Circles of Stone

by Joan Dahr Lambert

Reviewed by Coral

This is the story of three women, each named Zena, separated by thousands and thousands of years. Through their lives we can glimpse the beginning of human life, and witness the evolution of mankind. Each of these women must overcome hardship and tragedy to survive in a world they do now fully understand.

So, the quotes on the back of the book would have you believe this book is in the same class as Clan of the Cave Bear, and that's just not true. I loved the Clan of the Cave Bear Series (alright, I loved the first few books, the last one I found overly repetitive) which drew me in right away. In this book I found nothing so compelling.

The problem, for me at least, is the author's style of writing. When you choose to write about people in the past, especially before verbal and/or written communication existed, you have to accept the limitations of the world you've chosen to explore. Instead of doing that, the author seemingly ignores them at every turn. For example (and these are just from the first Zena's story): Zena doesn't know what the pains in her stomach is, yet she calls them contractions even while wondering what's happening to her; Zena doesn't know what that mountain that spews fire is, yet she calls it a volcano even while thinking about how she doesn't know what's going on; Zena mates with a male she thinks of as Dak, yet later on, when the story shifts for a moment to this male's point-of-view he's thinking of himself as Dak as well; Dak finds a young boy, whose name we know is Screech, though Dak has no way of knowing this because he cannot talk, yet not 4 paragraphs later Dak is thinking of the boy as Screech.

The problem is consistency; if a character doesn't know what a volcano is she can't suddenly be thinking the word in her head or using it when the story is told from her point-of-view. If speech hasn't been developed yet, people can't magically know each other's names without some sort of hand motions or something.

Grade: C