth the effort when you come to the thought-provoking conclusion....more
The Ryder Cup packs more excitement into the game than any event in golf. Curt Sampson captured all that excitement and then some in The War By The ShThe Ryder Cup packs more excitement into the game than any event in golf. Curt Sampson captured all that excitement and then some in The War By The Shore: the Incomparable Drama of the 1991 Ryder Cup. His immensely readable account captures all the intrigue leading up to the event, all the out-sized personalities who played in it, and especially the sheer brutality of the ultimate Ryder Cup venue, Pete Dye's Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
The intensity of Raymond Floyd, the almost physical clashes between Paul Azinger and Seve Balesteros, the crushing collapse by Mark Calcaveccia, the often-overlooked performance of David Feherty, the ever-so-tightly-wound play of Bernhard Langer that lead to the climactic last putt--Sampson brings it all home to the reader in a delightfully entertaining, informed account. He talked to nearly everyone involved in the event and, although the passage of time may have obscured a few details and more than a few axes are still being ground, he did an exemplary job of telling us what was happening in their heads as well as on the course.
The stories are well known, but Sampson makes them come alive with refreshingly cliche-free prose. As a golf writer myself, I particularly appreciate his ability to set the scene, describe the characters, and carry the reader through the action with original verbiage you'll never (unfortunately) see on the sports pages.
The 1991 Ryder Cup is often cited as a turning point in the long history of the event. Sampson takes some issue with that conclusion and I agree with him. There is no question, though, that the War By The Shore woke up America to the powerful spectacle that team golf can be. ...more