Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Last Neanderthal Clan by Lisa Lareau and Charlie Boring

The earth is warming after a long ice age.  As the topography changes, humanoid clans can travel where they have never gone before.  The Cro-Magnon clans, called the northern clans, and the Neanderthal clans, called the southern clans, now have an unprecedented opportunity to meet in each other's territories.  Many of the Cro-Magnon clans are cannibalistic, and have developed clan traditions that encourage hunting and killing Neanderthals.  The most dominant Cro-Magnon clan is the Nord clan.  Its leader, Carni, fathered a son with a Neanderthal woman, and left the woman and child with her clan.  Now, he leads the Nord clan in a quest to take Neanderthal slaves.  But Carni doesn't anticipate that his son, Raka, will inherit his own leadership skills to become head of the Neanderthal clan.  Determined to survive, Raka takes the remnants of his clan into the mountains to evade his dangerous father, and to find safe ground for his people. (taken from the back of the book)

My first response, before even cracking the spine, was 'Oh!  A caveman book!  How fun!'  I wasn't wrong!  This was a captivating and enjoyable read.  It's so much more than a 'caveman' book, however. 

The time period is absolutely fascinating.  Anyone who knows me is aware of my fascination with cannibals.  That was a huge bonus for me.  It was amazing how these tribes survived.  All of them, not just the cannibals.  They had to set up these clans and superstitions and reason led them to make decisions that we wouldn't make with the knowledge we have today.  There is no sense of security.  There is no 'home'.  It's the open field and movable tents and scavenging in order to eat.  It's praying that deities will protect you and let you live another day.  It's having to be the most intelligent and strong.  There's a sense of constant peril that follows you throughout the book.  It keeps you on your toes because anything can happen.

As for the characters, I found myself completely immersed in each generation.  Though this is Raka's story, it starts long before him.  The people are alive and you feel a kinship with them.  All of their hopes and fears are laid bare for you, as the reader, to grab onto and make your own.

Normally, I'm a dialogue junkie, but you'll not find dialogue here.  People communicate with each other in a different way.  It was actually calming to read without hearing voices in my head.

My only complaint with this book is Charlie.  No, not the author Charlie, but the low life Charlie who in fiction is writing the story.  Every time we stepped out of the Neanderthal world and back into today's society to found out how Charlie was doing on his research, I felt like I was being ripped out of my skin.  It doesn't happen too often, but I found it annoying and unnecessary.

2 comments:

  1. I loved your review. As Lisa and I wrote the book, we wanted to capture how a book of this type might come into existence. That story line involved hypothetical research performed as "Charlie" observed. The only saving grace for a character like Charlie is the way he winds up. Hope your readers enjoy the book.

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  2. Thank you for stopping in, Charles! I definitely see the merit in having Charlie's story, I just personally found it distracting. Also, I was talking to a dear friend this morning about this book. We both agreed that we can't imagine how anyone could NOT enjoy it :)

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