- My rating: 3 Stars
- Pages: 261 Hardcover
- Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
- Spoiler-free review
Inspired by the true story of a woman who changed the way we understand our world.
In 1933 three young, gifted anthropologists are thrown together in the jungle of New Guinea. They are Nell Stone, fascinating, magnetic and famous for her controversial work studying South Pacific tribes, her intelligent and aggressive husband Fen, and Andrew Bankson, who stumbles into the lives of this strange couple and becomes totally enthralled. Within months the trio are producing their best ever work, but soon a firestorm of fierce love and jealousy begins to burn out of control, threatening their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives…
Hello guys! It’s been about… 5 months (?) since my last review. Oh my. I didn’t mean to be gone for so long, I swear. I’ve read a couple dozen books in that time, so I’m going to try and review some of them in the next upcoming weeks. I’ll start with my most recent finish, which is this book that I picked up in Barnes and Noble while at a summer program at UCLA. I finished it about 10 minutes ago. lol.
This book received a lot of hype back in 2014, and I have to say that I am sorely disappointed. The blurb, if you’ve read it, sounds interesting, if a little strange in terms of genre. A love triangle of anthropologists…cool, right? It would have been, if executed correctly.
Much of the plot takes place during the actual work of our anthropologists, who are living with tribes in New Guinea. Throughout their adventures (although nothing ever really happens), King ponders questions about the true nature of their work and the relevance of science. I enjoyed the thoughts that the philosophy evoked, but these statements were randomly placed without much thought to surrounding events. It seemed very haphazard.
The trainwreck comes with the love triangle (which should actually be like a pentagon or something). Boy, was that a mess. There wasn’t a simple he-loves-her and she-loves-him scenario. Oh no, that would be too much like Twilight. Instead, the woman is caught between loving about 3 people, while her husband abuses her and loves one of the other men she loves. Meanwhile, the man receiving both of their attention is sleeping with another woman, but loves the original wife in question. Sound confusing? Overcomplicated? It was. The characters were extremely flat and unrelatable.
On top of it, the relationships that were portrayed were for the most part extremely unhealthy and no one did anything to try and change it. I think King was trying to compare the “norm” of Western civilization to that of tribes that we consider “savage”, but the message was lost in the frustration and poorly written sex scenes.
This book was a fairly short read without much action, and the climax came too suddenly. I really think the author was attempting symbolism with many of the events, but the rest of the story was too shallow to add any deeper meaning to anything. It was awarded one of the top 10 books and received a Kirkus prize, so maybe I’m missing something. If I am, it’s my loss.