Mar 21, 11
Read in March, 2011
All right, that's finally done. Nothing like making a stomach bug feel worse by reading a very disappointing book.
First off, I will say that I do admire Ms. Auel for a couple of things: 1) She researched this like no one else. The depth and breadth of her experiences while writing all this are absolutely commendable. Above and beyond. Very few people get interested in something and go that far into learning about it. And 2) She has always said (in the few interviews I can find) that she wrote this whole thing for herself. Few writers can say that and mean it and I hope she is satisfied with what she produced. Ultimately, all writers know that that is what really matters. I'd like to thank her for introducing me to this fascinating world.
That said, here I go. Spoilers very much follow.
The first 2 parts of this book are just an agonizing repeated ad nauseum rehashing of incidents from the first 4 books (nothing of note happened in the 5th, really), and Ms. Auel's own field journal of tours of painted caves. Nothing happens. The end. Didn't even make me want to see the caves, and I've ALWAYS wanted to see those caves. Now if I do see them, I will just be thinking of the fat chick peeing in the corner and Wolf taking a crap on the path. (Note to aspiring writers: Telling about people and animals' bodily functions is not a detail needed for realism. Just not.)
The third part was where the published story should have started. A few halfway exciting plot points happen, or start to happen and then....just don't fulfill. Even Ayla's drug-induced "calling" was disappointing. And while it might be realistic and refreshing to show that Neolithic (Paleolithic? My college Anthropology escapes me right now) people were not benign "noble savages" with strict cultural morays against violence by showing them beating a group of criminals to a bloody pulp, I don't think that was necessary.
It made me sad that this book ended on such a negative note; that instead of Ayla contributing somehow to the future of mankind (as had been teased throughout the saga), she was the singular cause of its eventual "downfall"into a patriarchal system. All because she realized that the penis has a biological function for procreation. I expected more from Ayla.
And let's talk about that for a moment, shall we? I have never, ever seen an author turn on their protagonist in such a blatant and hostile way. The narrative of this book, the underlying tone, makes it very clear that Ms. Auel was sick to death of this story. That by the end of it, she hates this wonderful character she created and wants nothing more to do with her and lost the will to help Ayla become what we all thought she would. Ayla is flat and unsympathetic and simple. Even when Jondalar cheats on her with that malicious slut, I just rolled my eyes at the rehashing of the plot of MH that followed.
I know she struggled with a huge bout of writer's block. That happens to every writer (me included. I shall not throw stones into her little glass house). I wish Ms. Auel could have come through it with a little more grace and dignity, with some recognition that she was not alone in this endeavor, that there are millions of us out here who needed this story to be...more. Is that too maudlin? Did I hold her pedestal up a bit high? Maybe. But you can't start a meal with filet mignon and end it with green jello.
I've never been a fan of fan fiction. But I think I might take a stab at this one. Someone needs to fix this book. And, following Jean Auel's own
credo, I shall write it for myself.
And now back to reading ChickLit crap that I love.