|Posted by douggoodman on June 4, 2017 at 7:15 PM|
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
First, a clarification: I am not related to DJ Goodman.
As a reader, I wish I could find more books like Lord of Stone. As a writer, I wish I'd written it. Lord of Stone is like King Kong and Michael Crichton's Congo, but even more interesting. Lord of Stone has its roots in expedition adventures that seek to discover strange creatures in far-away places. But what makes this book stand out is its modern feel and its character study. Trudy Hollis is primatologist famous for her work in the 80s and 90s among gorillas. When Lord of Stone begins, though, the famed primatologist is floundering. She is really struggling with life. She is divorced, alcoholic, suffers symptoms of depression, and is ridiculed by her peers and the mainstream media because she had to shoot a gorilla when a little boy fell into the gorilla's enclosure. Trudy is every person who has ever had to make a hard decision in life and then had to live with the consequences of making an unpopular decision for the right reasons.
There is another aspect to Trudy that is very important to her and to the book. She is a lesbian. Not only that, she is a lesbian returning to African countries that have very strict morality laws and horrible consequences for being gay. This makes the story so much more compelling and adds tension to everything that happens once Trudy and the expedition enter the Virunga Mountains in search of the lost gorillas and their god. This is again pulled right out of recent headlines. I found myself even more invested in this character and her struggles. I also applaud the writer. It is not easy putting yourself out there and writing about gay and diverse characters. But I think there is a lot of payoff in this cast. They feel real, and what they are experiencing feels even more real, even if it is an adventure centered around a giant gorilla.
It would have been very easy to start this story with a giant gorilla killing people. I think the D.J. Goodman made a wise decision in letting this story unravel slowly. The tension builds as the characters work their way first to Africa, and then into the jungle mountains. Like a good Crichton novel, this journey would never have happened without a few guiding questions that need to be answered. They are related to the sociology of the gorillas and whether or not wild gorillas are creating art, religion, or if something else is at play. I like that this story asks those questions, and it asks those questions without every feeling like a wikipedia entry about mountain gorillas or gorillas socialization. That is a credit to the writer for keeping the story flowing, which it does by emphasizing the characters and their plight.
Overall, this is a fun, fantastic book that I would recommend to anyone who likes African adventures or stories about giant monsters.
Categories: Brief Reviews