Friday, June 12, 2015

The People in the Trees; Hanya Yanagihara

The People in the Trees; Hanya Yanagihara
Doubleday-2013

After totally falling in love with this author's dark, yet captivating, 2015 offering, A Little Life, I knew that I had to try her debut book, The People in the Trees.

I finished this book about 6 weeks ago, taking notes along the way as I read.  It's difficult to say that you enjoyed a book when the protagonist is evil and has done the unthinkable, but this book was another addictive read. It's a story that will make many readers think about some tough moral questions about prolonging life if it were possible and, whether horrible people can still be respected and be capable of doing great things.  For theses reasons, writing this review has been one of the most challenging tasks I've taken on in a while. This may also be the book that attributed to my reading slump once I finished --so good yet intense.

In this story protagonist, Norton Perina is a brilliant scientist yet, possibly an evil human being. He was accused of molesting one of his many (40+) adopted children from a Micronesian tribe in U'ivu where he, along with anthropologist, Paul Tallent had been doing research on a lost tribe.  Their research turns up more than expected when they discover some forest dwellers who seem to live forever. Their secret to immortality just may have been achieved by consuming the meat of a rare turtle.

As the story opens Norton is in jail, serving time for the molestation charge. As a prize winning Nobel scientist, while in jail, he is encouraged by his memoirs. Through a series of letters to his former associate the reader learns more and more fascinating facts about Norton and his research. The revelations will amaze, disturb or at least shock some readers. The reader gets to ferret out the fact from the fiction, from a sometimes unreliable narrator.

Blending science with fiction, this is one of those rare debut novels that isn't an easy read, but it is a worthwhile one. I doubt that I will ever read another novel that moved me as much as this author's book, A Little Life, but that being said, The People in the Trees is certainly an amazing debut novel.

4.5/5 stars
(audio and print)

(Another book that was read/reviewed by Jackie@Farm Lane Books)

26 comments:

  1. I read this just before it came out and, like you said, it's hard to say you enjoy it...but it definitely made me pay attention to Hanya Yanagihara. They're so different, but both of her novels blew me away.

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    1. Shannon -- this author has real talent to be able to write like she does. Two novels, so very dark and yet different, and both written in a way that makes you not want to miss a single word on the page.

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  2. I still need to read A Little Life...

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    1. Hop to it JoAnn - you are missing out on a fantastic experience.

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  3. I've been curious about this one ever since reading A Little Life and have heard mixed things about it. Glad to hear you loved it - I might give it a whirl at some point!

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    1. Nothing, I doubt, will ever impress and impact me as much as A Little Life did, but this was brilliant as well.

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  4. It sounds very intriguing. Tough question---Can horrible people still be respected?
    Food for thought---sounds like a great read.

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  5. I find books like that fascinating and I agree, enjoy isn't always the best word to use to describe your reaction to such a book.

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    1. Kathy -- yes, enjoy seems out of place here, but you get my point LOL

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  6. I think that sounds interesting too!

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  7. Well I just read your review of A Little Life and I think I'll pick this one up as well. I imagine my library has them but I have the feeling I may be reading these more slowly than my usual speed.

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    1. Dar, These two books made me read at my slowest pace ever. Mostly because, I did not want to miss .

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  8. This definitely sounds like a book that is an experience to read, but a difficult one at that. Your review shows us the depth of the story and its impact. I'm not sure my heart could read this during the summer, probably a better fall/winter book.

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    1. Fall/winter would be great times to read these Kim.

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  9. Sounds rather too dark for me today. I have to be in the mood for dark subjects. Now P.G. Wodehouse I could read any day :)

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    1. Terra, it is true, sometimes we need to be in the "right" frame of mind for a darker read.

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  10. This sounds so interesting! I haven't read this author before, but you really make me want to give her books a try.

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    1. Wendy, just make sure you are not feeling blue when you begin. Very intense reads --especially A Little Life --my favorite.

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  11. Yeah. I love A Little Life so much I can see myself picking this one up next.

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    1. A Little Life is one of those rare books that I read so very slow. Mostly because the writing is beautiful and intense, but mostly because I wanted to share the pain of the main character as weird as that may seem.

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