Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review: The Mounds Anomaly by Phyllis Gunderson (Whitney Finalist 2013)

Title: The Mounds Anomaly
Author: Phyllis Gunderson
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Digital Copy
This book would be rated: PG

Dr. Matt Howard is a bit of a puzzle. For starters, she's a she, despite her name. She's also a brilliant archaeologist who seems to enjoy an interesting puzzle more than she values her job security as a college professor. She's a single mom to a daughter adopted from China (yay!), but it often seems that her ten-year-old daughter is taking care of her. In short, I was captivated by Matt's character.

The story of The Mounds Anomaly, however, was a bit more problematic. First of all, it seemed kind of strange to have a book that takes place in the recent past (2008, if I remember right) in the historical fiction category. I understand why Gunderson or the Whitney Committee would want the novel, which focuses on Matt's growing obsession with ancient burial mounds discovered across North America that contain material that seems to be of European origin, to be in the historical category, since the mounds themselves are ancient, but I think it would work better in the mystery/suspense or perhaps the general fiction category, especially given that there's so much emphasis on character development. I learned a lot about the mounds while reading, but I learned more about Dr. Howard, which is, I always think, the mark of an interesting novel.

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