Book Review: ‘Pod’ by Laline Paull

An emotional tale of interconnectedness between the beings!


Book Title: Pod
Author: Laline Paull
Publisher: Corsair
Number of Pages: 284
ISBN: 978-1472156624
Date Published: Apr. 07, 2022
Price: INR 553

POD by Laline Paull Book Cover

Book Review

Author Laline Paull’s “Pod” takes readers on an enchanting journey beneath the waves of the Indian Ocean, immersing them in a vibrant world teeming with marine creatures. Author Laline Paull is a British novelist whose debut novel, The Bees, was nominated for the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction; her 2017 cli-fi novel is titled The Ice, and her 2022 novel “Pod” was nominated for the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction and made the shortlist. Drawing from real-world marine life’s intricate biology and behavior, Paull weaves a captivating tale of belongingness and culture. This literary masterpiece transcends genres, speaking to the hearts of fiction, fantasy, and magical realism enthusiasts alike.

Notably, “Pod” carries an urgent environmental message, exposing the devastating impact humans can have on animal life.
At the heart of the story lies Ea, a spinner dolphin whose deafness sets her apart from her pod.

When tragedy befalls her family, Ea becomes burdened by guilt and ventures alone. Her encounter with a group of bottlenose dolphins changes the course of her life, and the narrative delves into themes of family, belonging, and sacrifice within the intricate tapestry of ocean life.

The theme of sacrifice in “Pod” interweaves seamlessly with other profound motifs within the book. It underscores the significance of family and belonging, illuminating the transformative power of selflessness. Additionally, the novel’s more prominent theme of growth and change finds resonance in Ea’s journey as she evolves from a place of isolation and guilt to one of understanding and interconnectedness. This metamorphosis brings a richer perspective on her pod and its place within the vast ocean community. Through the eyes of Ea and other marine creatures, readers witness the harmony and tragedy within the pod amidst the vast expanse of the ocean.

Paull’s storytelling prowess shines through the vivid characterization of Ea, a spinner dolphin who embodies resilience and growth. Her encounters with the bottlenose dolphins expose her to diverse cultures and social hierarchies among marine creatures. Furthermore, Ea gains a firsthand understanding of the profound environmental repercussions of human activities in the ocean, shedding light on the delicate balance of life beneath the waves. Ea’s transformation resonates deeply with the overarching theme of sacrifice in “Pod.” Through her selfless acts, the novel explores the intricate connections between sacrifice, family, and belonging.

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Moreover, these sacrifices intertwine with the book’s broader environmental message, showcasing the destructive power of human actions on the intricate ecosystem. As Ea navigates her newfound understanding, she learns that sacrifice can be necessary for the greater good and foster a profound sense of purpose and connection. This results in readers being treated with a gripping and lush narrative adorned with Keatsian adjectives that evoke the whole sensory experience of the marine world.

As Ea’s journey unfolds, One cannot overlook the musicality that permeates “Pod,” capturing the essence of the dolphins’ sonar-driven existence. Sound and music emerge as prominent themes, enhancing the immersive reading experience. Any reader familiar with Dolphins and their feats can relate to it easily. Paull’s beautiful imagery paints stunning oceanic landscapes, skillfully melding scientific fact with poetic fiction. Readers will simultaneously delight in the author’s ability to educate and entertain, fostering a deep appreciation for the ocean’s wonders.

Thus, “Pod” has garnered praise from critics and readers alike, thanks to its unique perspective and masterful integration of real-world biology into a captivating fictional realm. This book will captivate lovers of literary fiction, fantasy, and environmental themes, serving as a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness of all living beings.