From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Boyle (The Women) spins a grand environmental and family drama revolving around the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara in his fiery latest. Alma Boyd Takesue is an unassuming National Park Service biologist and the public face of a project to eradicate invasive species, such as rats and pigs, from the islands. Antagonizing her is Dave LaJoy, a short-tempered local business owner and founder of an organization called For the Protection of Animals. What begins as the disruption of public meetings and protests outside Alma's office escalates as Dave realizes he must take matters into his own hands to stop what he considers to be an unconscionable slaughter. Dave and Alma are at the center of a web of characters—among them Alma's grandmother, who lost her husband and nearly drowned herself in the channel, and Dave's girlfriend's mother, who lived on a sheep ranch on one of the islands—who provide a perspective that man's history on the islands is a flash compared to nature's evolution there. Boyle's animating conflict is tense and nuanced, and his sleek prose yields a tale that is complex, thought-provoking, and darkly funny—everything we have come to expect from him. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* Boyle’s great subject is humankind’s blundering relationship with the rest of the living world. In his thirteenth novel, he transports us to California’s Galapagos, the surprisingly wild Northern Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. There a stormy, cliff-hanging tale of foolhardy and treacherous journeys unfolds, anchored to the tough women in two indomitable matriarchal lines. A 1946 pleasure cruise gone wrong shipwrecks Beverly on the island of Anacapa. Decades later, her ambitious biologist granddaughter, Alma, oversees the National Park Service’s hubristic efforts to rid Anacapa, and neighboring Santa Cruz Island, of invasive animal species in organized killing sprees. Dreadlocked businessman Dave LaJoy, a man of rage and aberrance, along with his lover, Anise, the last child raised on Santa Cruz, where her mother worked on a doomed sheep ranch, incites reckless protests with chain-reaction consequences. Incisive and caustically witty, Boyle is fluent in evolutionary biology and island biogeography, cognizant of the shared emotions of all sentient beings, in awe over nature’s crushing power, and, by turns, bemused and appalled by human perversity. Boyle brings all these powers and concerns to bear as he creates magnetic characters and high suspense, culminating in a piercing vision of our needy, confused, and destructive species thrashing about in the great web of life. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Famous for his avidly attended public appearances, Boyle has seen his readership multiply following the huge success of The Women (2009). --Donna Seaman
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