Forty Days (Neima’s Ark #1)
by Stephanie Parent
Release Date: 02/10/13
Readers looking for a traditional, religiously oriented
version of the Noah’s Ark story should be warned that
Forty Days may not appeal to them. The novel will,
however, appeal to lovers of apocalyptic fiction,
historical fiction, and romance, as well as anyone who’s
ever dreamed of having a baby elephant as a pet.
Forty Days is on sale this week only for only $.99! Go get your copy!
From the author—
The entire village knows Neima’s grandfather is a madman. For years the old man has prophesied that a great flood is coming, a flood disastrous enough to blot out the entire earth. He’s even built an enormous ark that he claims will allow his family to survive the deluge. But no one believes the ravings of a lunatic…
…until the rain starts. And doesn’t stop. Soon sixteen-year-old Neima finds her entire world transformed, her life and those of the people she loves in peril. Trapped on the ark with her grandfather Noah, the rest of her family, and a noisy, filthy, and hungry assortment of wild animals, will Neima find a way to survive?
With lions, tigers, and bears oh my, elephants and flamingos too, along with rivalries and betrayals, a mysterious stowaway, and perhaps even an unexpected romance, Forty Days is not your grandfather’s Noah’s Ark story.
OK, let me get rid of the bad stuff first. What did I not like about Forty Days?
Um, well, let me think…oh, yeah! It’s too short.
Yep, that’s all I can come up with—it’s too short.
Forty Days is exactly the reason I often don’t like novellas, novelettes, short stories, what have you. If I don’t connect with the story or the characters or the writing, the truncated offering is a good thing because it means I haven’t spent a lot of time on something I didn’t care for. On the other hand, when I DO really buy into it, I’m so disappointed that it ends much too soon. I want it to go on and give me so much more. So, yes, I didn’t like that this book is too short because I just loved it and I didn’t get enough.
Stephanie Parent has taken a story people all over the world know and crafted a world around it that is believable and, for me, makes the core story come alive. The Noah’s Ark tale means something different to everyone; to me, it’s the quintessential biblical allegory meant to make sense of an event that would have been overwhelming to the people of the time. We know that a horrendous flood almost certainly occurred. Did it cover the entire earth? No, not in a literal sense, but isn’t it interesting that the Noah’s Ark story exists in such similar forms in so many cultures? It’s easy to understand that the people directly affected would have seen this as a divine event and would weave their own explanations for it. It’s also believable that this event could have been the catalyst for belief in a single God.
Another thing that I like about Ms. Parent’s treatment of the basic tale is her acknowledgement that the taking in of the pairs of animals could reasonably only have meant those animals known to live in the immediate area or within trading distance. That would still be an inordinate number of species but it’s at least more manageable than to believe two of every living creature were taken into the Ark (except, of course, for the unlucky unicorn). I also definitely appreciated Ms. Parent not shirking the unpleasantness that would be inevitable on a closed container of humans and animals.
The characters in Forty Days are all so normal, so likeable—or not—just as people usually are and I found even those who are violently opposed to Noah truly understandable. The members of his family, though, are who really bring the story to life because you can’t help knowing that you’d most likely respond to him in the very same way, tolerating his craziness because he is the patriarch but hoping that his madness will somehow go away so they can return to a comfortable co-existence with their neighbors.
Neima is a girl it’s easy to love. She has the expected teenage angst going on but she loves her family and only wants to be happy and accepted by the community for herself, not ostracized because she’s the granddaughter of a crazy old man. She has one friend, Derya, who can look past Neima’s family failings while her relationships with Jorin and Kenaan don’t resemble the common love triangles found in so many young adult novels, something I appreciated. I’d much rather go along with her on her “journey” as she finds what her heart really wants. Best of all, though, is Neima’s relationship with her father and how it changes as Neima has to accept that he is not perfect.
This first volume of the Neima’s Ark duology ends in a real cliffhanger but I’m grateful that we don’t have long to wait for the second book, Forty Nights, due out in June. I can barely wait and that reminds me of one other thing I don’t like about Forty Days—I have to wait two months for the conclusion.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2013.
About the Author
Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles because of Francesca Lia Block’s WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.