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116 Reviews
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful must read!
The Bone People is, quite simply, the most powerful, moving, stunning book I have ever read. The characters are well drawn. I wanted to hate Joe, but he was in so much pain that I couldn't, really. I never excused what he did - and Hulme did not ask the reader to do that. She challenges the reader to look at our society as a whole; to see what we do to people and how we...
Published on April 14 2002 by Ms Diva

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars rapid descent into New Age gibberish
I feel compelled to rescue any readers from the misleading plethora of 5 star ratings below. The first two thirds of this book are good (not great). The characters are intriguing, in part because of the exotic small town New Zealand locale, and the plot unfolds in a meandering pattern that leads the reader on while flirting with frustrating said reader.
The last...
Published on Oct. 5 1999 by Bill Chaisson


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful must read!, April 14 2002
By 
Ms Diva "cycworker" (Nanaimo, B.C. Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
The Bone People is, quite simply, the most powerful, moving, stunning book I have ever read. The characters are well drawn. I wanted to hate Joe, but he was in so much pain that I couldn't, really. I never excused what he did - and Hulme did not ask the reader to do that. She challenges the reader to look at our society as a whole; to see what we do to people and how we as communities play a role in creating some of the violent, terrible situations that result in children being abused.
I know that some people found that the mysticism in the latter section of the novel took away from the book. I disagree. I found that it fit in well with the story and helped flesh out some of the messages the author was trying to get across. Some of the imagery in this novel is absolutely breathtaking. I have never been so utterly moved and transfixed by a novel as I have by this one. It challenged my perceptions and it made me a different person when I was finished it.
The book is quite long, and it can be slow in a few spots. I found that I had to read it twice. I admit I did hate Joe the first time I read the novel; I really only began to understand him the second time I read the book. This is a complex, multi-layered work that speaks to a wide range of issues: child abuse, spirituality, community, and culture.
I highly recommend this novel to everyone. You may not like it or agree with it, but you will be impacted by it. It still haunts me today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, May 10 2002
By 
Laura (Yateley, Hampshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
A true piece of artwork. On the edition I have one of the comments from reviewers calles Hulme a poet, I couldn't agree more.
The short pieces of Maori languge through the book confused me at first but I do feel that they add something very personal to the feeling of the book (they are translated at the back of the book, although you don't really need to fully understand them).
After the fith reading of 'The Bone People' I can easily say this is my favorite book.
Don't get this book out of the library - you really have to buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bone People, Oct. 29 2001
By 
mizpah (Cambridge, MA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
A uniquely told and emotionally engaging story about a man, a woman, and a child, all with very different voices and perspectives, that is narrated, in turn, in each of the three voices. While at first the changing first person narration can be challenging, as can the interspersed Maori dialect, in time both techniques are powerful in bringing the three characters and their stories to the reader. At times very dark (and sometimes violent), and at times truly beautiful, this is an amazing work of writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maori Mysticism, Nov. 3 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
The Bone People is a wonderful, life-changing book that is rich in character, vivid in detail and encompasses almost the entire range of human emotions. The plot revolves around three lost souls: Kerewin, an artist who can no longer create; Simon, a mute boy who washed up on a deserted beach; and Joe, Simon's almost-stepfather.
At its heart, The Bone People is a romance but it is also a story that takes a look at the dark and serious side of life as well, especially child abuse. No one should be put off by its sometimes depressing subject matter, though. The Bone People is a book that, surprisingly and wonderfully, always manages to celebrate life in all of its complexity. In fact, much of it is lyrically beautiful despite the darkness of some of its themes.
The Bone People is extraordinarily well-written (enough so to garner Hulme a Booker Prize). This is a book with a style and voice all its own, something highly unusual in a first novel. But, unlike some recent novels, The Bone People is never a case of style-over-substance; Hulme weaves her magic with both her engrossing story and her unique, almost stream-of-consciousness style. There are a lot of shifts in time and perspective in this novel but they are always smooth and perfectly placed. Nothing about The Bone People seems jarring or out-of-place. Hulme's prose is almost musical: andante, adagio, allegro, and we find ourselves reading to the cadence she sets.
The Bone People has an extraordinary and wonderful sense of place. Part of this is inherent in the New Zealand setting and the Maori words that decorate the text. The beach scenes are especially well-written and we can really smell the sea and feel the warmth of the sand between our toes.
A few things about The Bone People might seem disjointed at first. The prologue, for example, only makes sense after you finish the book and then reread it. But, to Hulme's credit, it is entitled, "The End At The Beginning," so this should come as no surprise.
The ending, which gives some readers a little trouble, might be more easily understood if we only realize that Hulme is dealing with her characters on an individual basis at this point in the book. Once we realize that, any sense of a deus ex machina ending disappears and all makes perfect sense. It is mystical, yes, but it is a mysticism inherent in the book's story and so it belongs there, rather than being inserted.
