TeenLit Book Reviews

October 2000

The Baboon King

Anton Quintala

The Baboon King, by Anton Quintala, is a story of survival. The story itself seems so real that it is hard to believe it is a work of fiction. Morengaru is an independent, solitary, strong native hunter, living in the areas of Tanzania and Kenya, most likely in the present day. Born of a Kikuyu mother and a Masai father, Morengaru has felt like an outsider for all of his life. After a fatal misunderstanding, Morengaru is banished from the Kikuyu tribe. He wanders through the African grasslands until he meets up with a tribe of baboons. Their leader, or king, steps forwards and challenges Morengaru to a fight. Armed with only his knife and his brute strength, Morengaru accepts. The fight ends: the baboon king is dead, Morengaru is seriously crippled. Morengaru’s helplessness forces him to stay near the area of the baboons. Morengaru now must adapt to living with the baboons; yet still somehow hope to return to human civilization. Gripping and realistic, this story will have you on the edge of your seat. Quintala writes with the knowledge and confidence of one who has been around these African and baboon tribes. I felt that this book was very well written. As said, Quintala writes with knowledge and confidence. Originally I had thought that the book wasn’t going to be that good. My mind had no empty space that was craving to be filled with knowledge of the baboons or African tribespeople. However, my mind changed upon reading into the book. The story is very nicely tied together, in connections that make sense and are easy to grasp. The book is filled with descriptions: descriptions of the African grasslands, the jungle, the animals who live there, and the tribes of the Kikuyu and the Masai. These descriptions are great for laying down the setting of the book and they are not too long, losing the reader’s attention. No book is perfect though, and The Baboon King had its weaknesses. At one point during the story, when Morengaru is first living near the baboons, I was struck by this “this is getting a little boring,” thought. However, the action rose after a little bit, and then I was engrossed once again. The Baboon King, a story of survival, is not for everyone. This book is for people who enjoy reading about situations of survival, and plots set in the present-day world. Although I knew nothing about the life of African tribespeople, I did not let this hinder my reading. In the end, it did not matter what my knowledge was, since the book was very clear and knowledgeable. Readers who will probably enjoy The Baboon King are those who have liked other novels such as Hatchet and The Lord of the Flies. The Baboon King is difficult reading material, and I would recommend it to readers in sixth grade and above. Basically you, the potential reader, decide for yourself whether or not The Baboon King is for going to capture your enthusiasm. I highly enjoyed this book and recommend it to others interested in such novels. 3½ (out of 4 stars)
Reviewed by Carolyn. Grade: ----- in Sherrill, - Link directly to entry
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