For most of my thinking life, I’ve wanted to read Clan of the Cave Bear. I’m not altogether certain why, I just knew I did.
But, of course, as life goes, one thing got before another, excuse after excuse as good as any, and I found myself in my mid 40’s without having had the pleasure.
So, when I started my uThM program, I immediately added the book to my reading list.
(You can read all of my book reviews here.)
So, now that I’ve finished this book and have checked a long over due item off my bucket list, let’s talk about it….
What did I Like About This Book?
I think this book started something for me. Or, at least, it was supposed to. It didn’t really answer any pressing, fundamental, underlining questions I had about society, or lifestyle choice, but it did provide a great deal of relief from the stresses of the day whenever I would dip into it.
It’s really a great story.
The main character, Ayla, literally has the weight of the world on her shoulders. The world. Her world. The future world.
It’s difficult to imagine what it would feel like to have your world so irrevocably changed in a second with the earthquake the destroyed the life she’d so recently been born into.
There is no record of her family before being adopted by the Clan. It’s surprising that she made her way, so alone, lost, devoid of any kind of hope, only to be rescued by the chance passing of an entirely foreign group of people.
Can I really say people?
It’s a question that is brought up again and again in the other books.
But, Ayla’s strong and daring personality and character hold her fast to her instinctual mission, despite her circumstances.
I’m kind of a sucker for a good story, especially a good romance. Pitting the culture Ayla was raised in against her own instinctive culture she was born into was brilliant.
It brings up many questions about life, about culture, about the extent of nurture vs. Nature.
How do we communicate so that we can be understood? Does it matter what we say if we can’t? Is understanding all there is – without it, we’re just making noises in the air?
In the story, Ayla’s nature trumps her ingrained obedience to the Clan, which allows her to rebel against them, and she teaches herself how to hunt and fend for herself in the wild.
This is good, as she will soon find herself cast out of the group she was raised in, dead to them, ostracized.
Not only does she have to leave her son to the hands of fate, but she loses the only parental figures she’s ever known.
Their deaths result in Ayla’s life being irrevocably altered yet again. No longer part of the Clan, no longer assimilated into the group of people that accept her.
She finds herself alone in a vast and hostile world.
What did I NOT Like?
Some of the writing I did not care for. Have you ever had the feeling like you’re being jerked around by the back of the neck? Tossed like a rag doll?
That’s what some of the writing is like in this book. Excessively detailed, maybe? More like, detailed in all the wrong places.
I really don’t need mini history lessons, and I certainly don’t need them with suspect innuendo.
I also do not care for stumbling into a porn scene when I thought I was reading a pre-history novel. Sex is, apparently, a part of life for most living creatures, past and present. But, that does not mean we need anatomical depictions with every intimate encounter.
There is such a thing as tact. There is certainly a way in which we can utilize implication to our advantage without pulling back the curtain and exposing our characters so needlessly.
I guess there is a motivation for all this gratuity, though. The old adage apparently still applies.
There is indeed a time and place for all things under heaven. Just knock it off with perverting my fiction already, okay?
Overall, this book was really great. It’s actually been a long time since I’ve found a story I’ve been able to sink my teeth into, let alone that I find interesting enough that I went on to read its sequels.
Yet, I can’t imagine how an experience like Ayla went through in this first book would actually feel like.
To be left alone at such an early age, without hope. To be adopted into a new world, a foreign world, only to be raised under constant stigma, told you’re ugly, wrong. To be abandoned, cast aside, only to discover a new life of solitude, of animals, of near mystical interaction and companionship.
It’s hard to imagine lives like these ever truly existed in the past. Such an alien world, utterly bereft of modern conveniences we enjoy today.
This story – the idea of it – reminds me of the natives Abbey wrote about in Desert Solitaire when stumbling around in the canyons of the desert.
Their houses were high up on the cliffs, the steps long since eroded away by wind and water. But, those houses remain on that ledge long after their inhabitants had disappeared.
They had moved to those cliffs at some point in their past, out of fear maybe. Possibly due to paranoia or superstition.
Whatever the reason, they lived lives completely and utterly foreign to our own. And, then, without word, they vanished without a trace. Left the desert and left their homes in tact.
Will this one day happen to us? It seems as if our way of life will continue on for all eternity, yet our very existence has only been so in this iteration for maybe 100 years. Before that, the world was a much different place. Life was much different when lived. There were different ideas and mentalities about life and death and the supernatural world.
Will my home one day become an abandoned shell that some foreign life-form will stumble upon and gawk at in awe and bewitching speculation?
