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Narrated by an Archaeon, a 3.8 billion year old species, the oldest on earth, Downdrift is a work of speculative eco-fiction that describes the impact of ecological pressures on animals that are adopting human behaviors, with droll and sometimes alarming, results. The book follows a year of changes and the travels of a housecat and a lion who are inexplicably driven towards a rendezvous. At first, a few isolated harbingers of change appear, but they quickly escalate. Squirrels take up manic knitting, wild hares steal earth-moving equipment, rats go in for disco music and form-fitting metallic leisure-ware. Data-sorting abilities appear among urban populations of birds, and frenzied domestic pets seek celebrity careers. Droll, melancholic, and poetic, the tale is crammed with witty vignettes and poignant reflections on the ways the pressures on the once-natural world are accelerating mutations in behaviors among the animals. Genetic material alters. The differences between animals blur. Odd mutant forms appear–goat-chicks and dog-flies, fish-birds and flying lizards–as if some mad rush is propelling genetic code to propagate across every form of flesh and living matter. As large-scale infrastructure projects make their appearance, each of the animals takes the role appropriate to its disposition—or not. Melancholic rather than apocalyptic, the book is a celebration of species as well as a mourning of the damage done in our time. Throughout, the emergent voice and character of the Archaeon extremophile records events as well as a slow coming to consciousness about its own identity as a hyper-organism.
This book is an EPIC, to be sure! It spans millennia, taking you through the life of a so-called "lesser goddess", Circe, who we come to know intimately and to love dearly. Circe's story is a quiet one, yet a righteously triumphant redemption story, as she comes into her own power and owns the world as her own. You find yourself riveted, rooting for Circe’s successes and growing power at every turn. Madeline Miller's words read like poetry, every sentence a living thing in itself, full of so much...Oh, what a true PLEASURE to read!!
(Adult Fiction) - reviewed by Isabel