**spoiler alert** Maybe it was a product of overly-high expectations, but I was incredibly disappointed by this book.
First, to addr**spoiler alert** Maybe it was a product of overly-high expectations, but I was incredibly disappointed by this book.
First, to address the expectations part: The Terror is one of my favorite horror novels, not simply because of the historical details or the horrific subject. It also has a cast of interesting characters and a vein of the supernatural; the likes and quality of which I hadn't read for quite a while. So when The Abominable was announced, my mind immediately sprung back to The Terror and the promise of the same historical eeriness and something with yetis, hopefully.
The actual book wound up being a clumsy mishmash of unlikeable characters, basic research, and unbelievable happenstance. I started (then stopped) making a list of all of the inventions our heretofore unknown team of misfits came up with FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY for their incredible summit attempt: -female team member -jumars -modern ice axes and ice-boots with the nails at the front -polyfiber rope -waterproof, air-insulated clothing -freeze-resistant oxygen-tank apparatus -may summit attempt -successful first use of BOTH north and south face approaches
I am a casual armchair climber but even with my limited knowledge of climbing history, this is a bit too much. Since this story also tangentially involves Irving/ Mallory's doomed summit (attempt?), Simmons also throws in very basic mysterious details that you might have seen in a NOVA documentary, such as the fate of Mallory's camera, photo of the wife, discovery of the corpse (in the book, both corpses even, because why not), etc. And of course a random sky burial because why try hard when the culture does the work of dismembering the bodies for you? I feel like he had a bullet point list of "this might be creepy" and just kept checking them off as he assembled this book. Further ridiculous plot details include; an aside where the main character is a part of Schoening's famous Belay, what amounts to a ridiculous footrace against Nazis up the mountain, pedo Hitler (which is near the top of the list of least-inspired "he is a bad guy" cop-out plot-twists of all time) and ridiculous cameo appearances by Winston Churchill, TE Lawrence, Charlie Chaplin... I could go on because I dislike this book so much but maybe I'll leave some points for you to discover for yourself.
The book is also presented in mock "discovered notebook" format, with the odd choice of switching tenses about 2/3 of the way through, which wasn't terribly jarring but is still a bit bizarre.
I'm trying to think about some things that I enjoyed about this book but everything, from the characters to the plodding start to the plodding middle and ending really made reading this book a pain. The worst part is that I had been looking forward to it since mid-2012.
The only good points I can try and come up with... the research was present, if heavily leaned upon. The main character is likeable, although a mary-sue 90% of the time. Some interesting climbing scenes. The writing was smooth as ever. Nothing that would ever make me come back and read it a second time, but enough to save it from a one-star rating.
One last point I wanted to bring up... The title of "The Terror" immediately evokes a sense of not just the horror and unknown, but accurately describes the subject of the book (the ship that the characters are trapped on). "The Abominable" should, by comparison, describe the feeling of this book as well. However the only part of the book that is mentioned as such is the focus of the chase (some obscene photographs). The mountain, by comparison, is described as being perfect. Not necessarily evil, and certainly not abominable. There are very few, if any yetis involved as well. So again, even the title is misleading and disjointed, and I feel very let down.
To end on a slightly uplifting note: for a better mountain-horror read, perhaps try Houston's "K2- The Savage Mountain" or Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" for non-fiction, or Jeff Long's "The Wall" for fiction. They do a better job of evoking the mercilessness and the majesty of these high reaches than Simmon's shabby and unfortunate attempt. ...more
Interesting read presented with a storytelling style. Give a very nice slice of cave diving progression from early times to more recent (given when thInteresting read presented with a storytelling style. Give a very nice slice of cave diving progression from early times to more recent (given when the book was published) dives, and the dangers and excitement involved. The only strongly negative part for me was the lazy language (he calls Native American "Indians" in almost every instance, and called the moon a planet for some reason on one line, which is obviously extremely minor yet irksome). Oh, and I was also annoyed that the photos didn't sync well with the narrative, especially given lush descriptions of the caves and the treasures found within.
In summation, a good read for the stories, with some minor issues. ...more
I really really love Richard Matheson, but I really really hated this book. I won't spoil anything plotwise, but the main character is extremely whinyI really really love Richard Matheson, but I really really hated this book. I won't spoil anything plotwise, but the main character is extremely whiny and unlikeable. His confusion is shared wholesale with the reader... near the end I wanted to skip to the last few pages just to find out if he had any redeeming qualities (no). The ending was so bad I would have actually preferred the "and then he woke up, for it had all been a dream" cop-out... If you want to read a book about a man fighting against the currents of cruel fate, you can do a lot better with many of Matheson's other works....more
**spoiler alert** Some context: this is my second time reading this book, while on a binge-reread of all of M.C.'s works.
The first time I read this, a**spoiler alert** Some context: this is my second time reading this book, while on a binge-reread of all of M.C.'s works.
