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LUCY By: Laurence Gonzales July 20, 2010

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading.

         This is a selection from the new book shelf.  The Lycan Librarian found this novel very dry, and grew quickly irritated by the preachy tone. It is about a young girl, saved from a civil war raging in the jungle, who is later discovered to be a hybrid —  half human and half bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee.)  Yes, Lucy was out of her element when brought to Chicago, and in a new world, but at times she sounded like a total dope. Like in the grocery store when she asked how anyone could squeeze a carrot to get juice when she was already familiar with a vast array of food preparation appliances. For some reason, it also irked me when she questioned if people really ate Fruity Cheerios while in the vastness of the cereal aisle. Is that really the least appealing cereal name when up against Lucky Charms, and sugar this, and cocoa that, and this puffs and that puffs and donut and cookie cereals? It was amazing this girl could jump to her conclusions so quickly when the author did not even bother to use the tool of dialogue to explain things to her. He did not take his time to allow her to absorb, be amazed, be afraid, learn, and then notice the problems, making the writing seem amateur.

     Now, when handed a television remote control for the first time, she was able to work it to turn channels and then turn it off when she wanted. I can’t even do that with a new remote — and sometimes I can’t with my old, familiar remote if I mistakenly hit a wrong button at some point!  Too much just didn’t ring true, and the actions and dialogue in the novel didn’t seem carefully thought out. I grew more and more annoyed as I read, and realized if I kept reading, I would be slapped with everything the author felt was wrong with our culture in a very overt and preaching manner. An example is when Lucy watched her first soap opera and wondered why an older woman wore makeup to make her appear younger when age is revered in the jungle. How does she know what makeup does and why the woman was wearing it? She never wore it and had not been told the woman wore it to look younger. There was just too much, like this, that distracted me and stopped me in my tracks, and I never became immersed in the story. I’m not saying the author didn’t have valid points. He does. But I don’t want my nose rubbed in them.  I finally, after only four chapters, had to admit defeat and I put the book down unfinished. I’m sorry to give this book a bad review, but this felt to me like a first draft that needed to be put aside for a while and then reworked after some thought. Perhaps this non-fiction author would do best to stick with his forte.



1. Heidemarie - July 23, 2010

The context of this story is very interesting. I have a chat friend who just returned from the Congo, bringing back with him a nine year old girl who lived in the jungle isolated from civilization as we know it. While I believe he was conflicted about removing her from the environment, he knew that it was not safe for her to remain there because of the civil war.

lycan librarian - July 23, 2010

It is a very, very interesting concept, which is why I was so disappointed that it was written so dryly and had such flat and unbelievable characters. I was really looking forward to reading this one.

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