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Lauren, Christ's Shadowers

Bone Talk

Bone Talk (written by Candy Gourlay) was a riveting historical fiction book, and I enjoyed it immensely. Though the story of native people and colonizers is by no means a new topic, I think this book has broken new ground on the subject.

Samkad, the protagonist, tells his tale with a childish perspective, which helps to connect him with younger readers. Though his views are biased, Gourlay recognizes this and presents his sexism and selfishness as wrong. By the end of the book, he has grown a fair bit. This makes his character development and arc succeed.

His best friend, Luki, is perhaps one of the most delightful deuteragonists that I've ever met. Her rational mind, brave heart, and smart observations make her the perfect foil and best friend to Samkad's hot-headed nature. Though one might consider it cliche that Samkad hints at loving her in the epilogue, the classic "best friends fall in love" trope, it comes off as perfectly natural and not at all out of left field.

Other characters are fleshed out in general, even minor ones like Samkad's late friend Tambul and his soul brother's aunt, Agkus. The Americans other than Mister William are mindlessly evil, but making them more three-dimensional may have been confusing for readers, as they were villains and needed to be portrayed as such.

The plot was complicated, I must admit, though it reflects real life in that there is no true structure. But this made climaxes feel anticlimactic. For example, Luki and Samkad's fight was important, and felt more important than the Mangili burning down the village. As no one of any real value died, it simply seemed like a way to show how the people became stronger from their troubles. Not to mention that Samkad I's off screen death lost some meaning. However, the ending to the book was one of the most intriguing ending of all time. Showing how racism can be subtle and how the Filipinos bent to the colonizers was so realistic that it made me startle.

Overall, I would give this book an 8.5/10 and would definitely recommend it. And the play on words Bontok - Bone Talk, solidified my liking.

Posted on: 8th May 2019 at 12:24 pm

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