Random Review

The Origin of Species: a Novel cover image

Far too long for its own good, The Origin of Species seems to have one goal: destroy any last shred of sympathy the reader might have for the protagonist, Alex Fratarcangeli.

Part of my trouble with this book is a defect of self. I'm too young to have lived through the 1980s, and I've never been to Montreal. Thus, it's difficult for me to comprehend Alex's preoccupation with Pierre Trudeau, Bill 101, and tension among immigrant populations. Someone more attuned to the zeitgeist of 1980s Canada or Quebec will likely find it easier to relate to The Origin of Species than I did. Perhaps Alex's infantile helplessness is a metaphor for that era, as Canada sat by and watched the United States ascend out of the Cold War toward its eventual spot as sole global superpower.

The pacing of the book could be improved. Its length alone is unwieldy. The middle section, which tells of Alex's adventure and mishaps in the Galapagos Islands, is entirely too long. That section also cemented my dis…

Why I Read

Mostly for entertainment and edification. Reading is fun, and reading is a great way to learn. Although I indulge in television, movies, and video games, reading is my favourite way to relax. With a book, I can experience the story at my own pace, moving faster or slower as my interest demands. Books offer an infinite canvas for the imagination of both the author and the audience; with books, anything is possible.

What I Read

Everything! Well, almost. I try to read as widely as possible in recognition of the fact that genres are more of a marketing label than an adequate way to categorize books. But I have some favourite areas of fiction and non-fiction, and there are areas I avoid.

When I first began reading on my own, I devoured mysteries: Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Agathie Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle. Then I discovered science fiction and fantasy, and those remain my favourite genres today. I still delve into mysteries, historical fiction, and a variety in between, but science fiction and fantasy are my mainstays. For non-fiction, I mostly read books about science and technology. In particular, I love books about the history and philosophy of science, technology, or mathematics.

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