Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

Title: Galapagos
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Genre: Literary
Publisher: Dial Press
First published: 1985
Pages: 366

Rating: 6 out of 10

Kurt Vonnegut, author of Cat's Cradle and Breakfast of Champions, among others, is one of those authors who I'm always interested in reading.
When I picked up this one at my local used book-store, I began reading it immediately.

This book is a satire, revolving around themes of evolution and humans. An eclectic group of people are heading to the Galapagos Islands on a vacation cruise, but are stranded there and left as the only remaining humans on earth, due to a natural disaster which exterminates everyone else.

Like all of Vonnegut's works, this one dashes from topic to topic, person to person, and setting to setting. It can be a bit confusing, but Vonnegut's concise and clear wording catch up to the story, and keep the reader informed.

The plot focuses almost entirely on how people got to the island from which all human life evolved (into seals), not on humans after evolving into another species. The back cover of my edition suggested differently, so this book wasn't exactly what I was expecting.

If you would like to be picky, you could say that this book is just a bunch of talking, without actually going anywhere. And this is not entirely false... Any other writer would never have been able to pull this off, but Vonnegut seems to marvelously hover on the edge of utter boredom and destruction of his plot, all the while spinning it around into entertaining, quite enjoyable reading. It is almost baffling. After finishing this book, I had to think for a moment to figure out exactly why I liked it. There wasn't even a plot!

But, let this only serve as a testimony to the author's cleverness.
This book is also pretty funny, which I rarely say, and written in a simple, stating-the-obvious, entertaining sort of way.

Underneath the lighthearted wording, however, lies a much deeper message. What is humanity? Is the world better off without humans? Do our "big brains," as Vonnegut here calls them, do us more harm than good?
Vonnegut has constructed yet another sharply insightful book.