instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Blog

A couple more reviews, and some thoughts they prompt

Reviews of The Great White Bear still trickle in, including two recent blogs. This one, on a blog called Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, took a straightforward approach, and focused on the remarkable nature of polar bears - which is great, as that is what I had wanted more than anything to convey.

The second one, from a blog called Cookies, Books, and Bikes had some very high praise indeed for the way I tackled climate change, calling that section "one of the best I've ever read in a science book." But the review's author had two criticisms: One, a passing reference to Sarah Palin's enthusiastic endorsement of a heavily criticized 'scientific' paper that sought to debunk claims for polar bear declines in Hudson Bay - a dig that the author found gratuitous given that I did not mention the former Alaska governor again. Fair enough; I could and should have added an extra sentence to explain why Palin's embrace of that paper was relevant to polar bear conservation in Alaska.

The second complaint refers to those sections of the book that are kinda sorta first-person narratives - first-bear narratives, perhaps. I did not intend for these to become a key feature of the book; it seemed a natural device for explaining the denning and I had not intended to use it further, but my agent and editor suggested I deploy it throughout the book and I believe they were right to do so. Personally, I think it works as a means of stitching the book together. But it is clear to me that it is the single most polarizing part of the book: Some reviewers like it. Others hate it. And I think which response it elicits rests largely on how a particular reader feels about anthropomorphizing animals; as this particular reader said, "I can't be the bear, I don't want to be the bear and I don't want to read in a science book about if I was the bear."

Personally, if I had to do it again, I think I would do it the same way. But I've definitely been struck by - and had not anticipated - the reaction those particular sections have elicited.
Be the first to comment