REVIEW: The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Genre: Fiction/ Humor, Pages: 272, Level: Easy/ Intermediate

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost- who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs- decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the hilarious story of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish- all in a country where the only music to be heard for miles around is “La Macarena.” He and his stalwart girlfriend Sylvia spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters, including “Half-Dead Fred” and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who’s never written a poem in his life).

With The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Maarten Troost has delivered one of the most original, rip-roaringly funny travelogues in years- one that will leave you thankful for staples of American civilization such as coffee, regular showers, and tabloid news, and that will provide the ultimate vicarious adventure.

This book is one of the funniest books I have ever read. It is about a couple who live on a small island in the South Pacific and how they adjust to a radically different environment, one that the girlfriend’s predecessor left before her contract was up because she had just had enough.

There is history in the book and it is told in such a humorous fashion that I looked some of it up to make sure it was real and indeed it is. I found old articles about some of the events that Troost describes, including Kiribati’s poet laureate. I only wish that Troost had written all my high school and college history textbooks and encourage him to look into that as soon as possible.

My favorite thing about the book is that it makes you re-evaluate your thoughts on everyday things Americans are accustomed to- the numerous brands and types of butter, doggie spas, what is considered food, things you really can live without, burning butts, the planes I would fly in are probably safe in comparison, La Macarena and so much more.

I cannot even begin to do this book justice in such a short blurb. I am glad someone in the library placed this book on a recommended reading display and that I had a little leisure time to browse on that particular day. I was obviously meant to read this book and if you have actually read this review, I am pretty sure you are too.

Reviewed by Christina

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