From Academic Kids

The novel Galápagos is Kurt Vonnegut's look at evolution, first published in 1985.

Galápagos is the story of a small band of mismatched humans who get shipwrecked on the island of Santa Rosalía in the Galápagos Islands after a global financial crisis has crippled the world's economy. Shortly thereafter, a disease renders all humans on earth infertile, with the exception of the people on Santa Rosalía, making them the last specimens of the human race. They eventually evolve into a race resembling seals.

The story's narrator is a ghost who has been watching over humans for the last million years. This particular ghost is the immortal spirit of Leon Trout, son of Vonnegut's recurring character Kilgore Trout. Leon maintains that all the miseries of humankind were caused by "the only true villain in my story: the oversize human brain". Fortunately, natural selection eliminates this problem, since the humans best fitted to Santa Rosalía were those who could swim best, which required a streamlined head, which in turn required a smaller brain size.

Like Vonnegut's earlier Slaughterhouse-Five, the story is fragmented and told out of sequence. Major events are rarely seen directly, but are rather alluded to and mentioned in reference to other events. In this way, the focus of the reader remains on the characters. The reader is not permitted to become carried away in the storyline itself. A New York Times reviewer observed,

Although not as moving as, say, Slaughterhouse-Five, Galapagos does have moments (of father-son vis-a-vis) that bring a glug to the throat. And although more wobblingly cobbled and arrhythmic comically than Breakfast of Champions, Galapagos can be as darkly funny. Mr. Vonnegut asterisks the names of characters who are going to die and, after their inevitably gruesome deaths, kisses them off with the elegiac "Oh, well—he wasn't going to write Beethoven's Ninth Symphony anyway." Early in the novel, he even puts Captain von Kleist on The Tonight Show, and what follow are the best laughs in the book.


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