I’ve always enjoyed a good historical book, usually the older the better. Well, with The Last Neanderthal, I’ve gone pre-historic. Claire Cameron’s story bounces back and forth between Girl, our Neanderthal protagonist, and Rosamund Gale, and archaeologist excavating a groundbreaking site.
Whenever I immerse myself in a book like this, one that starts quoting numbers and percentages, I ask myself, does the author have the science right? In the end, it’s a work of fiction, make it convincing and reasonable and I’ll run with it. Cameron did exactly that, she gave me a greater appreciation for my Neanderthal ancestors. I felt like I was given an insight into actual events from 40,000 years ago. Cameron made it feel real.
I enjoyed the back and forth presentation of the story. The parallels between Girl and Rose helped to bring the story home; through Rose, Girl became real. Despite the fact that Girl and Rose were separated by thousands of years and some important DNA strands, there was a kinship between the two. This connection wiped away all the differences between us and them.
It’s hard to imagine what life was like before we had all of our gizmos and gadgets; even harder before hot and cold running water and trips to the emergency room when we have a mishap. Cameron took me back to a time when we had fire, and the wheel was right around the corner. The basic conveniences that I take for granted were nowhere in sight; she made this time real, tangible and not that far removed from where we are today.
The Last Neanderthal was a captivating story that I couldn’t wait to get back into. Cameron introduced me to a whole new world that I would love to visit again. I kept thinking over and over again, “How does a species go extinct? In a blaze of glory or with a quiet poof?”