Wednesday, August 23, 2017

[Book Review] True East by Raymond Ahrens

Book Review of True East by Raymond Ahrens

True East by Raymond Ahrens is a book that is filled with history, genetic anthropology, oil, murder, and lust, among other things.

Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way. 

True East by Raymond Ahrens book photo

True East by Raymond Ahrens

Book synopsis:
Katy Givens, thirty and brilliant, learns in a static-filled phone call that her husband Andrew is missing in the Amazon and possibly dead. Although still mourning the death of their infant son, Katy flies to Brazil in search of Andrew, discovering that the man she married has secrets. As the mysteries surrounding Andrew's disappearance mount, so does the list of shadowy forces benefitting from the recent discovery of oil in the Amazon.

Katy's field of genetic anthropology proves useful when accounts of the Unnamed Ones, a primitive and possibly pre-human tribe, are rumored to exist in the same valley as the oil reserves. Katy tracks Andrew through the jungle, deciphering riddles he left before disappearing. Along the way, she barters with a Jewish coin merchant, challenges chance with a fortune teller, and argues the merits of prayer with a Jesuit priest, before placing her faith with the indigenous Tadi.

My thoughts:
Unfortunately, this book just wasn't for me, but please don't let that sway your opinion. I know a number of people that would really dig this book!

Beware, the negatives:
Right off the bat, I was super turned off by the main character. It was clear that she was married, but before we really got to know her, she was sleeping with her psychiatrist... who was totally rotten to her. Usually this type of thing will make me immediately close the book and move on to the next one, but I pushed on.

Another thing that really bothered me was this line: "Rape, I remind you, is an exclusive male sport." While this was by far the worst, there were quite a few other lines like this that just didn't sit well with me...

Overall, I really struggled to both stay engaged with the story and care in the slightest bit for the characters. The story did pick up for a few chapters about 100 pages in, and then again closer to the end, but the rest just dragged for me. It didn't help that I was a bit thrown by the info dumping that occurred both in paragraph form and in dialogue throughout. Of course, this is just one of my personal reading irks, I'm sure others would be totally fine with that specific element.

The text itself was written wonderfully (check out my favorite passages below to see examples). But to me, the overall organization was a bit too jumpy. This was made worse by the little squiggle lines that broke up scenes; sometimes this method was helpful but for many others it was too much. Example:

There were also a few areas where the text was repetitive; ex. mention of the "womb like warmth" or learning who Celina was multiple times.

Speaking of, I did not understand the whole Celina element. It really seemed to take away from the main storyline.

Favorite passages:
Somewhere in the labyrinths of our minds lies hidden the passions of youth screaming to be heard. Embrace that voice and keep it alive.

The mins has no timetable to mend itself.

We've been fighting this battle for years. It's David against Goliath and I'm afraid we're not too handy with slingshots.

History books gloss over these travesties, refer to them with kinder words like migration, resettlement, or roaming but Katy knows the word - and the word is genocide.

"Be careful what you search for," Carla announces, "not everything list is meant to be found."

"Instincts can't be taught. Science, my dear, is all about hunches; the hard word comes improving them."

Morality cuts both ways. It's the sword that judges, but also the one that frees.

My final thoughts:
While I am very thankful for getting the opportunity to read this one, it's unfortunately not one that I would go out of my way to recommend. I just had too many issues with it.

Of course, that being said, please do not let my personal opinions deter you from checking it out if the synopsis sounds interesting to you!

Thanks for reading!


  1. I don't know why, but I'm really having difficulty connecting everything you shared about this book with the cover. That cover wouldn't really inspire me to pick this book up (I'm such a cover reader).

    1. Yeah... the cover threw me off a bit too. Especially because the yellow dress the character in the book wore was described in detail, and it was VERY different from the dress on the cover.

  2. I agree; I don't think this book is meant for me. I appreciated that you completed the book for your review.

  3. Such a shame when a book doesn't meet your expectations. But it happens.

    Hope you are having a good day, Erica!

    1. Definitely... I was on a roll with books I was loving so I knew this would happen soon :)

      I hope you're having a great day as well!