Out of the Cave by Cotton E. Davis
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (219 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
First, Adam was hurt. Then, he was betrayed. Now, Adam is mad.
Timewarp Inc, brings Adam Stancil, a 15-year-old Neanderthal boy to this century, where he is mainstreamed into a Midwestern high school. As he assimilates into modern culture, makes friends, deals with bullies, plays on the football team, he discovers it was human ancestors who, back in the Ice Ages, murdered his people with superior weaponry. First, Adam was hurt. Then, he felt betrayed. Now, Adam is mad.
Humans often fear things we haven’t experienced before or don’t understand. Is prejudice integral to the ways in which our species interacts with the unknown, or is it a something that can be unlearned?
High school is one of the most difficult times in life to stand out from the crowd. The idea of attending a school full of adolescents from another species is what first drew me into Adam’s world. My compassion for his growing pains grew as I got to know the Neanderthal boy who was raised by humans. His responses to a world he has been largely shielded from are as humorous and they are realistic, and the scenes in which he acclimates to his new school are by far the best in this tale.
This is the second entry in the TimeWarp series. It can be read as a standalone novel. While I had no problem getting caught up on everything I needed to know as someone who is unfamiliar with these characters, the brief references to the adventures certain individuals had earlier on in the TimeWarp timeline are intriguing.
Jumping between the perspectives of so many different people was jarring at times. Adam’s point of view is fascinating to me because his understanding of human culture is so heavily influenced by his earliest memories. It was less interesting to see how other people react to him, and while I gained the occasional insight into the personalities and motivations of his classmates I would have preferred to spend more time in Adam’s head.
The way Adam is treated by some members of his community also made me pause. The slurs used against him were historically used in extremely racist contexts, and while I understand the comparison the author was making I would have liked to see the characters approach this topic with more nuanced discussions. The parallels between Adam’s treatment and modern day prejudices are only superficially explored. I hope that these themes will be given more time to develop if Mr. Davis decides to continue this series as they really are quite fascinating.
With that being said, I couldn’t stop thinking about these characters. Clearly a lot of time was put into developing their backstories and personalities, and all of that effort shines through in the sensitive, multi-dimensional portrayal of Adam in particular. He has the most extensive character development of anyone in this book by far. I did not want his adventure to end and was a little sad to say goodbye at the end of the plot.
Out of the Cave is full of questions about human nature. It’s a good choice for readers who like to have their minds stretched, and I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind a little philosophy in their young adult fiction.