November 9, 2013

Book Review: The Cave Man by Xiaoda Xiao

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The Cave Man is an exceptionally moving portrait of a brutalized man named Ja Feng, who has survived punishment in a 3 x 4½ foot solitary cell for a miraculous nine months, a time that has forced him to question his basic human faculties.

The Cave Man follows Feng as he is released from his solitary confinement and as he integrates with fellow prisoners who view his skeletal figure and screaming fits as freakish. It follows him through his heartbreaking attempts to assimilate, to reestablish familial bonds, and to seek an ordinary human experience.

Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)

As I expected, it was nearly impossible to find a novel written by an author whose last name starts with X, so from my slim pickings, I chose The Cave Man by Xiaoda Xiao.

To my surprise, the story started out well, with the description of Ja Feng's solitary confinement and the effects of his brutal punishment. When he's first released back into the real world, I could sort of see how his experiences caused the problems that he encountered. But as the book wore on, I lost interest in Ja Feng's life. Perhaps it was the writing, which just didn't seem to flow for me, or perhaps reading about the protagonist's everyday life became boring after the first weeks. Regardless of the reason, after the first quarter of the book, I found myself struggling to get through the rest. Even worse, it felt like many of the things that happened to him weren't related to his imprisonment but rather to his faulty character. That made the story even less interesting. In the end, I finished it only because I had to in order to give an informed review. Needless to say, I don't recommend this book to anyone else.

I read this book as part of the Authors A to Z reading challenge. Next up: Rebel Heart by Moira Young.

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