Book Review: When The Killing’s Done by T. C. Boyle
June 28, 2011 13 Comments
This is T. C. Boyle’s newest book. I don’t run fast to the book shop when one of his new book is out, but I do try to get it sooner rather than later. Yes, I am a bit of a fan. I’ve read about 7 of his other books so when there’s a new book, I am certainly interested in reading it.
When The Killing’s Done: What it is about
The book begins when the grandmother of Alma Boyd Takesue (one of the main characters) is shipwrecked and washes up on Anacapa, an island naar the coast of the Californian city Santa Barbara. There she discovers many, many rats colonising the island.
Years later Alma, a National Park Service biologist, and her colleagues plan to eradicate this non-native species from the island so the native species can flourish again. Publicly opposing the plans are David LaJoy and his girlfriend Anise (and the rest of their animal welfare group).
When the National Park Service persists in their plans to kill the rats, LaJoy and his group take matters in their own hands to try and stop the killing from happening.
Later, the book turns to a few decades before in Santa Cruz, an island neighboring Anacapa, where Anise’s mother finds a job working for a sheep ranch and the much younger Anise grows up on the island until she outgrows it. Having set the scene on Santa Cruz, we then move forward in time, with more eradication plans by the National Park Service, now on this island, and more opposition from LaJoy and his group.
In the end, the story revolves around whether you should or should not kill animals for the sake of the welfare of other animals. Even LaJoy himself has to make that decision, and he almost gives up his principles.
The main question is whether you should try and restore an original ecosystem or leave the new ecosystem, however faulty, uninterfered with. And where do you draw the line?
When The Killing’s Done: What I thought
I loved the writing of this book. As always, Boyle’s writing is very literary and precise. Sometimes too much so. There were details that weren’t important and the book was a slow read for me.
The story was interesting: nature vs. humans, humans vs. each other. However, I didn’t like the order of the story. Moving back into time to when Anise was young broke up the story too much for me, and it made everything quite confusing. I’m not sure how much we really needed to know about Anise, but the shifting back in time wasn’t something I enjoyed.
I didn’t agree or disagree with either of the opposing parties. I would have liked to have felt drawn to one position and then start doubting it when I find out more about the others’. Not so.
Alma and LaJoy were the main characters (except for the historical interruption where Anise’s mother was the focus of the story), but I didn’t like either of them. I didn’t get any idea of what Alma’s job really was (she was spending a lot of time behind her desk, doing what?) and she didn’t seem as clever as her biologist diploma would suggest she was. LaJoy was an unlikely character, a wild-life preserving activist with dreadlocks who was also the owner of several successful stores, living in a nice, expensive house.
In the end, though, it was a good reading experience. The sense of location was great and it was interesting to think how far your should go in preserving certain wildlife at the cost of others.
I got this book: at my local bookstore
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 369
First published: 2011
Genre: literary fiction
Extra: Check out my review of East is East by T. C. Boyle
Independent Literary Awards: This book will not be my favorite fiction title that is published this year, but if it’s yours, why not nominate it for the IndieLitAwards, the book awards from book bloggers in several genres. For more information, check HERE.