Alex Cooper’s “The Mating Game” has it all!
Discovering the article “Local Man Refuses to Accept Gay Penguins” by Alex Cooper brought much enjoyment that forced the purchase of his book The Mating Game. The book proved an equally pleasurable experience, not unlike watching Animal Planet mate with E-harmony to produce a mutant reminiscent of Gary Larson’s Farside. Unique, fun, and educational, The Mating Game is a must for the animal lover’s library.
The well-edited book contained a few forgivable, minor errors making reading easy. Dissuading my initial assumption of another cute animal collage factoid, reading The Mating Game reveals a hilarious zoological sex education course covering many species. From the start, the book caught my attention with a silverback’s foreword that launches a series of profiles for an animal dating app. Many strange, unknown facts concerning nonhuman dating emerge from the reading, which collectively expresses life’s rich diversity. I enjoyed this element immensely compared with reading textbooks or watching bizarre animal pornography.
More than a sex education class, The Mating Game forces contemplation of human sexual behaviors and beliefs: not all bad, not all good. For sure, humans enjoy safer sex than the mantis, who may lose his head during the act, but animals also seem far less prone to homophobia. Learning the Booby will hurl brothers and sisters from the nest to survive doesn’t evoke hate for the species, elucidating human propensity to kill one another for far less necessary reasons of money, race, or desire. The Bonobo having sex to say hello, goodbye, or just for the hell of being social reflects the need for human communities to be more receptive to different races, creeds, and nationalities. These introspections speak to the book’s informative function but also to the underlying theme of respecting diversity. I commend this educational quality that steers readers away from animals anthropomorphized with ridiculous religious perspectives, which is ironic since the book accomplishes this task using anthropomorphism. Bravo!
Cooper’s ability to show diversity may form the book’s only weakness when he sometimes strays from this sexual diversity theme going deeper into animal facts. I would enjoy, perhaps in a future iteration, a focus on other aspects of sexual diversity. This is not to say that The Mating Game lacks this quality, just that gender and sexual diversity could clarify and strengthen further without clobbering the reader.
My harshest criticism focuses on a formatting issue caused by words embedded in illustrations. Separating text from photos would disrupt reading less by eliminating constant adjustment to the font size. Again, this is a forgivable issue because illustrations can be a challenge in KDP.
The book’s greatest strength is the author’s affinity for this planet’s creatures, and though The Mating Game is a humorous read, much wisdom gleans from the author’s respect and love for life.