Love in the Time of Dinosaurs by Kirsten Alene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Tyrannosaurs carrying three-barreled bazookas!
That is all.
Okay, maybe not all. That would be too short for a proper review, but if the world were a fair place, that’s all that would need to be said about Love in the Time of Dinosaurs by Kirsten Alene.
To start with, the author builds an entire world populated by what we assume are probably humans, although at times I questioned this. The unnamed hero of the novel is a warrior monk fighting off an invasion of heavily armed dinosaurs. Is this Earth’s unknown past? Its future? My take is that it’s an entirely mythical world, but this is open to interpretation.
In this world, all dinosaurs, or Jeremies as they’re referred to by the monks, are vicious killers. Even dinosaurs that have traditionally been considered herbivores will kill and devour people, such as the stegosaurus that ate the hero’s best friend. That is until the hero catches a glimpse of a previously unseen dinosaur (a trachodon) who is peaceful, intelligent, and also a monk, something that the humans believe is impossible since all dinosaurs are animals to them. Armor-wearing, gun-toting, samurai-sword wielding animals. This trachodon is a female named Petunia, and the two are instantly drawn to each other. Hence the “love” part of the title. It’s almost a Romeo-and-Juliet star-crossed lovers kind of deal, except that instead of Verona, it takes place on a world invaded by dinosaurs, and Tybalt is a stegosaurus with cannons mounted on his back.
There are only two complaints I have with this novel. The first is that it feels like there’s more to tell. I know that I say this a lot when reviewing books from the Eraserhead Press label, but this is really the case here. It feels like there is a large chunk of the overall story missing, such as why the dinosaurs are called Jeremies, why the half-badger spiritish animals are called Steves, and where the dinosaurs came from and why they attacked. This last one is a question that seems to be creeping around in the back of the hero’s mind, but is never answered, and there are hints dropped that there is definitely something going on here. But it’s never fully pursued. Maybe the author will write a sequel which explores this, particularly as this whole war seems to center around the one monastery and the surrounding area, and we don’t see the much of the rest of the world. There’s a myth in the book surrounding islands floating at the center of the planet with one old man and one old woman on each one who never meet, and of the Great Destroyer Jeremy. If this has to do with something larger, I would like to read it.
The second problem is more of a pet peeve, that being the author completely ignores basic physical (not to mention physiological) laws. At one point, a character who has been cut in half, and generally seems to be okay if only a little upset at losing his lower half, opens his ribcage up after jumping with the hero from a pterodactyl in order to become a parachute and slow their descent (did you get all that?). I can understand and accept some stretching of basic physical principles, but when they’re completely broken like that, it rips me off the page and restores disbelief. Others may be more accepting of this, but unfortunately, I just can’t do it. It’s not in my nature.
Still, Love in the Time of Dinosaurs is a good read. It can be surprisingly deep at times, and Kirsten Alene has an interesting and unique writing style. Her imagery, not to mention her prose, can actually be quite poetic. The novel can also be very gory, so interested readers should keep this in mind before they start reading it, aside from the above issues I mentioned. Because of those aforementioned issues, I can’t say that I loved the book. However, I can say that despite those issues, I still really did like it, and I feel comfortable in giving it a solid recommendation.
Love in the Time of Dinosaurs earns four out of five stars.