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What do you think of the book?
I liked it but not enough to recommend it. I did not find anything wrong with specifically, but it just did not catch my interest very much.
"That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another's. We see so much only as we possess." - Henry David Thoreau
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As for the canine perspective being involved, I am not intrinsically against anthropomorphic writings. In some cases where the culture relies more heavily on animal analogies and symbolism in their religion and life lessons, I think it can be used the same way that other writings use the perspective of the god's (i.e. Greek writing). However, I thought its use here was not fully utilized and didn't really add anything to the story--it was sort of just there. While the wolf's story did parallel and at times foreshadow the human's plot, it didn't enhance it enough for me.
I admit there was a point where I was actually interested in the plot of the book, but I was really disappointed in the finale. It just seemed rushed, maybe? ...So, they finally face their love and then, with no justification for the timing other than this coming out, Daniel is killed? Say what?! Why does T'Hattan strike at just that point when he has probably had other opportunities--what about this point motivates him? It all just seemed too convenient a death and that the discovery/acceptance of love was glossed over. The power of the moment was lost. Then at the end with the wolves and humans finding makeshift love, I found myself so underwhelmed. To me, it came across as sappy.
I know that was a bit of a rant, but I was really let down by this book. Can someone please give me a reason not to give up on it?
That being said, I (timidly) would like to respond to a couple of comments made about 'anthropromorphism'. The definition of anthropromorphism is "ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing not human".I am wondering what 'human' characteristics the critics found in the depiction of the wolf that was anthropromorphic. Certainly the wolf never spoke.
Was it the ability to think or reason? It would be the height of conceit to think that ONLY humans can think or reason. I have witnessed many situations that would suggest the contrary. But they would only be personal, and therefore would carry no weight in a discussion of this kind. But just today I received my copy of National Geographic in which the thinking and reasoning ability of animals is not only studied but documented. So I would venture to guess that the author of SOTC reasearched that aspect pretty thoroughly.
Was the readers objection based on the fact that it is a particularly 'human' ability to communicate? Again I would say that there was no anthropromorphism here. I say that because the communication between the wolf and others - be they human or canine - was entirely through body language not written or spoken language. And it is the written or spoken language that is 'human'.
I could continue but I think I have made my point that the wolf was NOT anthropromorphized.
I do agree that the wolf story line paralleled the story line of the humans, and perhaps this is what the author was trying to do.
I have other points that could be put forward for discussion, that might help avidlistener decide that the book truly does have something to it. Maybe it is one of those books where we think we are getting one thing and it turns out to be something entirely different. It can be disappointing - even maddening. But at least it should be discussed.
I recognize that one of the reasons I have been harsh on the book may have been that the ending didn't go the direction I was expecting. I will admit that I am a bit of a romantic, always wanting everything to work out in the end even if it isn't perfectly. This book, like the real historical facts, is much more bleak and solemn. I wasn't thrilled with the book before the end and the end may have just pushed me over the edge.
In terms of what you said on anthropomorphism, I agree that the idea of animals having thoughts and communication cannot be the basis of a claim to anthropomorphism--in fact it would be really anthropocentric to think that other animals are so far separate from us. What I think is the basic premise of the claim is the assumption that we can relate their thoughts and communication to the way we think. I hope I am saying this right, but I feel like even if we know that they have thoughts and reasoning skills, it is not inherent that we understand what those thoughts and skills are like as an experience--after all none of us really knows what it is like to be a dog, we can only see it through our human experience. This is more of a philosophical discussion of whether or not the writing is anthropomorphic. It is up to individuals to decide whether or not they like or don't like it.
I think I mentioned it before, but I don't think anthropomorphism is inherently bad. I think that is what fiction language is for- speculation of the unknown, to try and express the inexpressible, but I think for me art is purposeful and meaningful. I just felt like in this case it didn't add a whole lot to the story. But maybe, just trying to tie Haiki's and her spirit guide's lives together was the purpose of the writing. I guess I was just expecting more.