OK. I found "Cave" in 7th grade. LOVED it - the survival skills, the plucky heroine surviving against horrible odds, in a completely foreign environment...it was fantastic. When "Valley" came out, I snapped it up - HARDBACK, even! - and devoured it. I liked the dual point-of-view, the survival skills were still there...OK, it was a *little* hard to take the domestication of horses AND cats, but it *did* make sense within the story. (Although Baby was a bit of a deux-ex-machina, but hey - it worked, and I could believe the sequence of events.) Along came "Mammoth".....it was a wee bit of a let-down, but the story still worked, mostly. The relationship conflicts made sense, the reconciliation was believable - so I was happy with it. I wanted to Know What Happened Next, which is a good thing.
Along came "Plains". UGH. Sucked. It was basically them boinking their way across Prehistoric Europe. The few contacts that they had with other people felt strained...the whole book was a let-down. Even though it took *years* for it to be published, it felt like it was written to a deadline....and it was flat. VERY disappointing, but hey - I had so much time invested at that point I wasn't going to skip it. I hoped that "Shelters" would be back up to the first 3 books' standards......but, alas, it was not to be.
I'll be honest - I don't remember much about "Shelters", it was that bad. Yes, yes - Ayla's the first Einstein, she invented everything, and Jondalar is a super-stud. Whatever....I want to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, not what happened 3 books ago. (The repetition - oy! I really didn't need to have the local flora and fauna described in excruciating detail every 2 chapters - I got it the first time. Heck, I got it the first BOOK.) Still, again with the personal investment - I really wanted book 6 to wrap up all the unanswered questions. (Like...WHO are Ayla's people? Does she see her half-breed son again? Does she have a son with Jondalar?????)
So. I heard "Caves" was coming out...and I wasn't excited. At all. Still....I have ALL the rest of them (in hardback, even!), and I like to have complete sets. :sigh: So....I found the first 3 chapters online, and read them...and got worried. The writing....wasn't gripping. I didn't CARE about the story - and that's a bad sign. I've been on this ride for *30* years now (yup. Clan was published THIRTY years ago. Wow...)....and really, really wanted to know How it Ends. However...I skipped the hardback. I had a feeling......
I mentioned yesterday that I had made it to Part 2, and NOTHING had changed in 4 years. Umm.....*that* didn't make any sort of sense. Ayla is being trained to be a shaman (or something)....and in 4 years she hasn't progressed? After ALL she's been thru, she still needs to mark the moon cycles/sun cycles? I thought she had done that in Valley, when she kept track of how long she'd been there...but, OK...whatever. I can deal.....but to not progress AT ALL in 4 years?
And Oh My Gosh, if I had to read about 1 more muddy, painted cave I would have sporked my eyes out. I get it - the caves are sacred. Only we don't know why, and we don't know who did the painting, but they're special. And we have to sing (OH Lord, not that song again!!) to find the most sacred-est spots in the cave. Ayla can't sing....but she can mimic animal sounds, which makes her super-special. :bangs head: (And remember, I didn't finish Part 2!)
So...I hunted for spoilers. Had I had a paper copy of the book, it would have hit the wall. It seems that in Part 3, Auel has Jondalar cheat on Ayla - and SHE DOESN'T KNOW. Apparently, it's been going on for YEARS, and she has no clue. Ummm....no. NO. It has been established that Ayla can read people....how would something like that NOT be noticed??? Especially since we've already DONE this in Mammoth.......And then, Ayla gets so upset she tries to commit suicide??? Again - NO. Not with everything she's already survived - a "cheating" spouse (when, in their society, it's not cheating, not as we know it, anyway) wouldn't be THAT big of a deal. Only this is after she has a fling of her own with someone that the entire first part of the book has established is a loser and she doesn't like/trust him???? C'mon....that makes NO sense at all!
The entire book is a waste of ink and paper. IMO, of course - but NONE of the outstanding questions got answered, not even the ones that were hinted at in previous books (Ayla has SEEN her 2 sons meet.....but they didn't. In fact, she doesn't HAVE another son at the end of this book!!! :bangs head:). It was broadly hinted in at least 2 previous books that Ayla would help facilitate a relationship between Us and Them (Cro-Magnan and Neanderthal) - nope. It's been hoped that Ayla would find some relatives - it's been hinted that she IS of the same clan as Jondalar...but, again NOPE. No tying up of loose ends, no closure......:sigh:
And.....after 4 years of hauling around the overweight First shaman....no one has invented the wheel???? That.....never mind. I've already given up on the series, and I'm tired. Pointing out all the inconsistancies (I mean, in 4 years NO ONE else has tried to domesticate a horse??????) would take all day - and I'm too tired to go there.
I'm very disappointed. After 30 years, this is what we get? *I* could have written a better finale, and I'm not an author! :sigh: Save your money...if you must read it, borrow it from the library. But you're not going to miss anything if you skip it.
Me? I'm never going to get those hours back.......