Book Review: The Bear by Andrew Krivak (3/5)

26 Jan

This is yet another book club selection that I successfully avoided descriptions of before starting. Based on the cover, I’d assumed it would have to do with stars and Ursa Major or Ursa Minor. While it came up briefly, I was totally off base. I’m not sure if I would have preferred that, though.

Cover image via Amazon

The Bear by Andrew Krivak

Summary from Amazon:

In an Edenic future, a girl and her father live close to the land in the shadow of a lone mountain. They possess a few remnants of civilization: some books, a pane of glass, a set of flint and steel, a comb. The father teaches the girl how to fish and hunt, the secrets of the seasons and the stars. He is preparing her for an adulthood in harmony with nature, for they are the last of humankind. But when the girl finds herself alone in an unknown landscape, it is a bear that will lead her back home through a vast wilderness that offers the greatest lessons of all, if she can only learn to listen.

I was kind of excited about the Endenic setting and the survival aspect of the book. There are things that the girl and her father have inherited from our era like books and windows. However, most of what they have is made or found and they are very reliant on themselves and their skills. Knowledge has been passed down and that’s critical for their survival. Without bows and hunting skills or the ability to smoke and preserve meat, there’s no way they’d live. I was fascinated by the knowledge that the girl inherited. I think this is part of what I enjoyed in the first half of the book. Once the title Bear came into the story, I really lost my interest and the entire second half of the book was a bit of a chore for me.

The girl and her father felt very real to me. I could understand the love he demonstrated for her and I could understand her actions and instincts to survive and return home to a degree. It was when the bear showed up that I thought things got a little wonky and I stopped believing this was realistic fiction. I wanted something more concrete that I could sink my teeth into and it ended up feeling like a fable.

The father was my favorite character. I thought he was a great teacher and he showed his love for his daughter well. He taught her what she needed to know as soon as she was old enough to learn it because he knew she might have to survive alone. I thought he was kind and wise.

I related best to the girl. She was always eager to learn and try new things and I relate to that. When she learned to do something, she put it into practice quickly and was eager to show she was a good student. The way she made her own shoes and bow after her father had taught her proved that she absorbed the information well.

Andrew Krivak
Image via Simon & Schuster

The journey the girl and her father took too the ocean was my favorite part. I liked how he taught her about the world before and showed her how to do new things as they traveled. I thought he prepared her well to be able to make the trip again if she needed to.

I’m going to talk about the bear and the twist that happens at half way so please skip this paragraph if you want to avoid that. I was so angry when a sentient bear showed up half way through the book. The book went from a survival book to a fable about preserving the environment and communing with nature. I felt like it was a bait-and-switch and I wanted it to end. I slogged through the second half of the book.

The girl learned to work with nature instead of against it to live. She took what she needed but started giving something back as well. It felt like the author had a strong message about environmentalism and I think it was a bit heavy-handed. When civilization ends, nature will take over, much as it did in this book. It seems like we’re being told not to fight it because we will succumb in time.

Writer’s Takeaway: Krivak’s writing was really beautiful and lyrical and it helped me fall in love with the story early on. He had a great way of writing the love the father had for his daughter into his actions. I liked the flow of time in the book and how the author skipped to important events without feeling like we were missing things in between.

A novel that started off great but took a turn I couldn’t take seriously. Three out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the Future time period of the 2021 When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts: 
The Bear by Andrew Krivak | North of Oxford 
Book Review: The Bear by Andrew Krivak | Hamlets & Hyperspace 

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8 Responses to “Book Review: The Bear by Andrew Krivak (3/5)”

  1. Angela January 26, 2021 at 9:47 PM #

    This sounds like a pretty intriguing story. Sorry to hear it ended up not being completely satisfying all the way through.


    • Sam January 27, 2021 at 8:15 AM #

      The writing was pretty great. I’d read something else by the author, I just wasn’t a fan of this story. Happy reading!


  2. whatcathyreadnext January 27, 2021 at 4:51 AM #

    This sounds very different from the only book by Andrew Krivak I’ve read, The Signal Flame, which I absolutely loved.


    • Sam January 27, 2021 at 8:16 AM #

      I loved his writing so if the story is very different I’d probably like that one, too. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rae Longest January 30, 2021 at 6:20 PM #

    This was a really cool post.



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    […] You Don’t Now the Words // Bianca Marais (4/5) A Pale View of Hills // Kazuo Ishiguro (3/5) The Bear // Andrew Krivak (3/5) Kindred // Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and John […]


  2. Book Club Reflection: The Bear by Andrew Krivak | Taking On a World of Words - February 22, 2021

    […] book club met recently to read a book I was not a fan of, The Bear by Andrew Krivak. Krivak was a National Book Award finalist for another book, The Sojourn, and is […]


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