The first time I read this, a few years ago, I felt I was missing something. Maybe I wasn't picking up on the nuance, or not smart enough to follow along, but the narrative was very confusing to me. A few highlights stood out (mostly having to do with the animals) but there weren't any truly memorable moments.
On my second read-through I realized I was pretty much spot on the first time, and shouldn't have felt bad. The characters are bland and unmemorable. The situations are convoluted and confusing. For the first time in years I'm thinking back to AP History class in high school, and having to tear apart and interpret charts and documents inside an exam DBQ. For Pete's sake, he has two male children characters with the same exact name. Some of the scenarios seem downright ridiculous, such as forcibly extracting organ cells from a child because the cells of the parent are patented. There are just some simple logic cues that aren't being followed here, and I got the impression that MC might have been more amused while putting the book together than the reader was when reading it.
Anyways, distinctly unmemorable read, and pretty disappointing after having just consumed some of his earlier and much better works....more
I would have enjoyed this memoir a lot more if 1) it had been filed under the biography section in our library, and not the adventure/ climbing sectioI would have enjoyed this memoir a lot more if 1) it had been filed under the biography section in our library, and not the adventure/ climbing section 2) had it been more focused on Slakey's legitimately impressive global feats, and 3) if it wasn't written in the tone of a teenager's livejournal. I felt like I was reading an insincere high school student's college admittance essay, trying to convince me that they are more unique than their neighbor because they have overcome a personal struggle. I am not saying that he didn't do interesting and impressive things, because he did. I am saying that the writing is so watered down and self-glorifying that I found myself asking myself over and over what the point of continuing was. The book is punctuated frequently with things like "seeing these guys argue about driving skills for two hours made me realize that every human craves interconnectedness, and so did I" which is like... okay? I got the distinct feeling that he was writing this expecting the reader to be completely simple.
I finished the book with a strong feeling of resentment towards the author. Oftentimes the parts that you'd expect to be in the book: the climbing of the actual mountains, for example, are completely glossed over. If you want to hear about almost anything else though, from vignettes about growing up in a single-parent household to giving what is heavily implied to be the selfless humanitarian performance of the year after a massacre in New Guinea, then you'll find it here.
If you want to read a book for adventure, keep looking. There are so many better ones out there that I won't even bother recommending one, just don't pick up this one. If you want to read about an overly-simplified tale of one intelligent, slightly sociopathic man's journey to discover how not to be a total asshole to everyone, then read this instead....more
This is one of the worst books I've ever read. Imagine reading this without the illustrations... that's right, it's a horror novel. The characters areThis is one of the worst books I've ever read. Imagine reading this without the illustrations... that's right, it's a horror novel. The characters are wooden, the entire text is riddled with "tell, not show," nothing that happens was interesting or exciting or sensical or relatable. It's like being transported into a dimension where everything sucks.
I'll stop ranting and give an example. The main characters, who are being pursued by organic-hating robots, find a robot head that is wired as a bomb. Instead of doing anything a logical person would do, the main character acts on intuition and saves the head and recovers most of the body. This character has a hunch that the dismembered robot had acted on his behalf in the past, and so they journey on to the sanctuary of humans. They are captured by dinosaur-like beasts who guard the sanctuary, and brought into the midst of one of these huge human colonies. REMEMBER these humans HATE robots and think they are terrible and are constantly moving and hiding from them. And then a group of crazy looking dudes accompanied by a robot just gets escorted right into this high security compound. Then they have a literally I kid you not written out montage scene. If you like storytelling you'll be about two steps away from plucking your own eyes out.
The worst insult is that Orson Scott Card's name is on this book. If I were him I would be so ashamed that this error made it through. I'm going to assume that all the things that made sense were his doing, and the rest was Doug's fault, because I've read a lot of Card and I don't think he would have done this intentionally. ...more
Waste of time and $2.99. Less of a novella than a sketch, and not a particularly good sketch at that. King does a fine job of mopping up what little rWaste of time and $2.99. Less of a novella than a sketch, and not a particularly good sketch at that. King does a fine job of mopping up what little romance and mystery there was left of the Dark Tower series and throwing it in the incinerator....more
What a terrible book. None of the characters acted believably. Not one. Smith actually expects me to believe that a straight laced white-collar man wiWhat a terrible book. None of the characters acted believably. Not one. Smith actually expects me to believe that a straight laced white-collar man with a pregnant wife is going to trust a secret of such a huge magnitude to two people he dislikes and barely knows? Or that he wouldn't think of the larger ramifications of his actions or the drawbacks to the plan or the intelligence of any of the larger justice agencies? You eventually wind up rooting for the blatantly unsympathetic characters, which is a very very bad sign for any reader. I couldn't wait for the main characters to kill themselves, unfortunately that didn't come to pass, but the actual "resolution" isn't much better. The theme of this book was "the banality of evil," but wound up being an extended tangential essay on how bad Smith is at writing characters. Unfortunately the book is a giant character study. When I started reading this I almost wanted to compare it to another not-so-great book about found ill-gotten cash in a plane by Jeff Long called Angels of Light, but that title is actually far better than ASP one despite its major flaws. Please do yourself a favor, if you have any standards for yourself, and pass this book by if you see it sitting there on the library shelf. Trust me, your time can be better spent elsewhere....more
**spoiler alert** The Ruins is a story about a group of acquaintances who get themselves trapped on an ancient pyramid filled with asshole plants. The**spoiler alert** The Ruins is a story about a group of acquaintances who get themselves trapped on an ancient pyramid filled with asshole plants. Then they die. I wish there was something more to this book other than that, but it was written so simply and so blatantly that there really isn't any concept left to explore. Smith beats the reader over the head with his heavyhanded "theme" of inevitability, that the victims were drawn inexorably towards their fate due to tiny inconsequential choices that they made in the course of their traveling, but what does this really mean to the reader? I didn't feel horrified by the concept that everything I do may be leading towards an end, this is something that most rational people have already come to grips with by the time they reach adulthood.