Discovering the Earth’s Children Series
As I dug into the book and read its background, I quickly discovered it is not just one book. It is a series.
Earth’s Children Series.
Once I finished Clan of the Cave Bear, I jumped into the next book and the book after that. I believe I’m now working on book four.
Needless to say, there are many more reviews for this series coming.
Is it a story of exploration an discovery, one of love and death, of friendship and magic and mystery and tragedy.
It is truly a wonderful story, even despite the pornography.
In the end, I highly recommend the Clan of the Cave Bear and the other books in the series. They are big books, and sometimes hard to get through, but well worth it if you do.
So, I think I’ll head over to my ebook reader and see what Ayla is up to. Until my next review…..
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Excerpt from Our Daughter:
“Okay, mom,” Randy said.
“You behave yourself and be nice. You’re lucky to have company while you wait for the doctors.”
The woman turned and started back the way she came.
“The nurse said it would be twenty or thirty more minutes, so we’ll eat quick and be back up here before they take you in, okay?”
“Sorry for him,” the woman said to Katie as she walked by.
As the woman left, Katie noticed the boy moving around again on the bed. Before she realized what was happening, the tiny lump disappeared and she could hear the faint sound of bare hands and feet on the tile floor.
He was low crawling under the beds toward her.
A moment later, Randy popped his head out from under the nearest hospital bed, craning his neck around to look up at her.
“Hello, there,” Katie said.
Randy disappeared back under the bed, the bed sheet draping down almost to the floor. Katie could still see three little fingers pressed to the tile.
“What are you here for?” Katie asked, readjusting her seat in the chair, trying to get the ache in her chest to lessen.
For whatever reason, the wheelchair was really uncomfortable.
“Why are – ”
Randy’s voice trailed off for a moment as he looked around.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m getting my leg fixed,” Katie said. “See?”
Randy poked his head back out from under the bed and looked at the leg she was pointing to.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“The doctor said it’s broken,” Katie said. “Shattered.”
“Can you feel it?” Randy asked, able to stay out from his hiding place.
“I can feel it, but it’s not too bad,” Katie said, then tapped the IV in her arm. “This thing is giving me medicine of some kind for the pain. At least that’s what the nurses said.”
“Why are you – ”
Randy stopped mid-sentence.
He scooted out from under the bed entirely and slowly crept over to her on all fours.
“What are you, some kind of spider?” Katie asked, giggling a little.
“What are you?” Randy echoed.
He was now only about a foot away from her chair and sat there, his legs folded up under him, gawking up at her.
“What are you staring at me for?”
“I’ve never – ”
Randy put out a hesitant hand and ever so gently touched her arm.
“Are you some kind of ghost?”
He looked around again.
“Are you – ”
He leaned in, talking in a whisper.
“Are you dead?”
A nurse came around the corner and stopped abruptly, spotting the empty bed in the far corner where Randy should have been.
“Randy Andrews,” the nurse said, her hands now on her hips. “You get right back into the bed and you stop playing around, please. They are ready for you in surgery.”
Katie watched as Randy scrambled on all fours under the beds and back up onto his, pulling the sheet back over top of himself again.
She started to ask him about his question, but couldn’t get the words out before his parents appeared at the door.
Katie sat there quietly, watching Randy stare back at her from under his sheet. She glanced over at his parents and the nurse, noticed Randy’s dad had no hair on the top of his head.
Are you dead?
What kind of question was that?
The snap of the wheel locks being disengaged on Randy’s hospital bed jarred Katie out of the confusion she was in.
The doctor she’d first seen was now at the door, waiting for Randy.
He was his surgeon.
They wheeled Randy out of the room, his parents following right behind, disappearing to the left, heading for his operating room.
The pre-op room was empty again.
Are you dead?
What kind of crazy question was that?
The nurse came back through the double doors.
“It won’t be long now,” she said.
Katie tried not to think about the dull ache growing just behind her sternum.
The nurse disappeared around the corner as Katie watched the double doors to the operating rooms slowly shut.
Buy my book Our Daughter and begin the adventure of a lifetime, as you uncover the mysteries behind Katie Cadora’s new life after the horrible accident that stole her mother away from her. Will she find sure footing again? Will the pain ever stop? Will she discover the secrets her new foster family are keeping from her? Is the boy’s question right? Is Katie Cadora actually dead?
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But, trust me when I tell you, there are deceivers in our midsts! Get started in this bone chilling suspense novel right away and find out why….sometimes….you’re just better off DEAD!