Book Review: Perpetuating The Species by Spencer Phelps

15704144Title: Perpetuating The Species
Author: Spencer Phelps
Genre: Humor, Fiction
Publisher: Book Baby
Publication Date: July 1st 2012
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On one hand, Mike Lynch hates kids. He can’t stand how they scream all the time, poop themselves, everything. That probably comes from his father reminding Mike throughout his childhood that he was never wanted. On the other hand, that ice of indifference surrounding Mike’s biological clock starts to thaw after his girlfriend gives birth to someone else’s child.
Mike believes everything has a reason for existing, including our naughty bits. He now has a desperate urge to fulfill his basic human duty by using those bits to procreate. He just doesn’t want to deal with the aftermath. To get around this self-imposed dilemma, Mike takes a three-day weekend trip to Indiana, finds some women who are also looking to get laid, and tries to get them pregnant. He justifies his actions by assuming the people he encounters are going to get pregnant during one-night stands anyway. At least with his being the sperm donor, their child will be born to serve a greater purpose: Mike’s.
When he returns to Indiana a year later to see if the scheme was a success, confronting the results of his actions elicits more emotions than he knew he had. Now Mike has no idea how he’ll react when he discovers his child.

Perpetuating The Species is a humorous fiction novel that talks about a journey of self-discovery. At the start of the novel, we meet our main character, Mike. Working at a tourist agency in Marion, Ohio, Mike has a pretty normal life except for one thing – his girlfriend, Sarah, is pregnant. Mike isn’t prepared to become a Dad at all. In fact, he’s confident he’d be the worst Dad ever, following his own father’s example. But still, he loves Sarah, so he wants to give this kid thing a try. Until the baby is born and it turns out Mike isn’t the Dad at all.

Wallowing over the break-up, Mike feels depressed, until his best buddy Ben comes up with a “genius” idea. What about they go on a weekend trip, and Mike tries to impregnate three women during the weekend? Instead of seeing why this is the more horrible idea ever, Mike goes along with it. The two men end up driving all the way to Marion, Indiana where over the course of a weekend, Mike sleeps with three women – beautiful Phoebe, depressed gothic girl Dana and middle-aged Trisha who lives in a trailer park. Will the experience change Mike’s view on life, or will he still be as adversed toward children as he was at the beginning?

Perpetuating The Species is a well-written, humorous account of a man scared to become a father, and terrified of being as bad at it as his own father was. The writing is fluent, and the pace is high and consistent. Most of this novel is written from Mike’s POV, and the only problem with that was…I really didn’t like Mike. Not only is he an egotistical, superficial human being who goes on the most idiotic quest I’ve ever heard of to try and do – what exactly? Procreate? Create life? Become a Dad? Figure out if he’s Dad material after all? From an outsider’s point of view, it just looks like he wants to hurt people. Alright, maybe not intentionally, but as soon as you sit down to think about it, you realize almost instantly that nothing good can come from Ben and Mike’s quest. Also, the way Mike describes women is sometimes, well, sexist. He dotes on Phoebe because she’s beautiful, but then can’t wait to get away from Dana because she’s not.

Now, I really don’t like Mike, but I doubt it was the author’s intention to make us like his main character, especially at the beginning. That’s why the main purpose of this book is Mike’s road to self-discovery, filled with some humor and hilarious situations along the way. I definitely applaud the author for taking a chance and making his character not instantly likeable. That takes a lot of courage, and it makes it that much harder to get your audience to continue reading. I had to read this from start to end though, so that definitely wasn’t a problem.

Along the way, I began to warm up to Mike. Some men will probably recognize themselves or part of themselves in Mike. I do think this book is aimed primarily at men, and since I’m a woman, I often had more trouble with understanding Mike’s sense of humor (which is often mildly degrading toward women). I loved one particular scene with Mike and Dana, when he finally shows us a bit of another side to him, a warmer, heartier side. I was a bit dissapointed to see that side disappear that quickly, but was glad when it resurfaced.

Perpetuating The Species combines humor and an interesting story, with intriguing characters, and makes for an entertaining read.


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