Animalis, by John Peter Jones

Generally, I am ready with the review of a book as soon as I am done reading, because I keep taking notes along the way. However, with Animalis, I let it seep in, let it simmer a bit in my mind and evaluate what I truly feel about it. I seem to have strangely mixed emotions about this book. Let me tell you why – despite the author labeling this as a young adult novel, it is either a children’s book written for adults or (please trust me, this isn’t as disturbing as it sounds -) an adult book written for children.

Animalis is a science fiction novel, about humanity’s fight against these hybrid creatures called the Animalis. They are animals whose DNA has been altered by this crazy scientist and as a result, they have evolved into these half-human, half-animal beings, that look like larger versions of their animal counterparts, but can speak and move like humans. This is the part which made it seem like a children’s book, because though you know these are evolved creatures, when you read the book, what you imagine are talking kangaroos and talking hyenas.
On the other hand, essentially this is a story of an uprising of the animalis (animal-malice, I guess) against the humans, who perceived the former as a threat and killed many innocent animalis and denied them equal rights. Sounds a bit like a probable political situation, if you think about it, but one that children probably cannot comprehend. Hence, my doubts about the genre of this story.

Characters: Jax: The whole book is about Jax – how he thought he would save the world, like every other teenager in the world, and then later, how he discovers he does not want to kill innocent animalis, as they are not all as bad as they have been portrayed. Hank: Jax best friend, who disagrees with him when he comes to know Jax is compassionate towards the animalis. Hurley: Hurley is present throughout the book, more or less, but she is one of the most shrouded-in-mystery kind of characters I have read. Even after you finish the book, you still have questions about her, but I will get to that later. Moxie and Little Hank: Ferret-like creatures that Jax rescues from a rat animalis’ plane.

Language/Writing technique: I found a few typos, mostly related to tenses. While there were a few of these, off the top of my head, I have, “She hadn’t attack him yet”.
I do feel the book could have been a bit more descriptive. Why I say this is, there were times when we move from one scene to the next, but the transition happens so quickly, that we don’t know where our characters are. We can see them, but we cannot really visualize where they are, what setting they are in.
This book has an overwhelming number of futuristic gadgets. The retina monitor in particular sounds useful, but painful. It’s basically a computer + mobile phone that’s inserted into your eye. At least that’s my understanding, but see point above about descriptiveness. The room scanner thing (ICT scanner) sounds a little disturbing too. It sounds like we’re gonna have absolutely no privacy in the kind of future depicted in this book. Wow.

Like I said earlier, this book leaves us with a lot of questions. Why does Hurley’s DNA change simply because she feels compassionate? How does it give her those (trying to hide spoiler) “properties”? Where do Moxie and Little Hank come from and why does Jax’s instinct tell him to save them? Who was the person who helped Jax in the arena? If he was a friend of Narasimha, why did he help Jax? What is Seraphis (I truly felt I missed something with this one, but I can’t figure out what)? So many more questions that you will ask only if you read the book.
I do truly wish Jax had changed Narasimha’s mind using some other technique, like the old-fashioned pep talk or something. The way he did it seemed too simple somehow. Like, there was no effort to achieve something significant. It did not feel right.

Truth is, Animalis is a good story and a good book. But it is too raw. It should have been polished, with the loose ends tied and the vagueness removed. I give it a 2.5/5.

Tell me how you like it:

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Note: John Peter Jones sent me a PDF copy of this book for review. Thanks, John.

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4 thoughts on “Animalis, by John Peter Jones

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