Most helpful critical review
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Predictable, one-sided story, black and white characters
on July 20, 2000
"The Loop" takes place mainly in Montana ranch country and focuses on the tension between ranchers and naturalists over the right of wolves to roam free on land that is owned by or leased to ranchers, who resent losing expensive cattle to the wolves. It also tells the story of a woman, Helen, who has had bad luck with men, and Luke, the awkward teenage son of the town's most prominent rancher who doesn't share his father's political views. Helen comes to town to help study the wolves and the stage is set for a relationship that reflects the political conflict.
Although I enjoyed learning a little bit about the life of the wolves, I'm afraid I found this book predictable and unsophisticated. It was a major flaw that not a single sympathetic character was on the side of the ranchers, who I believe have equally as legitimate a claim as the naturalists. Instead, the father, Buck Calder, is presented as the voice of the ranchers, and he's made out to be a phony, narcissitic, insecure, philandering man who intimidates his sensitive son and props up his ego by hitting on attractive women. Even when he makes reasonable arguments for the ranchers, you dislike him so much that you take them to be motivated by his need to seem important. Evans even goes so far as to create a thinly drawn character who has dedicated his life to killing wolves and yet, in the end, decides that what he's done is wrong for reasons that, if they were ever going to have an impact, should have convinced him years before we met him. It seems to me that if you're going to write a book about this subject, you should make an effort to present both sides of the complex issue fairly. (As much as I believe in protecting wildlife, it seems to me most of us would resent it if the government told us that we couldn't defend ourselves against something that directly threatened our hard-earned livelihood even when we're on our own property. The issue is not as simple as Big Bad Greedy People vs Good-Hearted Altruistic People.)
Although I liked Helen and Luke, I wasn't completely convinced by Evans' portrayal of Helen as she gets over her failed relationship. There were some other somewhat interesting characters, though they weren't as multidimensional as I'd have liked. In general, people underwent what are in real life difficult transformations simply by waking up one day and suddenly realizing the right thing to do. On the whole, the book was an easy read, a nice break from some of the more demanding books I've been reading, but not one I'd recommend.