Review: The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron

TITLE: The Last Neanderthal Image result for the last neanderthal book
AUTHOR: Claire Cameron
SUMMARY: Girl is a Neanderthal living one of her worst seasons yet, meanwhile in the present Rose is coping with her impending motherhood and stressful job as an paleo-archeologist
GENRE: Fiction | Historical Fiction
RATING: 3.5/4

The minute I saw this book and read the synopsis, I knew I had to get it. I found the premise of the story so interesting because it is about a Neanderthal family, and I for one find this type of history fascinating. So I bought the book and started reading it when I got home later that night.

One of the most striking things about the book is the writing style. You can tell Cameron adapted her writing style to fit the story of the Neanderthals. The sentences are simple, the wording is different from ours, and the descriptions are mixture of these things. When I first saw the pages of the book, I was scared because there isn’t much dialogue when we’re reading Girl’s parts. It’s just blocks of paragraphs and barely any dialogue. For some reason, I thought that was genius on her part simply because you can’t expect a different species to talk or think the same way as ours.

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Which brings me to how the author portrays the Neanderthals. Instead of the savage primitive beasts we’re used to seeing, Cameron writes a story about family and loss. If they are ever savage or beast like, it’s as a result of their harsh surroundings. Girl and her family are kind and nurturing and intelligent.

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Yes I said intelligent, not dumb. We might have survived but they did live for over 70,000 years and we’ve only been around for 50,000; clearly they did well.

The story also brought you to this survival mindset the Neanderthals and early humans must have felt constantly. Through Girl’s mind you see the importance of surviving everything in their harsh environment. Everything was thought through, and everything done was meant for the family to survive from the way they hunted, their sleeping habits, their travels to the meeting ground, and even their interactions with other animals and themselves. Every little bit counted towards the protagonist’s survival, and I really enjoyed that.

It was nice (and rare) to read story about pre modern humans, where the troubles the characters encounter are completely different.

The book alternated between the ancient past with Girl (the Neanderthal) and modern day with Rose (an archeologist who finds Girl). By the time I got halfway through the book, I started losing interest in Rose’s storyline. It wasn’t boring but it wasn’t as interesting as Girl’s story. The author tries to make a connection between the two characters (and it’s there) but I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t care about Rose’s personal problems, all I wanted to know was about her “science” and conclusions about what she found, and I didn’t get that.

britta-bored-reading

While I really did enjoy the story, I’m not sure I would read it again. It’s not a page turner the same way other stories have been for me, but the topic is interesting and different enough that I’d recommend it to those who find Neanderthals interesting.

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Review: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

TITLE: Novemeber 9 Image result for november 9
AUTHOR: Colleen Hoover
SUMMARY: Fallon and Ben decide not to fall in love and meet each other every November 9th for the next five years. Goodreads Blurb
GENRE: New Adult | Fiction | Romance
RATING: 3/5
WARNING: Not suitable for children.  Continue reading

Review: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

TITLE: Persepolis Image result for persepolis book cover
AUTHOR: Marjane Satrapi
SUMMARY: Marjane tells the story of her childhood and teenage years living in Iran in the midst of the Islamic Revolution.
GENRE: Graphic Novel | Memoir | Coming of Age | Non-Fiction
RATING: 4/5
NOTE: I read the The Complete Persepolis which has all the volumes in one book.

Persepolis shows why it is important to read about authors from different cultures from ours. Thanks to Marjane’s graphic memoir, I learned so much about Iran’s history and it’s people. In all honesty, I knew very little about Iran, Iranians, or the Islamic Revolution (or that there even was an Islamic Revolution). But after reading this I know about these things a lot more than I did before.

I think it’s an important read especially today that there are so many misconceptions about Muslims (although I think it’s changing… hopefully). Living in the US we’re so used to “othering” Muslims and this book more than anything shows that we’re more alike than we think. They care about their families, about their country’s future, and… Madonna (this was the 80s). It debunks the stereotype of the meek Muslim woman because the heroine of the story is strong, independent, intelligent, with her own values and political views. I would even go further to say she’s a feminist. Unfortunately, we don’t associate any of this with Muslim women, and thankfully Marjane Satrapi is changing that with this book.

Image result for marjane satrapi persepolis

Although the story talks about Iran’s history, it is heavily intertwined with Marjane’s life story. She is funny and candid in telling her story, making her quite relatable. She talks about growing up in a war-torn country and the helplessness feeling she got as a result. She also tells stories about her family, friendships, and boyfriends. There is something everyone can  to relate to.

The art is simple and exclusively in black and white, however I really liked it. I also enjoyed the writing and the way she told her story, but for some reason or the other it didn’t captivate me a 100%. The only reason I didn’t give it a 5 is because I got bored halfway through and it took me a long time to finish it. I can blame this on school, work, reading slumps, myself, but I never felt that need to put aside everything else to read this (and trust me, I’ve had this happen to me before).

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Other than that, I would still recommend this book because everything I mentioned before.

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Review: Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang & Arrival

TITLE: “Story of Your Life” Image result for story of your life ted chiang
AUTHOR: Ted Chiang
SUMMARY: Dr. Louise Banks is hired by the U.S. military to communicate with the recent arrival of aliens on Earth.
GENRE: Short Story / Science Fiction
RATING: 5/5
NOTE: The movie adaptation is called Arrival Continue reading

Review: On Edge by Andrea Petersen

TITLE: On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety 
AUTHOR: Andrea Petersen
SUMMARY: In this semi memoir and nonfiction book, Andrea Petersen shares her experience living with anxiety disorders while also discussing what experts on the field have to say about it.
GENRE: Nonfiction | Memoir
RATING: 4/5 Continue reading

The Problem With 13 Reasons Why

I’m not going to take back my opinions of how good the show is, because it is, but I do have one issue that I can’t get past from.

Image result for thirteen reasons why show

Last week I was working on on a post about books and shows that portray characters dealing with mental issues. Initially, I had 13 Reasons Why on the list, but then it dawned on me that it also didn’t belong on that list (sort of like Clay). The other books on the list talked about mental health and how debilitating and problematic it can be to live with them, but they all had one thing in common. Their protagonists received the help they needed. None of them died. For those reasons, I found myself removing 13RW from that list.

On a post that’s about dealing with mental illness, I didn’t want to include a story whose character dies in the end. I wanted it to be more positive, to let people know that there can be an issue, and more importantly a solution to it too.

I know that in the real world it doesn’t always end on a happy note, and 13RW reflects that, but shouldn’t we also be able show how people can overcome it? In the show, Hannah doesn’t get help. She only talks to one person who fails to see the problem, and then she gives up. She could have talked to her parents or friends, but chooses to give up easily. That’s not the right message to show people already struggling with similar thoughts.

What’s even more mind boggling is that the show never addresses the possibility that Hannah might have been suffering from some type of mental illness. In my opinion, this a failure on part of the show because most suicide victims also suffer from mental illness.

Everyone is talking about how great the show is and how it’s raising awareness on serious topics, but without someone saying there is another way to cope with these hardships, it’s hard to get past this glorification of suicide. I’m afraid people aren’t going to see the message the creators of the series originally intended to show its audience.

Moving forward, I hope 13RW remedies this problem by having other characters get the help they need, like Jessica. Because more than anything, people need to hear the words, It will get better.” 

As someone who has experienced issues with mental illness, showing how other people get through it, can motivate others do the same.