Friday, November 1, 2019

Theory of Bastards

Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman

I've committed to blog every day in November, so I hope to finally catch up with my book reviews!

I read Theory of Bastards back in January for my book group, and I loved it! Set at some point in the future, the main character, Francine, is a research biologist who ends up taking on a live-in assignment at a laboratory, studying the sex lives of bonobos. Not altogether that likable of a character, Francine has struggled with debilitating endometriosis that has paralyzed her personal life and emotional development. Many people I love have experienced endometriosis and the complications associated with it (foremost being that the medical establishment often doesn't take you seriously because it's a disease that only afflicts women), so I'm glad to see Schulman tackle this topic in her novel.

And then there are the lovely bonobos. I knew they were a matriarchal species, fairly recently discovered, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Bonobos are the most closely related species to humans, sharing 98.7 percent of our DNA. Different from chimpanzees, bonobos are loving, sensitive, and intelligent. And they love to have sex. They are nondiscriminatory, polyamorous, and pansexual. They are also fiercely protective of each other and Francine learns she has to earn their respect.

As much as I was fascinated by the animal study, then Schulman takes us into apocalyptical themes when the research facility is hit by a massive dust storm and all electricity goes out across the grid. How to keep the animals alive? How to keep the bonobos away from the much more aggressive chimpanzees? Will she and her assistant, Stotts, consummate their sexual tension and form an emotional bond? Will they all survive?

I was compelled to keep reading until the end, and this moving book stayed with me for weeks...always good signs of an outstanding read. And now I know I love bonobos! It made for an entertaining book group discussion, as we talked about how many of us confessed to looking up bonobo penises! (Guilty as charged.)



  1. Your review makes me want to read this, so it's going on my list. I also do book reviews/cover reveals/etc. on my blog, and am pretty bogged down at the moment since I'm kind of a slow reader these days. Slow or not, I *am* back in with both feet, I just have to find my reading groove again so that I can do more reviews.

    Just stopping by via #NaBloPoMo2019!