Not sure if it's me getting older, or King getting older, but I can't find as much enjoyment in his books anymore. I grew up on his books and read eveNot sure if it's me getting older, or King getting older, but I can't find as much enjoyment in his books anymore. I grew up on his books and read every one of them (until the ridiculous Under The Dome), then stopped. Eventually lack of other material persuaded me to grab this one.
(probable spoilers to follow)
One general complaint to start: Part of the charm of King has been going back to visit certain places (Derry, Castle Rock, Midworld, etc). It used to feel like a homecoming. Around the last book of the DT series I realized that King had all-out committed to "hey, why not make all of my books part of the same story??" and it has killed the mood quite a bit. I am so tired of hearing about every other book that he ever wrote in every new book. It is trying to capitalize off the fact that I loved those stories, but instead of feeling nostalgic or clever I end up feeling like a pressed button. Not very flattering. This book suffers heavily from these cross-references: you'll find some from The Stand, IT, The Running Man, and the Dark Tower mythos just to name a few.
Onto this book in particular: The pros are a familiar storyline to most Americans, and some effective emotional writing. Even if you hadn't lived through the Kennedy Assassination, he does relate the gravitas relatively well. The historical details are researched well and there is a section at the end where he even corrects some liberties he took. As far as a story goes, it is moderately effective and has a bittersweet but satisfactory ending. I teared up a bit, but not being much of a crying (wo)man, did not end up dropping one. Moving on.
The cons are an unfortunate many. First is the rampant book bloat: as a few other reviews have mentioned, the book is overlong by what feels like at least a hundred pages. I felt my attention wilt several times. Secondly, many of the major characterizations felt frenetic and disjointed. We get a somewhat shabbily reconstructed insight into Oswald and what may have made him do what he did, but I do question what the point was overall. I didn't end up really feeling anything for him or his family, nor did I care very much for the "mystery" that the investigation was supposed to solve. The surveillance scenes were a great way for King to show off his research but just felt dull and uninformative (not to mention ultimately wasted) overall. Third: Sadie and George's relationship was nice but also didn't strike me as the romance of the century either. As far as King's romance goes, I thought Wizard and Glass presented a better and more realistic arc; here it felt providential at best... and getting very annoyed with the battered, mutilated (but strong!!) woman trope. It felt tacked on and, given the number of times I've read it from him, musty as well. And last, the book is very heavy with other Kingisms like spelling out Maine accents, bolded/ uppercase transcriptions of poorly-spelled graffito, repetition to induce emotion, english teaching, beasts with stupid names, etc...
Again, not sure if the source of my dismay comes from familiarity with his writing style, or if its just indicative of my personal tastes changing over time. I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as I wanted. However, overall I enjoyed it far more than I have a lot of his recent writings, so there's that. If you're a rabid, diehard King fan you will probably have a good time. Same goes for King newbies. But if you're one of those readers who, like me, takes some joy from trying to figure out how the goose lays the golden eggs, well, you'll probably be mildly disappointed....more
**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
Fantastic. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I wish I'd read it 10 years ago... hell, 20 years ago even, just to give single-digits me sometFantastic. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I wish I'd read it 10 years ago... hell, 20 years ago even, just to give single-digits me something to think about. Incredible details, charming vignettes, and most of all a sense of camaraderie and respect for one's peers that I feel is just as worth reading about as all the adventure. The end broke my heart, but in a way where I know I'll never forget how reading this book made me feel. ...more
I enjoyed this book very much. Jordan did a great deal of research and it really shows... the only negative I had was about her portrayal of Dudley asI enjoyed this book very much. Jordan did a great deal of research and it really shows... the only negative I had was about her portrayal of Dudley as some kind of exalted figure. I'd agree with her (based on her writing) that he wasn't simply a caricature of a millionaire, but I don't know if I'd go so far as to call him a hero either. He seemed more like a normal person with an adventurous spirit who met an unfortunate end thanks to a tragic choice of teammates and lack of communication.
I'd recommend this book to someone else though. I found the descriptions of early high altitude climbing fascinating, and in gritty contrast to the Savage Summit book of the 1953 expedition that followed....more
I enjoyed this series so far for the storytelling, but this third book left me with a bad aftertaste. No spoilers here, but the historical inaccuracieI enjoyed this series so far for the storytelling, but this third book left me with a bad aftertaste. No spoilers here, but the historical inaccuracies really started to pile up by the last two chapters' end. I really dislike how years of battle would be truncated or just left out entirely. The last chapter is just crammed with falsehood. And as I closed this book, I realized that the story of Genghis and Jamuka had been entirely left out of the series!
To his credit, Iggulden does leave notes at the end explaining where he stretched the truth for the sake of an engaging plot, but I really think that he's doing a disservice to the true life and accomplishments of Genghis Khan....more