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Thursday, July 21, 2011

When The Killings Done

by T.C. Boyle
audiobook: 11.2 hours
narrated by Anthony Heald

About the Book (from my library's description)

When the Killing's Done: A Novel"From the bestselling author of The Women comes an action-packed adventure about endangered animals and those who would protect them.

Principally set on the wild and sparsely inhabited Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara, T. C. Boyle's powerful new novel combines pulse-pounding adventure with a socially conscious, richly humane tale regarding the dominion we attempt to exert, for better or worse, over the natural world. Alma Boyd Takesue is a National Park Service biologist who is spearheading the efforts to save the islands' endangered native creatures from invasive species like rats and feral pigs, which, in her view, must be eliminated. Her antagonist, Dave LaJoy, is a dreadlocked local businessman who, along with his lover, the folksinger Anise Reed, is fiercely opposed to the killing of any species whatsoever and will go to any lengths to subvert the plans of Alma and her colleagues.

[...]. In dramatizing this collision between protectors of the environment and animal rights activists, Boyle is, in his characteristic fashion, examining one of the essential questions of our time: Who has the right of possession of the land, the waters, the very lives of all the creatures who share this planet with us?

When the Killing's Done will offer no transparent answers, but like The Tortilla Curtain, Boyle's classic take on illegal immigration, it will touch you deeply and put you in a position to decide."

My Thoughts

I really loved THE TORTILLA CURTAIN because Boyle made me think about the illegal immigration of Mexicans into California in new ways. He presented people on both sides of the issue and made me feel for them all.  I was hoping for the same thing from this book, but it isn't exactly what I got.

In this book the controversial issue tackled by Boyle is invasive species versus naturally occurring species.  If a non-native species is endangering the survival of a native species, what is the right course of action to take?

As in TORTILLA, Boyle presents both sides by introducing characters on either side of the issue.  Alma, the scientist, is working to eradicate the non-native species on the islands.  I understood her and her beliefs and I felt that she was a realistic character.  Dave is with an organization similar to PETA and he is working to save the lives of all animals on the island regardless of how they got there.  Dave's characters was more volatile and unpredictable, and I didn't always understand his motives.

The book and the issues it tackles are fascinating and I enjoyed it.  However I felt that Dave's character represented all the negative stereotypes of an animal rights activist, and this led me to have very little sympathy for his cause.  Had Boyle chosen to portray the animal rights side of the issue in a less extreme way I think I would have gotten more from the book, that I'd have been more challenged by both sides of the issue.  By focusing on the extreme, Boyle enabled me to distance myself from that side of the issue; that is not what I was hoping to do.

All that said, the very very end of the book made me reevaluate some of my opinions and it turned part of the story on it's head.  Well done!

So I didn't love this one but I didn't dislike it either. It's definitely worth reading, and I'm certainly going to look for more by this author.


bermudaonion said...

It sounds like this book makes you think, and that's always a good thing.

Helen's Book Blog said...

I have yet to read this book, but am interested in it because TC Boyle lives around the corner from me. And this is all based on real stuff in our town. The animals were pigs on Santa Cruz Island, of which my dad has partial overseeing job and the animal rights person is the owner of our local newspaper. Truly, the above-the-fold articles usually involve an animal (even turtles found in someone's yard) while murder, embezzlement, etc are below the fold or inside the paper.

I think I'll have to read this one since I am a Boyle fan anyway.

Unknown said...

This book sounds intriguing and I like the way Boyle presents the issues. I adore animals but zealots like Dave make it difficult to support their cause, no matter how noble & worthy it is. I think it's too bad Boyle didn't use a less extreme, calmer character to present the animal rights issues. I wonder if Boyle's portrayal of Dave was a comment on animal rights activists and the issue of animal rights?...hmmmmm....

I'm not sure I can read this a lot of animals die? I have a lot of difficulty stomaching this kind of thing.

Either way, I think I'll read Tortilla Curtain first!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

bermudaonion - Definitely, but I was hoping to be provoked into thinking harder, like he did in the last book I read by him. Ah well!

Helen - Wow, I didn't realize it was based so closely on real events! You'd probably really enjoy it in that case. And it wasn't that I DIDN'T like it, I just expected more from it.

Amy - Animals do die (they are exterminating entire species to preserve others) but it wasn't overdone in my opinion. I do recommend TORTILLA CURTAIN more than this one but this one wasn't a bad read.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I loved Tortilla Curtain as well (read it twice) and this one is on my iPod. So happy you thought it was good. (I'm hoping there is not anything dealing with animal abuse in it--is there?)

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Diane - I don't remember any animal abuse so you should be fine. I hope you enjoy it!

Kailana said...

This book sounds a bit different from the other books popular nowadays, so it might refreshing even if it isn't great...

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Kailana - It is definitely different - that's what I like about this author!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding me that I need to read Tortilla Curtain!

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