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Monday, September 24, 2012
Book Review: Jane by Robin Maxwell
Author: Robin Maxwell
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: From NetGalley
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For more information visit Robin Maxwell's website
Jane Porter is studying to be a paleoanthropologist. It’s an unlikely profession for a woman, and even more unlikely for a woman of her station. Her father is encouraging, and obsessed with the same fever for scientific endeavors. Ral Conrath soon shows up in their lives and provides proof that fossils of the missing link might be found in Western Africa. Jane and her father are swayed and Conrath sets the travel arrangements. When events become disastrous in Africa, Jane finds herself waking up in the care of a wild man: Tarzan.
This is the Tarzan story told through the eyes of Jane. I have never read the classic Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. That means I cannot say how close this version is to the original story. Jane starts the novel out by presenting a skeleton to an academic committee, and claiming that not only is it the missing link, but it is not that old. No one believes it, and the academic community doesn’t see her in a good light. Only one man stays behind, Edgar Rice Burroughs, who she tells of her adventures in the wild.
The story is told through first person, via Jane. Other than the opening with Burroughs, it has a slow start. At first Jane is studying at Cambridge. Her fellow male students have cutting remarks, and her mother finds all of it inappropriate. There is also a student that Jane points out by name more than a couple times, but never really says or does much. It isn’t until they are in Africa the story starts to speed up.
Africa through Jane’s eyes is rich and vivid in detail without being over bearing on the reader. I enjoyed most of the scenes where she is doing nothing but observing. The drama with Conrath starts to unfold until it erupts and Tarzan makes his appearance. I enjoyed the budding relationship between him and Jane. Tarzan introduces Jane to his world, but he also introduces Jane to what she has come to Africa to originally find. I won’t say anymore on this, I already feel like I am coming dangerously close to spoilers.
The scenery for a love story is fantastic, but the love story itself is frustrating. Jane and Tarzan constantly get close, but every time something stops them. Instead of building tension, it can build frustration. Of course this isn’t just a love story, it’s an adventure story. The adventuring wasn’t as action packed as it could have been. There are small bits of excitement throughout the novel leading up to a major climax. The climax, which is rich in detail, maybe too rich when it comes to Jane’s point of view; often times the scene pans away from her.
Then came a ‘WTF!?’ ending. I was excited to read how Tarzan and Jane were going to make it work in the modern world. I found this a more interesting concept than the jungle adventure. Burroughs sums up my feelings perfectly at the end of the novel. You left us hanging Jane! This novel is supposed to be a standalone, but then why the cliffhanger?
I did enjoy the novel. It has a few flaws towards the end, but for the most part it immerses itself in an exotic Africa that was a wonderful experience. It isn’t hard reading, but it is set in the early 1900’s and has all the trappings of the time period. Jane on the other hand is not a woman of her time, she wants more, and who can blame her. Her calling takes her to Africa, and in the arms of Tarzan.