Summary from goodreads:
The entire village knows Neima’s grandfather is a madman. For years the old man has prophesied that a great flood is coming, a flood disastrous enough to blot out the entire earth. He’s even built an enormous ark that he claims will allow his family to survive the deluge. But no one believes the ravings of a lunatic…
…until the rain starts. And doesn’t stop. Soon sixteen-year-old Neima finds her entire world transformed, her life and those of the people she loves in peril. Trapped on the ark with her grandfather Noah, the rest of her family, and a noisy, filthy, and hungry assortment of wild animals, will Neima find a way to survive?
With lions, tigers, and bears oh my, elephants and flamingos too, along with rivalries and betrayals, a mysterious stowaway, and perhaps even an unexpected romance, FORTY DAYS is not your grandfather’s Noah’s Ark story.
FORTY DAYS is approximately 45000 words, the length of a shorter novel, and is the first installment in a two-part epic story. It does contain a cliffhanger ending.
Readers looking for a traditional, religiously oriented version of the Noah’s Ark story should be warned that FORTY DAYS may not appeal to them. The novel will, however, appeal to lovers of apocalyptic fiction, historical fiction, and romance, as well as anyone who’s ever dreamed of having a baby elephant as a pet.
I was actually really excited to read this book. I don’t read much historical fiction, actually, I can say I don’t think I’ve read anything historical fiction since high school but I was immediately drawn into Neima’s world. Almost everyone in Western civilization (and beyond) has heard of Noah and his ark but this book took Noah’s story and made it more real.
It never really occurred to me that people might have thought Noah’s was a lunatic. I forget, even though I was raised Catholic, that there was a time when Christianity was thought to be absolutely ridiculous. So seeing Noah through Neima’s (his granddaughter) eyes was interesting and amusing. Neima allowed us to see how her family was treated because of her grandfather, and also the less than awe-inspiring side of Noah. I also just loved Neima, although she lives in a time where speaking your mind and disobeying your elders is seriously frowned upon and pretty much unheard of, she doesn’t allow herself to be a complete doormat. I respect that about her. She’s also real and honest, things that a lot of YA heroines are lacking today. I especially love when she defends herself against her cousin, Keenan, who is an absolute pig. Brownie points for pulling a knife, girlfriend.
The whole story, to me, was magical. It’s always nice to see a YA author who takes their time with their story and doesn’t add really outlandish details. For example, Parent uses creatures that would actually be found in the area Noah is from. This means there aren’t giraffes or monkeys running around on Noah’s ark, because let’s be honest, it’s highly unlikely Noah would know what a monkey is or even miss it when gathering the animals to take aboard. I also love her writing, it’s pretty much flawless and she gives just enough detail to keep you hanging on to every word. I didn’t want it to end but alas, all good things must eventually end, especially at extremely climatic places.
I would seriously recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and won’t be offended by Parent’s take on the classic tale. This isn’t a religious book, although written about a religious icon, and shouldn’t really be taken in that context. So don’t let the “religious” part steer you away – it’s an awesome read!