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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
Neanderthals: The Experiment by Serag Monier is a compelling novel with a strong appeal to fans of science fiction. Omar and Shadia discover each other on a deserted island; none of them is aware how they got there. Bumping one's head in an elevator and waking up on a deserted island isn’t normal and it still isn’t normal when what feels like a dream is actually real. But one thing is certain — they are being used for an experiment and they don’t understand why. This experiment is to uncover their deepest fears and their strengths, so they can be easily controlled. Follow these two characters as they navigate an uncharted world, face multiple dangers, and develop a bond and a love that grows with each obstacle and challenge. The ultimate test is how they face themselves and transform. Can they escape this island, uncover the secrets that brought them here, and reconquer their freedom?
The translation of this book by Eman Thabet is expertly done as it provides a fluid and beautiful reading experience for English readers. The plot is tight and intriguing, exploring themes of dehumanization, human rights, romance, and more. The writing is gorgeous and while the story has an eerie feel, it is rooted in human experience and the quest for freedom from control. The characters are skillfully written and fleshed out as we watch them struggle with memories, with defining who they are and understanding the place they find themselves in. Omar’s infection becomes a strong plot element. From the opening lines, the characters’ experience of the new world is disorienting but the message that makes them feel they are being watched changes everything. The setting is well-written with strong imagery — the terrain with odd-colored puddles reeking of animal dung, overarching tree branches, wildlife with wolves to tear at their flesh, and frightening large rats are just a few elements in the unfamiliar, dangerous landscape. Neanderthals: The Experiment is a fast-paced, enthralling science fiction novel that explores the value of human life, a tale with unforgettable characters and a plot that makes it a page-turning read.