The Bone People is a lyrical and beautiful book that takes a sensitive look at some of life's most serious problems. I wish there were more books out there that measured up to the standard it set.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book haunts me in the best way., Aug. 2 2000
By 
Gunnar Madsen (Berkeley, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
Extremely rich, deep and dark and fulfilling. The style is, for me, reminiscent of Kesey (one of my all-time favorite authors), lots of shifts in perspectives, jumps in time, and yet always clear and narrative. But this story is so far beyond style. It's violent and beautiful, full of the deepest contradictions that make us human. I've never read a clearer depiction of how love and violence and need can be so wrapped up together. And I was far from disappointed by the ending. The 'redemption' of Kerewin and Joe mirrors my own personal experience - one has to let go, all the way, even unto death, in order to begin living fully. The journey rings true for me, even if their transcendence is perhaps too 'magical' for belief. But I love the magic, too. In following this book down such dark paths, I was grateful to have light shining at the end, a hope, a faith that transcendence is possible. Thank you, Keri, for this marvelous work. You inspire.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars rapid descent into New Age gibberish, Oct. 5 1999
By 
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
I feel compelled to rescue any readers from the misleading plethora of 5 star ratings below. The first two thirds of this book are good (not great). The characters are intriguing, in part because of the exotic small town New Zealand locale, and the plot unfolds in a meandering pattern that leads the reader on while flirting with frustrating said reader.
The last third of this book is absurdly bad in all senses. The plot becomes a ridiculous New-Age-tussle-with-cancer story. The style becomes a really horrible attempt at magic realism. The prose loses all discipline (and it never had much) and turns into some undergraduate writing seminar exercise in the use of the tangled metaphor coupled with the pointlessly histrionic use of adverbs and adjectives. Help! I only finished it because I'm stubborn. That this book won any kind of prize is a crime.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book is like an old friend, Feb. 18 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
This is the kind of book for one who likes to read.I have read it 4 times over the past 10 years and I get new things out of it each time I read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Harrowing, Dec 31 2001
By 
booknblueslady (Woodland, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
Three is the magic number of Keri Hulme's book The Bone People. Three people, Kerewin Holmes an artist who lives by the sea in an enchanted tower which she built, Joe a Maori man who lives in a house of pain of his own creation and Simon the lost child who searching for a home, band together to form a strange family.
These three become involved with each other in a dance of death and destruction and a battle for redemption of the human spirit. They make up the family of man or the bone people, brittle ungiving beings who are attempting to fight the isolation of their souls and find fulfillment in involving themselves with each other. These three are represented by a woman Keri the artist, a man Joe the lost warrior and the child, Simon the hope for the future. Can they join together and heal each other or will they work to cause each other's destruction. That is the question of the Bone People.
Keri Hulme's has a gift with words. Her stream of consciousness writing is beautiful and compelling. Despite the beauty of her words, the story is harrowing and heart breaking. We so often hurt those who we love most. The assault on young Simon is a violence both verbal and brutally physical. Are the young resilient in nature or are they brittle and easily broken? Is the child truly the savior of the man? These are questions which Hulme's seems to ask.
Throughout the book the theme of family is recurrent. What comprises a family and what obligations do family members have to each other. The family is a bright promise kept , a joining of human lives and spirits. The members of the bone people are drawn to their own isolation. They have found diverse methods of self destruction and use them skillfully. The reader journeys through the book simultaneously loving and hating the members of this strange family.
I cannot help but recommend this book, but with the precaution that it is quite difficult reading, both in plot and style.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quite amazing., Nov. 15 2001
By 
Ellen C. Falkenberry "ellenf" (Birmingham, AL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
I bought this book while visiting New Zealand on the recommendation of a friend who had never actually read any of Hulme's work.
Keri Hulme possesses a unique, almost addictive writing style. It took a few pages for me to get into her rhythm, but once she had me in her spell I simply could not put the book down. An exquisite blend of prehistoric myth and modern angst.
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3.0 out of 5 stars an extremely descriptive tale., Oct. 22 2001
By 
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
The book The Bone People is very original. All the characters have serious personal problems that unravel a bit with the plot. The problems make the characters seem real even though they are extreme. The author Keri Hulme seems to know a lot about the plants and animals of the area as well as the traditions and the language of the Maori people, she adds all these into the book. The descriptions in this book are incredible. The author especially enjoys describing the relations between characters, and the ways they communicate. Because of the immense description the plot at times seems lacking and slow, because of this I'm having a hard time making it though the full 445 pages. Keri Hulme does have a unique but rough style of writing. The characters say exactly what they are thinking, and at times this can be surprising and funny. The Main character Kerewin has intentionally isolated herself from the rest of the world. That is until Simon; a mute and feisty eight-year-old boy nearly threatens to jump through the window of the tower she lives in. She becomes attached to this boy and his father who both have as mysterious and deeply troubled pasts as does she. The author leaves a lot up to the reader's imagination. I'm hoping the end of the book will explain it all. I think this is the type of book you either love or don't, so if you love complicated identities and intense description you will love it.
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The Bone People
The Bone People by Keri Hulme (Paperback - Nov. 9 2001)
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