I recall now that I tried reading this book a few years ago, and gave up before finishing the first chapter. Something about the writing style just put me off. I was pleasantly surprised that it was much easier to listen to. Maybe because I could tune out the parts that didn’t quite interest me and focus on what I was doing (usually a puzzle or some household chore), or maybe because some of the duller parts were cut out. There was inclusion of some dramatic music and sounds in the background (rustling leaves, insects, rain, animals screaming, etc) which was sometimes an enhancement, sometimes a distraction. It was also kind of odd to hear a woman’s relatively gentle voice describing scenes with blood, gore and violence- as the dinosaurs were often attacking each other or killing their prey.
It’s about dinosaurs. A female utahraptor is the main character, though the story is told in third person. It’s basically her life story, as she leaves her natal group and strikes out into new territory. How she encounters other utahraptors, forms a new hunting group with a sibling and helps raise its young, finds her own mate and struggles with the conflict- stay with her sibling whom she is strongly bonded to, or follow the pull of a new relationship with the attractive male. She mourns the loss of young, struggles to learn how to survive in a new ecosystem, scavenging along the seashore. Facing new predators, and trying to learn to catch new prey. Really cool was the depiction of a loosely symbiotic relationship with a pterodactyl, an aerial scavenger, which developed gradually over time. I liked that detail. I was kind of surprised at the adamant sense of kinship the raptors felt in this story, and intrigued by the author’s description of how they detected that. The visual imagery, sense of movement and presence of the landscape is keen in this story and sometimes had my attention riveted with the pictures it painted in my mind. But then I’d be distracted by a modern reference, something described as a move in a bowling game, for example. It really threw me out of the narrative several times.
It was interesting to see how self-aware the author made these dinosaurs- and the contrast in their minds between instinct and reason or emotion. (I think the only other book I’ve read that explores that so clearly is Ratha’s Creature and its sequels). But then there were constant references to the future (to this story) arrival of humankind, pointing out over and over that unlike any other animal, only humans were self-aware, could look into the past, etc. Felt a bit inconsistent.
Borrowed from the public library, audiobook abridged version. Narrated by Megan Gallagher, 2 hours 52 minutes listening time. (Disappointingly, this means I might have missed out on quite a lot- one of the online reviews says that the audiobook version is only two or three hours long, only has a few chapters, and ruins the story with its incompleteness. I did feel like a lot of the chapters started and/or ended abruptly, so now I really wonder what was missing). Completed on 1/4/24 (some of my catch-up has gotten out of order).