The book: The Land of Painted Caves (Book Six of the Earth’s Children novels) by Jean Auel
Short review: Booooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Longer review: THIS? THIS IS WHAT I ANTICIPATED FOR NINE YEARS?!?!?
What a piece of shite.
I loved The Clan of the Cave Bear. I first read it when I was thirteen and I’ve re-read it more times than I can remember. I liked the next three books, too, although they weren’t as good, and although they had more than one foot planted firmly in bodice-ripper land. The fifth book was good and interesting, in that Our Two Heroes (well, really, The Heroine and her Sexy Sidekick Manlove) met characters from Manlove’s past and prepared to live there happily ever after. We even got to meet a few delicious villains chugging on the Heroine Hateraid. I was SO looking forward to this final, satisfying conclusion in which Heroine and Manlove would raise their daughter, make a few more miraculous discoveries (pretty much the entire history of human innovation is thanks to ideas from the Heroine), and suitably punish the villains — 1) Mean Whore, Manlove’s former bang-mate; , 2) Brute, the self-hating part-Neanderthal; 3) Drunky, the neglectful alchoholic father; and 4) Evil Priest, who isn’t that interesting.
Here’s what I got instead:
45% of the book: re-hashing events and characters from the previous five books. Because apparently when a new book comes out it magically inflicts amnesia on anyone who read the former books. Who knew you could insert a Neurolyzer into an electronic book? Or maybe it was working correctly in the hardcover version and it’s only eBook readers who didn’t get wiped and thus suffered through the insane amount of rehashing the past.
45% of the book: Descriptions of painted caves in Europe, stone age practices and techniques, and the time-appropriate flora and fauna. Especially the painted caves.
DUDE. IF I WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CAVES OF EUROPE I WOULD BUY A NON-FICTION BOOK ON THE CAVES OF EUROPE. THIS IS NOT THE FRICKING DA VINCI CODE. THERE ARE NO PICTURES TO ACCOMPANY THE TEXT. I DO NOT CARE WHICH REINDEER IS FACING LEFT AND WHICH IS FACING RIGHT. I DO NOT CARE WHETHER THERE IS A MAMMOTH SUPERIMPOSED ONTO A HORSE. YOU ARE BORING ME PAST TEARS AND INTO SHEER SOUL WITHERING. DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200, JUST KILL MY PSYCHE WITH BOREDOM.
8% of the book: “New” stuff about the characters. Junk that’s supposed to be character development or plot continuation but is so poorly written that I found myself shrieking and jumping up and down in protest. REALLY???
Allow me to give you an example:
Ayla found herself truly enjoying the company of Levela, Beladora, and Amelana when they weren’t visiting another Cave or Summer Meeting. They did things together with their children.
And then they collectively saw Spot run. “They did things together with their children.” That’s a sentence with all the poetry, majesty and interest of a cat turd on my carpet. Although I’m pretty sure Rajah puts more effort into those than the author put into that craptastic sentence.
Or how about this one?
She untied the waist thong and squatted down, but when she stood up to pull her leggings back on, she was surprised to see four strange men staring at her. She was more offended than anything.
“She was more offended than anything.” Somewhere in Cali a valley is missing its teenage girl.
1% of the book: Actual new information, occurrences or developments that involve our characters and are interesting.
And the final 1% of the book: Finishing off the Book 5 Villains.
(That’s overgenerous, by the way. It was more like 0.03, but whatever, I’m rounding up.)
Want to know how they end up?
Evil Priest . . . ummm . . . gets kicked out of the priesthood for lying that he was called into the priesthood. Then he steals a bunch of stuff and leaves to go pretend to other tribes that he really is a priest. *yawn*
Brute, the semi-neanderthal, goes crazy and runs off into the night. I’M NOT KIDDING. THAT’S LITERALLY HOW THE AUTHOR TOOK CARE OF HIM.
Mean Whore . . . gets back together with Manlove. Despite the fact that the entire series is built around the great love between Our Heroine and Manlove, despite the fact that Auel told us FOR FOUR WHOLE BOOKS how AMAZING and INTENSE and UNIQUE and UNMATCHABLE Manlove’s feelings for Our Heroine are, he gets all frisky when the Heroine is busy becoming a priest and decides to bang Mean Whore, who’s been trying to get back in his pants for a long time. When Our Heroine finds out, he deserts Mean Whore because he never cared about her, and so Mean Whore moves back to her former cave.
THAT’S ALL. SHE REALIZES THAT MANLOVE DIDN’T CARE ABOUT HER ANY MORE THAN SHE CARED ABOUT HIM SO SHE MOVES. Sweet sappy sassafras, I came up with better punishment plots when Malibu Barbie tried to steal Ken from Island Barbie.
Drunky the neglectful alcoholic father . . . is invited to get busy by our hurt and devastated Heroine. He promptly gets beat to hell by Manlove for screwing Our Heroine right in front of him. Drunky will, as long as he lives, be the martyred victim and a reminder that Manlove screwed Mean Whore and went Mike Tyson on Drunky.
It makes me want to cry.
There was this beautiful world, and wonderful characters, and a really interesting past, and all these amazing potential plots, and the author decided instead to lovingly vivisect every bit of it over 757 pages of dreck.
What a frickin’ WASTE.