When The Killing's Done


I chose to review a book that partly reflects today’s relevant issues of climate change and environmental sustainability. Although I’m definitely not an environmental expert, I do love our planet and want to start making some changes in order to help keep Earth around for generations to come. From November 30th –December 11th 2015, Paris held the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11). Thank goodness for acronyms right?

 A final draft agreement has just been presented by the French COP21 presidency to the representatives of 195 countries. This is great news and hopefully a step closer to an everlasting Earth.

For more information on climate change and Paris’ recent convention visit: http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en/



As I approached the last few pages of T.C. Boyle’s When The Killing’s Done, I began to see the final connections of the plot being fulfilled, leaving me satisfied with the relationship I had built with the novel. Three generations of characters present themselves throughout the novel and by the end I found a new value and appreciation for the somewhat cliché theme “history repeats itself.” Although the theme is seemingly cliché, the sense of continuation leaves readers with closure. Embedded in this work of fiction are elements of stormy seas, drama filled debates, devoted maternal figures, shipwrecks and scientific ideologies, that help glamorize and promote the very relevant issues of the environment and how the history of an environment also has ways of repeating itself.

T.C. Boyle is the author of 24 books of fiction, including After the Plague and Wild Child. He received his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1974, is a distinguished professor at University of California and has won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988 for his third novel, World’s End.

When the Killing’s Done is smart and engaging. It caters to a wide audience, but especially speaks to environmentalist and Californians, compliments to the plot and the setting. The plot exposes readers to the different sides of environmental and animal care issues through two foiling characters and the setting takes place along California’s coast and Channel Islands.

Boyle develops an intriguing and complex feud between two activists, Alma Takesue and Dave LaJoy. Alma works on the conservation of ecosystems, which sometimes entails the killing off of invasive species, whereas Dave believes that people should not intervene with the killing of animals. Alma and Dave battle out their differences in court, out on sea, in fancy restaurants, along the coastline, and on the Channel Islands. There’s no battle ground these two are afraid to fight on. Even with their polar opposite viewpoints, it’s only a matter of time before nature interferes to reveal their similarities. It can be learned from this novel that as much as we can try to control the environment, nature will always be the stronger force.

Alma and Dave are both passionate about the same things, they just go about it in different ways. Boyle’s use of focalization helps portray both positive and negative qualities of these individuals. He reveals glimpses of the character’s past life events which helps with understanding and developing a sometimes unexpected sympathy towards the characters. It is easier to see both sides of the argument through these characters but that also makes it less clear to as what is truly the right way to handle the situation they’re in. Any book that makes one question their morals or causes deep soul searching deserves the highest of praise, and that’s exactly what T.C. Boyle’s When the Killing’s Done accomplishes.

Kiana Noble