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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Galapagos aint half bad!
I'm really surprised to see so many people who consider Galapagos to be one of Vonnegut's worst novels. I love his work and I've read many others... I have to say Galapagos is one of my favorites. On the surface, the unconventional style is great. It's told from a million years in the future, with events revealed in non-cronological order. This nonlinear storytelling...
Published on May 24, 2001 by Jason

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Revelatory
If you've appreciated Kurt Vonnegut's work in the past, chances are you will find GALAPAGOS worthwhile. (Though that isn't a sure bet. The one star reviews for this book are filled with readers who enjoyed most of his oeuvre, but hated this one.)

On the other hand, if you have disliked Vonnegut's general themes, tone, style or cynical musings in the past, then...
Published 15 months ago by Bryan Byrd


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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Never approaches the mainland, April 11, 2005
This review is from: Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) (Paperback)
(Spoilers herein)

If the aim of a writer is to forge a unique tone, a unique stance from which to view the human condition, then Vonnegut is a success. The problem is that his ideas often transcend his abilities as a novelist. "Galapagos'" back flap is one of the best I've ever read, but when I finished the actual book I felt as though I was skid over the rich foundation of ideas he wanted to build on. Yes, he's witty. Yes, he has some acute points to make about human hypocrisy. Yes, he's had some of the most original ideas of his generation. In fact, Vonnegut's one of the few who's been able to successfully create a hybrid genre between Sci-Fi and fiction/lit. But lost in his witticisms, innovations (as a writer and a thinker), far-reaching analogues, and hollow dialogue, is the perspective of the ultimate goal of the book: we never take the journey we've been so excited to take. We only anticipate it, and then realize at the end it's passed us by.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Far from my favourite Vonnegut., February 10, 2000
This review is from: Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) (Paperback)
Having read Slaughterhouse 5, Slapstick, Breakfast of Champions, Player Piano, Mother Night and "Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons" (hope I got the last title right), I was itching to get stuck into this one. Unfortunately, I found it repetitive, slow and lacking the depth of character, plot and imagination demonstrated in many of his other works. I'm not saying it wasn't a good(ish) book, but I found it far from being his best. I'm surprised to see the variance in ratings given by other KV fans - I simply can't imagine giving this book five stars, let alone suggesting it's the best book I've ever read.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding work, October 6, 2000
This review is from: Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) (Paperback)
Many Vonnegut fans have a strong aversion to Galapagos. Okay, let's not mince words - they hate it. Contrary to their beliefs, though, I think that Galapagos is one of Vonnegut's very best, and certianly far superior to his most famous work, Slaughterhouse-5.
Galapagos shares something very much in common with my other favorite Vonnegut book, Slapstick. Its plot is coherent. This stands in marked contrast to some of Vonnegut's more famous works. Galapagos, in examining what would happen if humanity experienced a spurt of evolution over a million years, is extraordinary in its portrayal of Vonnegut's view of mankind (however flawed that view may be). In addition, the narrator in this book unveils the new state of humanity in a very well-paced manner, adding just a little new information at a time.
Galapagos was the first Vonnegut book I read, at the age of 8. Many years later, it still strikes me as one of his best, and I am quite glad that I did not begin reading Vonnegut with, say, Breakfast of Champions (which relies in three places on crudely drawn human genitalia for its humor) or Slaughterhouse-5 (which is incoherent at best). Had I begun with another book, I would likely have never discovered the several excellent Vonnegut books, filled with plot and humor (among them Slapstick and Mother Night). This is an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to read Vonnegut.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not so popular but still a favorite humor, December 15, 2006
This review is from: Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) (Paperback)
For many reasons this is not one of the more popular works of Vonnegut. I cannot say I disagree with many of the negative reviews in every respect but still favor this as one of my personal favorites from this incredibly prolific writer. The new characters have a depth and natural/evolutionary humor to them that makes you consider the human condition. The satire is not so harsh as in many of Vonnegut's other works and that makes it for more pleasant reading if nothign else. Not to say I dislike his biting satire at times, it is just that this lighter version of that cutting wit makes for a more enjoyable read. Perhaps that is why the hardcore Vonnegut fans have not liked this book. But, the hardcore fans will enjoy the surprise appearances of favorite Vonnegut characters of the past in this novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not his best book, August 29, 2000
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This review is from: Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) (Paperback)
Galapagos is an interesting book delving into the genre of utopia prediction as only the cynical Kurt Vonegut can. His view of the future of the world is bleak and poignant, but this book, written in 1985, is no where near as funny as some of his previous works. Galapagos seems a bit drawn out and laborious, rehashing old themes that even in the 80's were probably not as pertinent as they could have been. It kept my interest because of the frequent references to the wildlife of the Galapagos islands, and not becuase of the supberb writing I have come to expect from Vonegut. If this is your first Vonegut book to read, then I pity you. Perhaps you would do better to read Slaughter House Five or Breakfast of Champions.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I wish someone had handed this book to me when I was 17..., March 17, 2006
This review is from: Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) (Paperback)
Having a biology background and an innate admiration for the blue-footed booby, Galapagos seemed like the perfect choice for my first Vonnegut novel. I've come off of some very different reading experiences, and Vonnegut threw me for a bit of a loop for several reasons. He's incredibly fast-paced compared to my recent reads. His habit of using frequent paragraph breaks gives his writing style a lilting, punctuated quality that was a bit awkward at first (after the prosaic Irving, for example), but I quickly adjusted. His story-telling style is quite circular, with key events being revealed before they occur, and most of the action being referenced rather than experienced by the reader. There is no central character (or characters) to carry the narrative, but rather a somewhat vague narrator whose purpose in the tale initially seems a bit gratuitous.

