Caveman at the End of the World
A non-specific place only named The City, sets the stage for Caveman and the End of the World and Ella Pearson’s remarkably traumatic story arc. She is a marketing executive, and as the novel states, it may not have been what she was meant to do, but she is good at it. Ella Pearson, as we first meet her, seems to have her life in The City figured out, until all the pieces, and what she understands about her existence, unravels in extreme hyperbolic fashion.
When she returns home one night to her boyfriend Andy’s apartment, she discovers a tiny, hairy caveman-like intruder, which results in a big commotion and police involvement. This is untimely, because Ella had decided earlier that day to break up with Andy. It’s also bizarre, because Ella seems to be the only one perturbed by the presence of this Supplicant, as they are called throughout the novel.
She is advised to call Social Services to resolve the matter, upon which she finds that she is legally bound to serve as the caveman’s guardian, and is forced to move back in with Andy and his daughter, Clara. Exhausted, confused, and irate, Ella is desperate to get out of having to live with an ex-boyfriend and being responsible for a Supplicant she wanted no business with. To make matters worse, her boss presents her with a vague assignment at work, with her only lead being a birth certificate that has been redacted almost in its entirety. This puts her in complicated standings with a curious government agency and the Office of Sentient Affairs. While they give Ella the runaround, author Brad Rau has put her in mysterious and unbelievable—but humorous—circumstances.
As Ella’s life continues to fall apart around her, the novel pokes fun at institutions, such as organized religion and bureaucratic red tape and even the importance of what it means to know who we are and where we came from. As a protagonist, Ella is believable and very empathetic. Her reactions to the plot twists are genuine, and by extension, so are those of the readers. But, despite starting as the lone skeptic of these new circumstances, as she delves into who she is and why the Supplicants have suddenly appeared without question, we see that her love for her own little intruder only grows.
While original and funny in concept, Caveman at the End of the World is also very dense. The overall message of the author feels muddled among the various elements to the tale, and there was a delay before realizing what, exactly, was happening at the end. The plot becomes very involved as Ella’s life goes from stressful to simply unmanageable in just a matter of chapters. Some sections of the story probably could have been streamlined, but overall, it was entertaining, well written, and different.
This page was created by an SFBR staff member.
|Page Count||434 pages|
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