Book Review

Pod by Laline Paull | Book Review

by Laline Paull
Release Date: 9th February 2022
Genre: Adult, Literary
Source: Publisher, NetGalley

Once upon a time like now, two estranged dolphin tribes live at opposite ends of a remote tropical archipelago. At one end, where the water is cleaner, lives a tiny pod of spinner dolphins, spiritually refined and matriarchal. At the other is the raucous megapod of bottlenose dolphins, who once drove the gentle spinners from their home but now live in increasingly painful acoustic conditions — which they believe are caused by warring ocean demons. Circling the archipelago is a lone humpback whale, who sings warning to his people about the new perils of the old routes. And caught between the sanctuary of family and the vast unknown is a young spinner dolphin about to make the ultimate sacrifice. The ocean is changing beyond recognition, and every forced migration for survival spells new conflict.

I did not enjoy Pod at all, and I’m very sad about it! I was expecting to really enjoy this book because I’ve heard excellent things about Paull’s other books, in particular The Bees. I’m really intrigued by marine biology, and I’m big into environmentalism, so I thought Pod was going to be a hit with me.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stomach it. I really enjoyed the first part where we were getting to know Ea, and I liked the POV switches too as we saw more pods or solo animals and learnt of their struggles. But then the sexual assaults started happening again and again, and I really didn’t sign up to read about dolphins being gang r*ped over and over. 

It was honestly tragic and it left me feeling absolutely miserable. I understand a little of what the author was going for with the themes, but it was just too much. I would have liked more subtlety, to be honest!

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