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of Ants and Dinosaurs by Cixin Liu

A decent read but the style made it difficult to invest.

This is an imagined history of the Cretaceous Period where Ants and Dinosaurs set up a kind of symbiotic civilization based on mutual needs. It covers around two thousand years of history and details how the relationship between the two species started and developed and of course goes into the conflicts too.

This is a pretty unusual but interesting book. It’s told in a kind of dry and humorous tone that jumps through time periods fairly quickly, spending a little more time with the major moments of civilized breakthroughs. There are not too many ‘characters’ or POV’s and is mostly told via a kind of dry narration.

I am pretty much a ‘surface’ reader when I read books, particularly if it’s my first time reading them and often miss a lot nuance. However the allegory here is brick heavy and even I picked up on it. I’m pretty sure the ‘West’ or the developed world are the dinosaurs but not totally sure if the ants are the ‘East’ or just developing worlds in general. But this is a hit you over the head warning to all of us to get co-operating on the climate and sort out conflicts and egos. It makes the point that all of us need to live in the world and respect it and thinking only about your own country/civilization often has unintended consequences.

I don’t really like being lectured at in my reading but I didn’t mind it here to be honest. The tone helped of course though it got a bit much by the end. What didn’t help though for my overall enjoyment of the book was this same feature, it was so dry and impersonal that it made it hard to really connect with the book. You can imagine an amazing world, or have a great idea, but if there are not characters that I’m invested in as well you are going to lose me and that happened here. Great idea but there were little to no personal moments that build an empathy to a story.

It was a decent book and I’m glad I read it but I do wonder if I’d ever go back to it again. It’s short though, and a standalone, so they are some very good plus points to it.

3 stars

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