Long-term followers of this blog will know that I’ve been reading Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children Series with an increasing feeling of a sinking heart. On my shelf, patiently awaiting to be read is The Shelters of Stone. It is the fifth book in the series with the final volume The Land of Painted Caves released last year.
I praised, and will continue to praise, the first book in the series Clan of the Cave Bear. I hope it goes down as a modern classic because it deserves the superb reputation that it has for its rich writing, vivid world and finely crafted characterisation. I also thoroughly enjoyed the second book The Valley of Horses despite complaints from others that little action takes place. I firmly disagree. Ayla’s existence is on a knife edge. She is a young girl on her own, without clan, without a family group to make sure she has enough food, shelter from the elements, fire wood, medicines and all of the other things that will keep her alive. It is a tale of survival and it works well.
It all started to go pear-shaped for me in the third book The Mammoth Hunters as we move away from “Ayla’s Adventures in Ice Age Europe” to teen angst chic lit. Certainly the first half of the book is interesting but the conflict of Ayla seeking acceptance in a world where humans despise or ridicule “Flatheads” while she learns skills at an accelerated rate is discarded as Ayla finds she has a stalker in the form of the creepy Ranec who likes to give her presents to get her to sleep with him. From there, the book becomes what I referred to as “Bella and Edward: The Flintstone’s years” as Ayla practices for the Sexual Olympics with first one man and then the other and both men engage in pissing contests to win her over, normally with Jondalar crying himself to sleep in jealousy. By this point I didn’t care.
In the fourth book, The Plains of Passage we have a road trip. This element of the book is very fascinating as we watch the seasons, the climate, the terrain and the people change as the pair move westward toward France, regularly stopping to collect food, have conferences about collecting food, have conferences about how much food they have, conferences about when they ought to stop next, conferences about whether they should have sex now or later, having sex, arguing because they wasted too much time having sex, having make up sex before realising they’ve wasted time and need to move on. In between all of that they are meeting other people and like a travelling Holmes and Watson solve all manner of mysteries and dazzling the ice age world with how wonderful and inventive they are.
Having just read the synopses and reviews of the final two books at Good Reads (here is my profile by the way) I have decided to call it a day. Neither book interests me having read the blurbs because of the return to the soap-opera and teen angst storyline and as the final book has received one star from most reviewers at the site I see no point carrying on.
If anybody would like to differ, the floor is yours…