I feel like I’ve been waiting for a book like this my entire life, and here it was the entire time, published long before I was even born.
Is the light cast upon race and gender in this novel wrong and inappropriate? Most definitely. However, I read this book ignoring these things, not out of ignorance as the word would imply, but with an acceptance of the flaws, and deciding instead to fall in love with the adventure and the horrible violence of Tarzan’s growing up in the jungle. I didn’t read this looking for a realistic survival study on apes and men either.
I was not expecting the gritty and gruesome nature of the story, as my only experience of Tarzan prior to reading this novel is with the Disney animated movie version. There is no child-friendly telling of Tarzan winning the love of the great ape Kerchak and Jane teaching him how to read, or Tarzan gallivanting around with his ape buddy Terk and the elephant Tantor. This adventure is much more primal than that, and so fucking beautiful I couldn’t finish it without crying. Others will find this much more flawed than I have, I’m sure, but it’s been a long time since I’ve loved reading and this book has brought me out of that slump.
Sidenote: Margot Robbie and Alexander Skarsdård will be starring in next year’s Tarzan adaptation, based off of one of the sequels in this book series. That’s my dream cast for any movie so I’m super excited, and hoping that they keep to the darker nature of the novels.