A Bone From A Dry Sea
A Bone From A Dry Sea, by Peter Dickinson, is a double story with two protagonists from different times who never (really) meet. Though it didn’t look scintillating, it had some potential. According to the back cover: “Then: Li is a child, yet she is the thinker of people – our ancestors, perhaps – who live between the land and the sea, Her intelligence and her imagination help prepare her and her people for the huge change that is coming.” ZZZZZZ. Okay, that part isn’t that exciting. But there’s more: “Now: Four million years later, the sea is dry. Another child, Vinny, visits the site where her father is one of a team searching for the fossil remains of our ancestors. Her curiosity leads to a discovery that could alter the story of human evolution.” Cool, right? Riiight?
But the book didn’t live up to my expectation. I read it, and read it some more, and then I got down to the last pages. “Okay.” I thought. “There’s gotta be a climax soon. She’s gotta discover something cool.” I finished it. What climax? The “story of human evolution altering” discovery is a shell with a hole in it. Yeah. They discover that the hole was made by scratching a sharp rock against the shell, but instead of the rock being turned, the shell was turned, thus indicating that it was made by a humanoid with less control over its limbs than us. Sure, the hole was made by protagonist No. 1, which at least tells us the reason why the author tried the double narrator thing in the first place, but it’s still a big disappointment.
The characters in A Bone From a Dry Sea are regular. Not great, but not bad either. I don’t think the ancestor characters were really needed – it was like Island of the Blue Dolphins revisited. But they were okay…though they were way more boring than the archaeologist characters.
The plot in the archaeologist part of A Bone From a Dry Sea tries to be too dramalicious. The main character’s parents are divorced (of course) and drama ensues. I don’t need a billion divorce stories. I get the point; divorce is hard on kids. We’ve got it. Why don’t you focus on the real plot? There’s also interestingish archaeologist stuff, and the main point of the story, which is all about humans being descended from sea creatures instead of apes. It was controversial at the time (1993) but I’m not sure what’s happened to it.
A Bone From a Dry Sea is disappointing. It was pretty boring for me. But the theory that it’s based on is kind of interesting. Nevertheless, there are much better books out there. Meh.