T.C. Boyle's sweeping environmental saga shows that the epic battle of man versus nature will continue long after the killing's done.
Humans have incredibly complex, and often completely arbitrary, relationships with animals. We see rats as both pets and pests: They're adorable in Ratatouille, horrific in our homes. Some animal populations are deemed invasive and need to be euphemistically "controlled"; others are endangered and in need of saving. Each of us justifies our own opinions and choices about which animals should be eaten/protected/controlled with regard to everything from which kind of sushi we can feel good about ordering to which species merits a donation to the World Wildlife Fund.
These conflicts date at least as far back as the Bible's Ten Plagues. Centuries later some frogs plague residents of the Big Island of Hawaii with their ceaseless croaking, others find themselves arranged on a plate, still others are exhibited at the local aquarium. Animal-human relationships have become ever more complex, nuanced by such disparate forces as politics, Pixar, and PETA. Whatever the species or context, passions run high, a reality that makes the narrative of T.C. Boyles new novel, When the Killing's Done, gripping the whole way through.