The Clan of the Cave Bear
By: Jean M. Auel
# of pages: 516
Series: Earth’s Children (#1)
Challenges: A to Z
Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear.
A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly–she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.
Review: I searched a bit to see if there were any articles that mentioned how the animated movie “The Croods” was inspired by this book from the 80s, but I didn’t see anything about that being the case. Basically, The Clan of the Cave Bear is an amazingly elaborate and detailed version of “The Croods.” I mean, really, they’re incredibly similar.
After a cave in destroys their cave, a clan wanders to try to find a new cave. On the way they meet Ayla (instead of Guy) who looks different and thinks differently than they look and think. The clan takes her in, but over the years they are constantly challenged by her ideas and feelings. Her mind works differently than theirs. She is able to come up with new ideas (sound familiar?), something that hasn’t happened in the clan for thousands of years. Their brains aren’t capable of thinking of new ways of doing things and the fact that Ayla’s brain is able to make new connections and that she challenges the clan’s traditions is both fascinating and frightening for the clan members.
The book is remarkably detailed. I found myself amazed that it sounded so real and had to keep reminding myself that we don’t know that much about early people. This is mostly fiction, but the author must have researched hunter/gatherer ways of life and what there is to know about early humans.
I became intensely wrapped up in Ayla’s story. She kept showing her differences in dangerous way and I’d like be like, NOOOO. Not again, please get out of this danger. Please, clan, don’t send her away. I was a little emotionally caught up in the story!
Two people I know who have similar tastes in reading to my own said that they really enjoyed this first book of the series, but didn’t like the following books. If you’ve read all the books what do you have to say to this opinion? Should I keep reading the series or leave it at the first book that I enjoyed?
Why I gave this book 4/5 stars: Amazing world building, interesting plot, and good characters.