The People in Trees

The People in Trees

by Hanya Yanagihara

Overview:It is 1950 when Norton Perina, a young doctor, embarks on an expedition to a remote Micronesian island in search of a rumored lost tribe. There he encounters a strange group of forest dwellers who appear to have attained a form of immortality that preserves the body but not the mind. Perina uncovers their secret and returns with it to America, where he soon finds great success. But his discovery has come at a terrible cost, not only for the islanders, but for Perina himself. Disquieting yet thrilling, The People in the Trees is an anthropological adventure story with a profound and tragic vision of what happens when cultures collide. It marks the debut of a remarkable new voice in American fiction.

Faith Bowers (02/26/17): Debbie Weiss warned me that the book would be wordy because she has reviewed Ms.Yanagihara’s second book, “A Little Life” which was 800 pages. I chose her first novel to read because I thought I would read A little Life when I have more time and because The People in the Trees is only 350 pages. It is wordy and I usually do not pick science fiction. It is well written because you do feel like you are in the jungle, and when you finally arrive to the village of a new lost tribe you do relax. That being said the first half of the book is very good but I lost interest with the repetition of the same science, the trips back to the island, the need to adopt so many children, and the science competitions. That is probably why her second novel is much better. I think you were meant to be bored with the protagonist’s life because he was bored.

This book is also about what is not written and that leaves much room for discussion in a book club. There are many current world issues that the author wanted to address in this book of science fiction. The conclusion is the followup of the beginning of the novel back to present day and so one should read this book to the end. Rating: ***

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