Review: Love in the Time of Dinosaurs

The premise for this book probably started simply enough.  “I want monks fighting dinosaurs, and everybody will have cool weapons!”  It’s easy to come up with an idea that’s cool in its simplicity, but the challenge lies in turning that idea into a story with a layered plot and real characters.  Kirsten Alene (in her first book!) does just that.  Some of the best bizarro books are the ones that take simple ideas and run wild with them, telling a compelling story that’s weird to its very core.  Love in the Time of Dinosaurs is that kind of bizarro.

Alene takes the simple idea of monks vs. dinosaurs and builds and entire landscape around it, full of its own history and characters.  In this world the dinosaurs (called “Jeremy”) are vicious beasts bent on war and carnage.  Even the so-called herbivores will rip a human to bloody shreds.  And every one of them is equipped with elaborate guns, bazookas, rockets, samurai swords, or flying buzzsaws.  Dinosaurs are always cool.  Dinosaurs with high-tech weapons are mind-smashingly cool.  Since the Jeremy showed up, the monks have had to live within the walls of their sprawling monastery, scratching out a living and knitting their body parts back together when they can.  They are essentially prisoners, but they are determined to fight back.

It’s an old fashioned race war, and the story begins when one monk defies the rules.  He’s wandering the jungle when eh happens across a dinosaur that is different from the others:  Petunia.  She can do things no other Jeremy can do, like speak and meditate.  Soon the monk finds himself questioning if there isn’t a better way to resolve the war between humans and dinosaurs.  Peace seems to be ever elusive to these people, and there is tragedy in that.  Petunia and the monk fall in love, but the war always threatens tear them apart.

Most impressive about this book is the confidence with which Kirsten Alene tells her story.  She takes an absurd idea and approaches it with a strong voice that immerses you in this weird world she’s created.  The battle scenes are excellent, and the romantic elements are real and heartfelt.  Alene really takes advantage of the awesome visuals this surreal sci-fi world offers.  You will BELIEVE that a T-rex can carry a shotgun and a brachiosaur will bite you in half.   It’s like A Canticle for Leibowitz meets Jurassic Park with all the tasteful war violence of Saving Private Ryan.  And on top of that there’s romance and love.   My only complaint is that the monk and Petunia didn’t physically consummate their relationship, and really that just makes me an old perv.  This book rules.  Buy it!

Get it here:

Up next will be THE EGG SAID NOTHING by Caris O’Malley.  It’s not quite as surreal as other bizarro books, but it’s REALLY cool so far.  Kind of like if Back to the Future were written by Chuck Palahnuik.  That’ll be up soon, so stay tuned.


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