Born in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.
The world building in this novel is incredible, and the descriptions are spot on. It was like taking a virtual tour, where the surroundings, creatures and characters all build so vividly in your head, your senses go into overdrive and you can hear, smell, taste, and (almost) touch. I swear, if I’d looked up from the page long enough, I’d have seen a mammoth at one point!
It’s a total immersion in prehistoric times and you get what it says on the cover, because those times were treacherous indeed! The pace is fitting the time period because, let’s face it, there were dangers at every turn, so your only choice is to hold on tight for the ride. I love this kind of adventure, where you get so caught up, you find yourself holding your breath as the characters do. I was right there beside Lucy as she laid upon the hard, unforgiving ground and ignored the creatures trying to use her for a snack as she waited out the chance to claim her own food.
I loved Lucy as soon as she was introduced. She’s strong, loyal and heroic; a true role model. She is also a healer, and her natural empathy reflected in the way she dealt with others (even those I would have been tempted to offer up to a Saber-tooth as a tasty snack). Her ability to adapt, a necessity within an unpredictable terrain and facing constant peril, was inspiring.
I was also enthralled by the methods of communication Lucy and her group used. It probably won’t surprise you, given my love of sign language, but this area in particular was a fascinating aspect of the tale. In such primitive times, as communication methods developed and evolved, group members relied on facial expressions and body movements to convey a message. They were so attuned to one another, a slight twitch could speak a dozen words. Jacqui expressed this incredibly well, highlighting the fact that we should look beyond words in order to gain the bigger picture.
There is something in the novel for everyone. Jacqui has clearly done a great deal of research in order to bring the world to life, so it was an education. Born in a Treacherous time is a journey into the past that highlights a number of human traits; our need for connection, the primal instinct to mate and survive, the bonds we form and the sacrifices we make for the good of the group.
The characters are diverse and relatable, and engage the reader every step of the way. I was sad when the journey came to an end, and am eagerly anticipating the next adventure.
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