Galapagos Hardcover – Oct 1985
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From School Library Journal
YA Leon Trout, the ghost of a decapitated shipbuilder, narrates the humorous, ironic and sometimes carping decline of the human race, as seen through the eyes and minds of the survivors of a doomed cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Vonnegut's cast of unlikely Adams and Eves setting out in a Noah's ark includes Mary Hepburn, an American biology teacher and recent widow; Zenji Hiroguchi, a Japanese computer genius (who does not make it to the ship, although his language-translating and quotation-spouting computer does); his wife, Hisako, carrying radiated genes from the atomic bombs; James Wait, who has made a fortune marrying elderly women; and Captain Aolph von Kleist. Also included: six orphaned girls of the Kana-bono cannibal tribe, who will become the founding mothers of the fisherfolk after bacteria render all other women infertile. Serious fans of Vonnegut's wry and ribald prose will welcome this tale of the devolution of superbrained humans into gentle swimmers with small brains, but others may find this Darwinian survival tale too packed with ecological and sociological details that trap the story line in a series of literary devices, albeit very clever ones. Mary T. Gerrity, Queen Anne School, Upper Marlboro, Md.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
For many Vonnegut fans, Galapagos will be a disappointment. The story is set ``one million years ago, back in 1986 A.D.'' and concerns the maiden voyage of the Bahia de Darwin to the Galapa gos Islands. The narrator is a ghost, and the main characters are those involved with the cruise. As the narrative devel ops, we learn that people have evolved from having ``big brains'' that always get them in trouble, to creatures with flippersbut they keep getting eaten by sharks. The narration jumps back and forth between past and future, so that there is no real sense of what life is like in the ``present'' of the story, and it is difficult to grasp what these new hu mans are really like. Vonnegut's usual stylistic devices just don't work here. Buy for demand. Susan Avallone, ``Library Journal''
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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THE THING WAS: One million years ago, back in 1986 A.D., Guayaquil was the chief seaport of the little South American democracy of Ecuador, whose capital was Quito, high in the Andes Mountains. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
Vonnegut unfortunately added some pretty annoying literary devices which took away from the stories power. For example he added stars next to the name of people who are going to die soon. Those stars, similar to his so it goes in Slaughter House 5, seem to give away the story line and helps the story very little. This novel is certainly not his best, but because of all the wonderful and detailed side stories and characters it¡¦s a good read for any dedicated Vonnegut reader. I also recommend Cats Cradle, Time quake and Breakfast of Champions for other Vonnegut fans.
It's safe to say that all the essentiall Vonnegut trademarks are present: cynicism, satire, humor, intelligence. But each of those elements falls off from his best work. If I could, I would give this a 3.5, because it's a little better than a run of the mill 3 and not quite as good as a 4.
I like the metaphors of the 6 eventual mothers of mankind breaking the egg barrier by sheer luck. And that of the umbillical cord tethering the ship to the mainland. Yes, they are clever, but Vonnegut makes sure he hits you over the head with comment after comment on these, making sure the reader gets just how humankind's current life began and how similar it is to birth.
Also, you have to admire the Darwinian bashing done by the irony of natural selection having nothing to do with what we will become and having it happen on an island where Natural Selection was born. Again, all the Vonnegut elements are there. Pure Vonnegut. Excellent.
But it seems that Vonnegut gets too caught up in his own cleverness and dwells on it too much. Either that or he expects the reader to not get his ideas to begin with. The novel moves slowly, essentially spinning circles around the idea that our big brains are such a problem in our current stations. Well, current as you and I are in now. But the story so dwells on this, that we lose momentum. We lose focus. We wander around waiting for something more pertinent to happen. Unfortunately, it never really does.
This book has the fodder to be a brilliant novella. But spread over a full length book, it looses some of that.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
this book is fabulous. It's the first Vonnegut book I read, but not the last. After I read this book I went crazy for about 48 hours, crying, trying to find the meaning of life... Read morePublished on June 26 2004 by Virgin-I-A
In 1986 a simple vacation turns into the next journey of man. A ship full of survivors, or fools, end up on one of the islands of the Galapagos Islands. Read morePublished on June 3 2004 by Michael Valdivielso
Vonnegut style! nothing is linear in his books and it is hard sometimes to follow, but stick with this one or Slaughter House 5 and you will have experienced one of the most... Read morePublished on May 5 2004 by Clifford Lynn
Galapagos has more wit, humor and raw fun than most Vonnegut books... yet somehow it still doesn't seem to stand up as much in terms of sheer literary strength. Read morePublished on Feb. 17 2004 by Eric D. Knapp
This is, hands down, one of my two favorite Vonnegut books (Player Piano being the other). I also believe that it is the most unabridged window into Vonnegut's own gut reaction to... Read morePublished on Jan. 9 2004
Galapagos is a no-holds-barred attack against our tendencies towards aggression and destruction, where the only hope for mankind is to start over from scratch. Read morePublished on Dec 18 2003 by Archange M. Chavannes
This book is one of the best books I have read in my entire life, not only is Vonneguts dark satire extremely funny in this book, but the points brought up about humans, as a race,... Read morePublished on June 10 2003
As to Vonnegutï¿½s GALAPAGOS, one is naturally inclined toward charity when reading an author who has spent sixty years of his life to entertain readers. Read morePublished on March 13 2003 by Worldreels
The only fiction that we read on the islands, this strange little novel by Vonnegut (hmm, that's probably an oxymoronic statement) contains quite a bit about the natural history... Read morePublished on Jan. 26 2003 by Glen Engel Cox