I got this through the First to Read program.
Pierce seems to excel in telling the middle of stories. And his beginnings are pretty good. The ends, well, are left entirely off in some cases. Maybe there's something artistic to that. Some statement that life always continues on, that there is no end to our stories until death. But in a few of these stories it just felt lazy. I guess I felt that most strongly about the very first story in the collection, about a mini mammoth resurrected from the long ago, and returned to it in the subset of stories that confirmed that conclusion.
But there are several stories in here that I felt were really well done. The one I felt was most poignant was a story of a father and his son in an organization that was a parody of boy scouts, or some related organization. Both father and son are looking to belong to something, and it was a well-told, well-constructed story. I loved it.
Many of the stories are about fathers and sons of various stripes, making this collection more about family than it is about small mammals. The title story involves a man interacting with his girlfriend's son, an odd, uncomfortable relationship he's trying to work out (and ultimately fails). The theme of fathers and sons was, I felt, the strongest, and the work shone best when it centered on this theme. The first story that I disliked was about a mother and son, so really not that far from the theme, but the relationship part of the story was what worked best about the story. The details of the plot were what I objected to. But the family, in all of its complication, works.
In the end, I enjoyed this collection and the themes within it. It's a collection, so naturally I liked some stories better than others. It was uneven, but the best stories were really touching and thought-provoking, and I loved them.