Author:Lisa Lareau and Charlie Boring

Publisher:Outskirts Press


The Last Neanderthal Clan presents an interesting story set in a fascinating period of human evolution, the late Pleistocene epoch, when the ice ages were winding down. It is reminiscent of Jean Auel’s Earth Children series but different in significant ways. Auel’s books focussed on the adventures of her heroine, almost to the point of becoming escapist literature. Liberties were taken with what archeology teaches. Lareau’s approach is quite different. She puts archeological evidence first and weaves a story line to fit it.

This science-first approach should not be construed to imply a weak plot. Quite the contrary. Interbreeding between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon is treated in a realistic yet romantic fashion. Decimation of Neanderthal man is addressed in a believable manner showing the contributing factors and way in which it probably happened by relating how the last clan came about and what they had to do to survive. We end up pulling for this harassed little clan in their flight from Cro-Magnon hordes.

While interesting, this book is not without defects. Chief among them is the use of redundant and repetitive words, phrases and even sentences. This and a proliferation of word choice and graphical errors signal that the book was not adequately edited. Points are belabored in overly complete sentences that leave nothing to the reader’s imagination. It is a testament to the quality of the story itself that I wanted to keep reading through to the end in spite of these problems.

Two technical things also weakened the book. A secondary story involving modern day archeological digs and a randy historian, contained in Chapters one and thirty-three, add nothing to the story and should be bypassed. Perhaps they are intended to support the position that the novel is based on archeological evidence, however they remain an unnecessary digression. Along the same line, the author sometimes reverts to a phrase such as “that we now call” or “a distant cousin of modern day” to clarify what is described. It would be easier to simply use the modern name for animals, etc. and not drag the reader 30,000 years away from the action.

A rigorous editing would take this book from good to great. Frankly, it makes one wish for a second edition. Nevertheless, The Last Neanderthal Clan remains a worthwhile read. It satisfies a craving to understand early human life styles while providing a captivating story line.

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