Thursday, March 21, 2013

Endangered Review

Book talk:  Sophie knew that she shouldn't interfere, but when she saw him on the side of the road, she had to stop.  He was still a baby, but it was clear that he had been restrained with ropes recently and he was covered with sores and bald patches.  Why, out of all the suffering she had seen that day in the Congo, this was the sight that moved her to act she'll never know.  But one thing is for sure: that baby bonobo would change her life just as much as she'd change his.

Rocks my socks:  I am a complete sucker for any story involving apes, so it's impossible for me to provide a review on this book that is by any means impartial.  That said, I absolutely loved it.  From all the time Sophie ends up spending with the Bonobos and the way their social dynamic is described to the way Schrefer resists painting issues like bushmeat trade as black-and-white and instead highlights the complications and lack of easy answers regarding the political issues plaguing the Democratic Republic of Congo.  I remembered hearing about conflict in the area as a side note when studying apes as a child, but this is the first book I've read that ties in the problems facing the humans with those facing their hairier cousins, and does it well.  It was very impactful to read about a dystopian situation that so closely resembles actual events after reading so many far-fetched science fiction ones.  The book isn't necessarily more violent than something like The Hunger Games, but it is far more realistic, which makes it all the more chilling.

Rocks in my socks:  It's a minor complaint, but the first person perspective of the book means that in order to show all the complexities of the region, our narrator has to experience a lot personally.  To believe that she went though everything she did stretches credulity a bit, but stranger things have happened in reality I'm sure.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to fans of animal stories or dystopias.  The plot quickly resembles the kind of survival fiction under a corrupt regime that is so popular in YA fiction today, all while maintaining a strong connection to what is happening with the bonobos to keep animal lovers involved.  The book isn't sensationalistic and if anything perhaps less violent than would be realistic given the situation, but it is still has a lot of violence and death involved.  It isn't for the faint-hearted.  I'd save it for 8th grade and up.


Watch Eliot Schrefer talk about the book and play with adorable bonobos!

Eliot Schrefer also has a website with information about him and the book

The National Book Foundation has a page for the book with extras

Endangered is a contender in this year's Battle of the Kids' Books

Source: school library

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer: Buy it or check it out today!

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