Book review: Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut

“Thanks to their decreased brainpower, people aren’t diverted from the main business of life by the hobgoblins of opinion anymore.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Galápagos

galapagos

Genre: Satire/Science-Fiction

Author fact: Born in America, Vonnegut’s extraordinary life no doubt helped to shape the dark sense of humour in his novels. His mother committed suicide on Mother’s Day in 1944. Later he narrowly survived the Allied firebombing of Dresden where he was a Prisoner of War.

The story: Reading Galápagos is like reading Darwin’s Theory of Evolution backwards. A million years have passed and the humans of the future live with fins instead of hands. The story’s ghostly narrator takes us back to the year it all turned to custard: 1986. The world is on the brink of economic disaster and the Nature Cruise of the Century is about to depart Guayaquil, Ecuador for the Galápagos Islands, its passengers unaware that they will soon become the sole survivors of the human race.

Why I liked it: We’re told about the apocalypse right at the beginning of the novel. Vonnegut even goes as far as to put asterisks at the end of the names of characters who are going to die soon. As a writer, I found this approach intriguing. Instead of it being a spoiler, it made me even more curious to read on and find out exactly how the story would unfold. I loved Vonnegut’s satirical observations on how our descendants live a simpler, but richer life without their ‘big human brains.’ Galápagos’ themes are just as relevant today as they were when it was first published in 1985. I’d recommend this book to anyone who can laugh at themselves.

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