Thursday, March 6, 2014

Out of the Cave by Cotton E. Davis

The year is 2036. Fifteen-year-old-Kelly Tracer moves to Rivertown, Missouri, population 1900, where she enrolls in the local high school to begin her sophomore year. Imagine Kelly's surprise when she learns of another newcomer to Rivertown High, a sophomore like herself: a boy from 40,000 years in the past. A Neanderthal.

Further imagine Kelly's shock when she learns Neanderthals were not fellow Homo sapiens but were instead a seperate species of humans unto themselves. She remembers the boy being time transported to the twenty-first century from watching the news when she was six years old. Now, nine years later, he is being mainstreamed.

Kelly is further surprised when she sees Adam (the name humans have given him) in the flesh. Like his long-extinct people, he is heavily muscled with thick brow ridges above his eyes and possessed of a protruding muzzle of a mouth and only a slight chin. Then there is his humongous, spreading nose. More thuggish than simian-looking, Adam's primitive looks put Kelly off. Scare her even.

Kelly gets another surprise. Adam speaks English like an American. Raised by scientists since his sixth year, he sounds just like any other American kid, except for a touch of bass in his voice's timbre. Also, Adam is nothing like the dully fierce caveman stereotype Kelly expected. Aside from being shy, he is mild and thoughtful and quite considerate of the feelings of others. Adam is also very mature for his few years; an evolutionary response, according to his paleoanthropologist adoptive father, to living in the harsh conditions of a major Ice Age.

Not surprisingly, Kelly finds herself liking him.

You guessed it, Kelly and Adam will eventually become an item. But, before that, they'll go through enough tribulations to try the patience of a saint. After-all, the world is no more perfect in the year 2036 than it was in Adam's time.

This book starts out as a brilliant idea.  In the not-too-distant future, time-warpers have gone back nearly 40,000 years and returned with a 6 year-old neanderthal boy.  After a two-year-long battle, his adoptive parents are able to get him away from the institution that treats him like a specimen rather than a child.  Adam, as he was aptly named, is now fifteen and his father has decided it's time for him to become socially acclimated by sending him to high school.

At this stage, we mostly devolve into high school drama.  Will Adam make the football team? Will he actually get to play or just warm the bench?  Will our little high school love triangle work itself out?  All along the way, we also have authority figures explaining historical backgrounds of 'cavemen' and 'time travel'.

If you can look past all of the high school drama and 'teaching moments', there's actually a viable story here.  Keep a close eye on Adam.  Even though he's been in human society for nine years, he's just now beginning to figure out who he is and who he was before he was transported through time.  If you can keep the story from Adam's perspective, it's actually quite heart-rendering.

*I received a cpy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Shawn

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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