Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

This is one of the first books I ever Mooched, way back in 2008, when I first joined BookMooch! It's been sitting on the shelf ever since. Having finished the Outlander series, I needed a new series to keep me busy (at least until the next one comes out), so I decided to start in on the Earth's Children series.

This book tells the story of Ayla, a young girl left to her own devices when her mother is killed in an earthquake. She fends for herself for a few days, but is near death when she is discovered by the Clan of the Cave Bear (or one small clan of it). Ayla is not one of them, she is an Other. As far as I can tell, the Others are Homo sapiens, while the Clan is composed of Homo erectus. It's an interesting premise: two competing lines of humanity, one destined to die out, one destined to prosper. Ayla struggles to learn the ways of the clan, so different from her own instincts. She tries to adapt, to become a good clan woman, but her impulses sometimes get the better of her. This book tells the story of how she becomes Clan and how she maintains her differences, too. Will she be able to fully adapt to the ways of the Clan, or will she be cast out as too different to be accepted?

I enjoyed the book. I wish I had read something else that Auel wrote before I read this. The writing seemed simplistic, but that may have been a conscious choice, to better portray the early form of communication that the Clan engaged in and to echo their primitive language - they do not speak aloud, but rather use hand signals. I'll be continuing on with the series...I want to see what happens to Ayla and the rest of the Clan. I'd give this book 3.5 out five Whatevers. Enough to make me want to read more. Recommended for history lovers, those interested in the very early beginnings of man, and those who enjoy sweeping sagas.