Sunday, June 8, 2014

Review: Storm by Donna Jo Napoli

I got a copy of this book through the YA Book Exchange.  I was intrigued by the topic, basically it is a kind of retelling of the story of Noah and the Ark from the bible.  Along with the recent movie and its controversy, the topic seemed like an interesting one to go ahead and read a YA book about. 

The story was about a girl who wasn't one that was taken on the ark, a 16 year old girl named Sebah.  It begins of course with the torrential rain and flooding, and she is separated from her family, soon as far as she knows, she is the only person left alive, hiding at the top of trees.  Then a boy shows up, and as he saves her from a boar, he also claims her for his wife.  His name is Aban, and eventually as the water gets even higher than the trees, he builds a raft and they float off.  While Seban has a bit of protection in her cloak, he has none, and his skin gets really pruny, and he gets sicker and sicker.  Then, one day out of nowhere, a rope hits their raft.  And as Sebah grabs it, it begins to pull their raft closer to something that is huge, and soon they see it is the ark.  Sebah is able to grab onto the rope and pull herself closer to the ark, but Aban is too weak.  He tells her to go on, that saving herself is only right, and makes all that he's done to help her stay alive worth it.  So she does, but that is the last she sees of Aban.  As she is pulled on to the ark and through a porthole, it is by what she first thinks is a very strange looking person.  Well, it is actually a bonobo monkey.  She soon names her savior Queen, and her fellow bonobo, the Male.  The Queen takes care of her, making sure she gets food, protecting her from the Male who seems to want to do nothing but mate constantly. 

As Sebah's time goes on in the ark, she learns to hide herself as she hears the people on board, Noah's family, come around, and hears them talk about how only 2 of every type of animal has been allowed on the boat, and that only their family has been chosen by their Mighty Creator to survive this flood.  So she is afraid that if she is found, she will be thrown off the boat to die.  While there she begins to feel sorry for the animals that seem more and more depressed, and so she figures out a way to start letting them out of their cages at night to feel some freedom. 

I could see this being a controversial book for religious reasons.  But it does have very interesting things to think about in it.  Sebah's skeptical thoughts about the different gods, and not being a follower of Noah's God, could be part of a reason that this book could be protested.  As a teen book, there is sex in it, I mean look at the time period.  But I could see that being an issue for some readers or people looking to put it in their school libraries.  It is not explicit sex, but you know that is what they are talking about for sure.  And the look at Noah and his family members could also be considered in a bad light.  I know I'd heard all the stories that Noah might have been a drunk, and it is included in the conversations between his family members in the book, as well as some of the ways men treated their wives is included.  Unfortunately those treatments were probably the truth of that time.

It was a pretty interesting read though.  If you're not offended by any of those things and are able to look at it away from the biblical issues, I think it is a good story, and definitely worth giving a try.