My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have not read any Vonnegut before so I can only base my opinion on this one book. I have positives and negatives.
On the positives: This was a fairly quick read, it zipped along at a good pace and at no point did I wonder why I was bothering. It was thought provoking – the premise is that a small group of people are stranded on one of the small uninhabited Galapagos Islands in 1986 while the rest of the world’s population is destroyed so over the next one million years they are the sole ancestors of the rest of the human race which slowly goes through a reverse of evolution to become creatures more akin to seals. When it comes down to it, it makes sense! Vonnegut talks about the fact that the human brain is now too big and thinks too much about things, usually thinking about something leading to striving to make that thought a reality, sometimes to it’s detriment. I sometimes feel that I think about things far too much rather than just getting on with things and accepting things as they are. As there is no need for hands and fingers, and fish becomes the staple diet, the humans devolve into seal like creatures with flippers. But even after 1 million years they still laugh if someone farts.
On the negatives: I don’t know if Vonnegut has a style, but in this book I found that he repeated things a bit too often, as if we might not remember a previous bit of the book if he didn’t remind us. Also he put an asterisk before the names of people who were going to die soon, and I found that each time I saw an asterisk it kind of interrupted the flow of my reading; no matter how many times one appeared I didn’t get used to it.
Most of the book is set in 1986 leading up to how the survivors arrived at the island, and the type of people they were. I’m not sure if a disparate group of individuals from 2011 would have managed to restart the human population.
It was interesting to meet Manadarax, a small, highly intelligent handheld computer device, slightly reminiscent of today’s iPad, considering this novel was written in 1985.