BookBrowse Reviews The Dinosaur Feather by S J. Gazan

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Dinosaur Feather

by S J. Gazan

The Dinosaur Feather by S J. Gazan
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2013, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2014, 544 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Suspenseful, compelling, richly detailed and stunningly researched, The Dinosaur Feather unveils a sparkling mosaic of related destinies as well as a sinister web of lies.

Just when she thought nothing could be more frightening than her upcoming thesis defense, Anna Bella Nor realized she was wrong. The possibility of having her defense delayed was far worse. The fact that her no-good, inattentive PhD advisor, Professor Lars Helland, was found dead in his office with his tongue severed is beside the point. She wanted to graduate. She wanted to get back to being a mom.

Anna, like all the characters in S. J. Gazan's Scandinavian murder-mystery Dinosaur Feather, has many layers to her personality. She resists falling into a stereotypically sympathetic role, which makes her simultaneously harder to take and more intriguing. Why is she so angry all the time? Why does she lash out at her friends when they're just trying to help? And why does she feel so jealous of her childhood bestie Troels? Just as she seeks to piece together the mystery of bird evolution in her work as a paleo-ornithologist, she sets out to learn more about her own evolution from child to defensive adult. She wants to identify the origins of things, to find the links between the past and the present. How did she become who she is? Gazan writes, "…all living organisms, mice and men, birds and beetles, had evolved from the same starting point…differences in their morphology, physiology, and behavior were entirely the result of adaptation and competition." So it is for Anna.

As the story progresses and yet another murder takes place in the department, Detective Søren Marhauge – a man with long-kept secrets of his own – finds himself knee-deep in the unfamiliar world of science and university politics. Oddball personalities, romantic affairs, scientific feuds, overblown egos, unconscionable business dealings, and very creepy creatures take him out of his element, and he begins to rely more and more on Anna, despite the fact that she's still a suspect. And to complicate things further, he's starting to fall for her.

I especially enjoyed how Gazan detours away from the murder plot and describes the childhoods and histories of many of her characters. We get to flashback and watch them interact with their parents; we're taken along for the ride as they make bad, irreversible decisions, and we understand why they are the way they are as adults. We also see how lies shape people's personalities over time. Being privy to information that other characters don't have – that sense of dramatic irony – creates an extra layer of suspense that is certainly gripping.

The various descriptions and settings work well alongside the plot too; dark streets are lightly dusted with snow, feet shuffle down deserted museum halls, cups of tea steam in the cold air. It's a perfect book to get you in the mood for a dark winter. And – a warning for some, a promise for others – it's filled with revolting descriptions of creatures from biology's underbelly. Parasitic tapeworms that munch their way through nerves and tissue and lay eggs inside people's intestines, spiders the size of dinner plates, scorpions crawling under bedspreads… it's all in there.

My only real criticism of The Dinosaur Feather is that, while all the different threads are interesting, they aren't strung together tightly enough. The book tries to do too much, and the punch lines end up falling flat. Consequently, the ending is unsatisfying, if not a little preachy.

Overall, I recommend this book to biology buffs, to those who revel in a dark winter's night, to those who enjoy strong character development, and to those who prefer the ride to the destination. You're in for a treat.

Reviewed by Elena Spagnolie

This review was originally published in November 2013, and has been updated for the November 2014 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Dark Flood Rises
    The Dark Flood Rises
    by Margaret Drabble
    Margaret Drabble, the award-winning novelist and literary critic who is approaching eighty and ...
  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...
  • Book Jacket: Dadland
    Dadland
    by Keggie Carew
    In her notable debut, Keggie Carew examines the life of her father Tom, a decorated war hero whose ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Lola
    by Melissa Scrivner Love

    An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

They say that in the end truth will triumph, but it's a lie.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -