The People in the Trees

A Novel

    • 3.7 • 88 Ratings
    • $11.99
    • $11.99

Publisher Description

A thrilling anthropological adventure story with a profound and tragic vision of what happens when cultures collide—from the bestselling author of National Book Award–nominated modern classic, A Little Life

“Provokes discussions about science, morality and our obsession with youth.” —Chicago Tribune

It is 1950 when Norton Perina, a young doctor, embarks on an expedition to a remote Micronesian island in search of a rumored lost tribe. There he encounters a strange group of forest dwellers who appear to have attained a form of immortality that preserves the body but not the mind. Perina uncovers their secret and returns with it to America, where he soon finds great success. But his discovery has come at a terrible cost, not only for the islanders, but for Perina himself. 

Look for Hanya Yanagihara’s new novel, To Paradise, available now.

Fiction & Literature
August 13
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Penguin Random House LLC

Customer Reviews

mzspaztastic ,

Passable, but not for everyone

Have you ever read a book with protagonist that you both hate and want to like at the same time? This is one of those books. The People in the Trees, which is loosely based on a true story, is about a Nobel prize winning scientist who discovers the key to immortality and, in the process, changes the lives of the inhabitants of a small island. In the decades following his breakthrough discovery, he adopts 40+ children from the small island from which the key to immorality rests, and in the end his goodwill proves to be his undoing.

Reading about scientists is a tricky thing. On the one hand, I hated the main character, Norton, for his treatment of lab animals and the people he discovered on the small island. He had no qualms with tying humans to trees or killing lab animals. But on the other hand, I don’t think he’s a malicious man, but rather that he is emotionally distant, incredibly rational (think Temperance Brennan from Bones), and absolutely brilliant. I also had to keep reminding myself that the book took place in the 1950′s, which was before they had rules in place for how to treat human subjects. It doesn’t make his actions right, but it does make them more understandable, under the circumstances.

As for whether or not I would recommend this book, I’m torn. If you’re a science buff or interested in undiscovered civilizations, then I say go for it. It is a great lesson in cultural relativism and the longterm effects of upsetting a natural environment. But if you’re looking for a heartwarming story, then this one isn’t for you. It’s steeped in reality and reality isn’t always pretty.

LoverOfAlllll ,

Such a great concept

The concept of this book is magnificent. The fact that it's based on a true story makes it even better. I appreciate books like this.

RedViking58 ,

Not For Me

I made it halfway through the book but couldn’t finish it because I found the subject matter to be repulsive.

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