Not that you're quite sure if the characters should be classified as adults. They are overwhelmingly unlikeable, one dimensional and shallow, and often written as if they're being transcribed from bullet points. The more subtle horrific elements of the story are still in-your-face enough to be annoying: copious mentions of excretion, vomit, rot, worms, blood. I get it, I'm supposed to be disgusted. There is no craft here, just throwing out key visuals that are gross no matter what the context. The plants themselves, the crux of the horror, are ridiculous. They do everything: they move super fast, they learn, they communicate throughout the structure, they mimic voices, they know English and German, they construct conversations that never happened, they can produce smells (?????!!) for no other reason than to psychologically mess with the victims?? Seriously, if these plants are so fucking great, why don't they just escape from the barrier of salt? or evolve oh, I don't know, wind-borne seeding? Since obviously mimicking ringtones and human language wasn't a challenge for them. Or, the bigger question, why do they even bother toying with the people at all? Why not just kill and eat them? Unless they are malevolent, which is what the book suggests, in which case why do I care at all about this ridiculous crap. Every good horror novel makes the reader think "what if this was me?" or at least allows for the reader to insert his own fears into the narrative... this one just makes you tired and bored and a little insulted.
Anyways maybe you can tell that I didn't care for this book. It's badly written, feels inorganically constructed, has no emotional resonance and it's not scary aside from the gore. If you want good adventure horror about strange lands and organisms, try some Clark Ashton Smith or some Jeff Long....more
The first time I read this book I was in 8th grade, and wasn't exactly brimming with literary experience. Now I'm 26 and just read it again for the seThe first time I read this book I was in 8th grade, and wasn't exactly brimming with literary experience. Now I'm 26 and just read it again for the second time... my god, I can't believe how awful this book is. I'll be fair and mention the positive first: the "bad guys" are rather... unique. You won't find characters like them in other books. And I thought their psychology, the plot twist at the end, and some of the strange powers that they have and places they get to were pretty interesting. THAT BEING SAID. The rest is trash. Dean Koontz pulls out all the stops here, piling on his favorite things: Asians (especially Vietnamese boat people), the mentally disabled, a duo of boring protagonists. As an authentic Asian person (wow) with a mentally disabled brother, I find his writing EXTREMELY annoying. He stereotypes his characters with a lot of "good" characteristics, but it's still stereotyping. Yes, Asians are quiet and tend to have a great work ethic. Except when we don't, because we weren't all pressed from some special mold. Moving on. Dean also can't go a book or two without giving the mentally disabled some kind of super power, which is a pretty shitty consolation prize if you ask me. Why can't they just be the awesome people they are? Unless you just wrote him in to yank on the easiest heartstrings. Before I stop ranting I'll mention the duo, who have some of the worst written dialogue in the world. They are utterly hateful people who justify their morally gray decisions by claiming to be "the good guys." I mean, yeah compared with the alternative, you are wonderful people. But in real life I'd be tempted to throw both of them under a bus. It's a sad day when you root for the generously besacked psycho at the end to finish all of them off. And then on top of all of that, Dean still can't one sentence without some ill-thought out metaphor ("the grass was as dry as sand, and twice as brown"). This guy gets paid good money for this, people. If I were you'd I'd skip this book unless you are in the mood for tearing your hair out....more
A long time fan, I was willing to take Stephen King seriously despite his last few books until I got to this one. I can't believe how bad it was. FirsA long time fan, I was willing to take Stephen King seriously despite his last few books until I got to this one. I can't believe how bad it was. First of all it should have been half the length, second of all the characters were all caricatures, but in the bad way where you still don't care about any of them. I literally wanted all of them to die. The plot was right up there with the worst of them, I'm looking at you Dreamcatcher. All we need is for Under the Dome to be a movie directed by M Night Shyamalan and then the cycle of terror will be complete....more