So, literary conventions aside, what is the strength and appeal of this unusual narrative? Galapagos is a tale about evolution in the truest sense; not the struggle for survival of the fittest, but rather the random events that shape our world as life is either able to adapt or not based on more chance than true cleverness or ability. It is about how small actions may have large consequences, and even the most isolated incident has some measurable impact on the world. It's about how even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the simplest of life's needs (shelter, nourishment and reproduction) are met. Vonnegut has much to say on the peculiarities of the human race, which he contextualizes with the seemingly strange mating rituals of the blue-footed booby and the other ecological peculiarities of the Galapagos islands. The excesses of our own elaborate culture, as the unfortunate result of our "big brains" as the narrator aptly puts it, seem even more absurd and contrived in contrast.

The omniscient narrator speaks from 'a million years in the future,' where humanity has survived in a barely recognizable form and lost most of the advanced abilities of its more complicated heyday, reverting to a more primitive state. There is a certain amount of preachiness at work here, as it seems that the author has quite a bit to say about humanity's state of affairs. There is, however, a certain wistful sadness in the narrator's reminisces, as though this return to simplicity isn't a prescription for mankind's woes but rather an inevitable ends to the course of ecological destruction and cultural hubris Vonnegut saw us set upon in the 20th century.

As such, I perhaps would have enjoyed this novel more in my high school days, whereas at a jaded twenty-five I feel like he's preaching to the choir to an extent (granted, the novel was written during the Reagan era and certainly the audience would have been more in need of its message then). As an ecologist, I didn't feel as though the biological metaphors made as strong an impression on me as they would on someone who didn't already think in those terms on a regular basis. I felt the book to be a bit underdeveloped for my taste, and found myself wishing the author's ideas were more fully flushed out. With that in mind, I still found Galapagos to be an enjoyable and though-provoking read, even if it did reach me about eight years too late.

~Jacquelyn Gill
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vonnegut's best - Vonnegut even states it's his best book, December 10, 2002
By 
Warren Gammel (Ocala, Florida USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) (Paperback)
I'm amazed at some of the negative reviews of this book. I have most of Vonnegut's books and this is by far his best and it's also my favorite. Vonnegut even says it's his best book.
But don't take my words - or the author's words - read it for yourself and make up your own mind.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Hitchhikers Guide' meets 'Planet Earth', May 12, 2010
This review is from: Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) (Paperback)
I found this book in a $1 bin and was amazed that I'd never heard of it. I love Darwin and Vonnegut, but never knew the 2 men crossed paths. Unlike many who write about the islands, KV doesn't praise Charlie D as a deity. CD is another funny character in a comic story.

I'll spare you the plot, the reader needs faith. Initially, the time travel element seems hokey. But, Vonnegut brings all of the parts together and delivers an important message.

KV's readers are accustomed to odd twists and turns; it's one reason his style is so special. This story starts in a remote land with a really odd mix of characters. I didn't discover the humor of the book until about 50 pgs in. Who is this narrator and what role does he play?

Eventually, I came to understand the brilliance in this novel. Vonnegut had managed to turn a science lesson into a sci-fi comedy. He describes the magnificence of evolution, and the human role, while keeping things light.

This is my favorite of KV's books and I'd recommend it to everyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once again, Vonnegut ends the world., August 5, 2007
By 
Hawk Season (Greenville, NC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) (Paperback)
I wouldn't usually presume to review Vonnegut, as he is among my favorite authors and my bias would tend to get in the way. That said, I was surprised (pleasantly so) by this book. It is the logical middle point between Slaughterhouse Five and Timequake, stylistically, and I would venture to say that it is in this book that Kurt perfected his nonlinear narrative style.

Vonnegut keeps no secrets, through the entire book, as to the sequence of events portrayed. However, the knowledge of impending events does nothing to ruin the book and everything to heighten suspense. The most fulfilling parts in this book are not in the sequence of events, but in the absurd fashion with which said events are reached and in the almost let-down quality of some of the major events when they do eventually occur.

Fans of traditional storytelling: beware. This book goes in every direction at once. No loose threads are left, but not every thread is tied in the same knot at the end... which is, of course, the end of the world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the way to learn about evolution., December 6, 2005
This review is from: Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) (Paperback)
Vonnegut explains the mechanism of evolution in a simple yet profound manner that will bring a smile to your face.
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Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction)
Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) by Kurt Vonnegut (Paperback - January 12, 1999)
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