(Audio)Book Review: Ivory and Bone

Ivory and BoneDetails:

Title: Ivory and Bone

Author: Julie Eshbaugh

Narrator: Michael Curran-Dorsano

Publisher: HarperTeen

Audio Publisher: HarperAudio

Release Date: June 7th 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction

Pages: 371

Audio Length: 8 hours & 41 minutes

Synopsis:

A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

My First Thoughts:

I’ve been doing a lot of paint work in my parents’ house and I like to listen to audiobooks while I paint. I listened to all the new books that I had in my library, so I decided to grab some more since I had a lot more painting ahead of me, and that’s when I found this book. The cover is quite beautiful and alluring, and the synopsis intrigued me. I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, but I know enough of the story that I was curious to hear what the allusions could be. And I’ve never read a prehistoric fantasy before, so I decided to give it a listen!

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

This audiobook took me a while to finish, and I finished the painting before I finished the story. When the story first began I was captivated. The narrator had a lovely voice and it made for smooth storytelling. However, after the first chapter I was a bit put off.

The story is told in first person, through the eyes of the main character Kol, which was fun because it has been a while since I’ve read a story through the perspective of a male character. After the first chapter, though, I had to do a bit of adjusting to listen to the story. The majority of the book is Kol telling Mya a story to keep her conscious, that story was how they met and the events that led up to the moment in chapter one. So for about thirty chapters and maybe 8 hours of listening, it’s a bunch of “I did this” and “you did that”.  It was a type of storytelling that I was sort of familiar with, but definitely not completely comfortable with. Years ago, I had read some fanfiction of a similar writing style, some of the stories were told in second person, while others were a mix of first and second person, but the ‘you’ was always the reader. In this story, the ‘you’ was Mya, and after a while this form of storytelling really grated on my nerves.

Honestly, how realistic is it for one person to tell a story, one that spans many weeks, and is never interrupted? If I were Mya, I would be interrupting Kol every so often, to either ask questions or to tell him off because he didn’t understand my side of the story. Instead, Mya just sits there the entire time listening to this long winded story of Kol and the day that changed his life, and the several weeks after it. The idea was an interesting concept, have one character tell another character all the backstory that lead up to the moment of conflict, but it was poorly executed. Most verbal story telling focuses on the moments that really matter, on the details that are important to the story. Instead, Kol spends many long winded minutes describing every feeling he has had the past several weeks, going into great detail about every thought he’s had, especially all the times he’d been injured. When I’m injured, especially in a lot of pain, I don’t have nearly as many thoughts that Kol apparently had. One thing most authors forget is that when the adrenaline is pumping, the brain is focused on survival and nothing else, not how painful it is, not what it all means, not on every single minute detail, and especially not on anything outside of the body! But no, poor Mya listened to several paragraphs of Kol’s thoughts every time he gets injured, and there were quite a few times. You even get to hear all the thoughts going through his head while he walks or boats to different places. I would dare wager that most of the story is all of the thoughts going through his head, not actions, not anything super-duper important to pass on to Mya. If all of the long, tedious, moments spent inside Kol’s head that had absolutely no importance to the story he was telling Mya, the book would be less than half the number of hours and pages.

Again, it was an interesting concept to have one main character tell another main character the backstory, but it was executed poorly. Kol’s story was far too long, telling many details that honestly did not matter to the overall story. It was unrealistic for a story that long to not be interrupted by Mya, and it was unrealistic for a person to have the attention span to listen or even tell the story.

Looking beyond that, though, this story wasn’t too bad to listen to. It was fascinating to hear the explanations of the tribes various customs and their religious views. The major religions today have gods that are described as male, but this story has a goddess as the major divine being, which lends to the later cultures having a Mother-Earth figure.

It was interesting to read a story where it was important for the male characters to find brides and marry. Most stories that I have read with a male lead doesn’t normally focus on match-making, if there’s romance it’s treated more as an accident than intentionally. In this story though, Kol and his brothers feel pressured to find wives, especially since there’s no young girls in their village, so that their tribe may continue. Kol is even more pressured by his younger brothers to find a wife, because they cannot marry until the oldest is married. I’ve never read a story with this concept, and it makes a lot of sense for the setting and world the author created.

As I have said earlier, it’s been a while since I’ve read a novel through the sole perspective of the hero. It was a nice and interesting experience. Just like reading through a heroine’s view, there were a few times in which I wanted to strangle Kol for being stupid about the other gender. But overall, his character was enjoyable to get to know. If you don’t consider that the book is mostly him telling a long winded story to another character who was there, even his thoughts were interesting to listen to and consider. Though, every time I remembered that he was telling the story to someone else, those thoughts really appeared useless to the writing itself. I really don’t have much to say about the other characters. There was nothing extraordinary about his family, though I found the brothers’ interactions interesting to listen to. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much from Mya and Lo. Eventually, I could see and understand their actions, but overall I didn’t really feel much for them, which is always disappointing.

As for the Pride and Prejudice allusions in the story…they were there if you stretched your imagination and used a magnifying glass. But, again, I have not actually read Pride and Prejudice, so it is quite possible that there are shared elements that I’m just missing myself.

Final Thoughts:

If you forget that the majority of this book is storytime by Kol, then it can rather enjoyable. However, at least with me, when you remember that Kol is relaying an extremely long, detailed story to another character, who was there for most of it, the ability to enjoy the story may plummet. I believe that this story would have been so much better if it was told in only first person the entire time, not a mixture of first and second person. The author’s idea of having one character tell the backstory to another character would have been better for a shorter novel, something half as long as the one she published. It’s confusing, frustrating, and lacks any touch of reality. In reality, Mya wouldn’t have the attention span to sit and listen to the entire story, and I believe Kol would’ve gotten bored going into every minute detail. The story could’ve been better if there were breaks in his storytelling, in which Mya interrupted him by asking questions or arguing with him about her actions, or possibly Kol stopping to check on Mya every so often. That would’ve been believable, and would provide a nice break to the many dull moments in the story.

If you’re interested in reading a young adult novel through the hero’s perspective, this book may be for you. Or anyone who enjoyed reading Pride and Prejudice might find it fun to read Ivory and Bone and search for the promised allusions to the former. And anyone who loves to read historical fiction, or want to read a novel set in the prehistoric era, might be interested in this novel about tribe wars and mammoth hunting.

Rating(s):

3/5

This book was a first for me. It was the first Young Adult book that I’ve read through the male character’s first person point of view, and the first based in prehistoric times. Overall the book had an interesting concept and was enjoyable to read. Like any book there were moments of frustration, but the biggest frustration that contributed most to the rating was the author’s choice in telling the story. For a shorter novel, her choice would have been fine, but this book was far too long and the flow just wasn’t there. However, the world the author built, the characters, customs, and religion made the book enjoyable. Any reader could tell the amount of research and planning the author did in making this book, and I find that worth noting and praising as well.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

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