cover image Pod


Laline Paull. Pegasus, $26.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-63936-371-1

Paull’s third “humanimal” novel (after The Ice) is unabashedly anthropomorphic, didactic, and YA in its vibe, despite graphic content that, Paull admits, makes “some people want a trigger warning.” Ea, a newly mature spinner dolphin, is deaf to the ocean’s music, the spiritual lifeblood of her kind. Sulky and nervous, she avoids her cheerful, amorous peers. The Rorqual is a lone humpback whose family was wiped out by the oblivious passage of a single ship. Devi is the devious First Wife in a bottlenose megapod organized in harems. And then there’s mad Google, another bottlenose and former military asset. All are prodded to action by their awareness of an impending storm, but these character introductions take eight slow chapters. The pace picks up when a remora latches onto Ea, whispering corruption into her ear and impelling her to flee her pod, but this may be too late for many readers. In addition to the expected ecological themes, Paull substitutes the word race where scientists would say species, apparently to underline the sociopolitical dimension of the fable but really only muddying the waters. Readers will struggle to emotionally connect to this. Agent: Rebecca Wearmouth, PFD. (Feb.)