Most helpful critical review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Well, it passed the time.
on 1 February 2012
I really wanted to enjoy it. A very good friend of mine who shares many similar tastes in film and tv suggested I give this series a try, and so did.
It is clear from the outset that the author knows her subject well; descriptions of the culture (as far as we can tell from archeological finds) seem accurate, and the socialogical interactions between different bipedal species seem plausible. The descriptions of the scenery cast amazing images in my mind, as did the fine detail given to every other object encountered.
But the storyline was lacking. Don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike it, but I didn't feel like I had experienced anything spectacular. I think the problem was that there were no character flaws in the protagonist. Ayla experiences a problem; she solves it within a few pages. She solves it on her own with no assistance from anyone. She is, in essence, perfect.
Auel tried to imply that there were flaws, like having Ayla call herself ugly on numerous occasions. Except that the description of the character makes it clear that she could easily appear in a beauty pageant, and would win. What she is, is different. That's not a character flaw, that's just appearance. Yes, she has a scar from an attack by a cave lion, but it isn't debilitating or disfiguring; it doesn't hinder her in the slightest. In the end, it turns out that it is a pretty amazing thing to have!
The villain of the work is pretty one dimensional too. He, for no real logical reason, hates Ayla. And then does some nasty things for no other reason than to be nasty. No shades of grey, nothing remotely redeaming. He is there just to add adversity to Ayla, so that the reader feels sympathy for her. To be honest, I felt nothing for any of the characters.
If you enjoy marginal-thinking page turners where you get contrived problems followed by a solution that you feel has only been solved because the author declared it to be so, then you'll probably enjoy it. If you want to get a feel for what it might have been like to live in that period in a fictional setting, then you might also get something out of it.
But if you like your characters to have depth and to be placed in situations where it really isn't clear how they will succeed (if at all), then this really isn't for you.