Kristen Hauck's Reviews > Big Miracle

Big Miracle by Tom Rose
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Feb 12, 12

did not like it

** spoiler alert ** What a depressing reading experience. I am a sucker for inspiring animal stories, and I love love love whales and dolphins, so I've been enthralled by the trailers for this movie for some time. To give me my whale fix until the February release date, my boyfriend got me this book for Christmas. I was so looking forward to a light read with a happy ending. Yes, (spoilers!) some whales do get rescued, the result of some truly inspiring efforts. Unfortunately, all the joy is sucked out of these events by the author's frequent cynical asides, disdain for the subject matter, and atrocious writing. Tom Rose repeatedly refers to the whale rescue as a "nonevent" - I'd love to know how many times this word appears in the book - to the point where one starts to wonder why the hell he's bothering to write about it. He seems to be calling attention to the way the media calls attention to things that otherwise wouldn't merit attention, imbuing them with some kind of meaning through the mere act of media coverage...I meta of him.

My standards for this type of book are admittedly low; I'm not in it for the scintillating prose. But I'm certainly not expecting embarrassing typos and grammatical disasters on nearly every page. By all appearances, this is a first draft that was not even TOUCHED by an editor before it hit the shelves. How else do you explain the following:

"prioritizetze" (27)

"Once ignited, the wall's combusted like dry tinder." (79)

"How could the United Stated military only have two icebreakers? Plowden asked himself?"

"...would he peak in to catch the master of rage in action." (298)

"the grizzly case of executed American hostage Rich Higgins" (301)

For anyone who cares about the English language and who simply canNOT ignore errors like those, the fact that the book is riddled with them means 300+ pages of sheer frustration and distraction. And as far as tone goes, it doesn't get much snarkier than this: "The ultimate irony, of course, was that it was the 'evil' oil industry, not purehearted environmentalists, who saved the whales, by providing a better, cheaper, more abundant, and safer source of fuel than whale oil." Yes, Tom. Of course. It's as if he know that a fair number of those who will pick up this book are the type of people who regularly donate to organizations like Greenpeace, and he's in the mood to pick a fight.

I don't even want to comment on the epilogue, which reads like a twisted choose-your-own adventure book. One paragraph describes the happily-ever-after existence of a couple you've come to care about through the course of the book, using the present tense, and the next paragraph tells of how one died tragically four years after the whale rescue brought them together. Ick.

While I will, without hesitation, class this among the worst books I've ever read, I will grant that it wasn't a complete waste of time. The book covered minutiae about life in Barrow, AK that you probably won't learn from the movie, and I suppose it doesn't hurt that Rose pulls back the veil and exposes some of the ironies and darker global consequences of the rescue. It's probably worthwhile - some might even find it refreshing - to see a non-sugarcoated take on the tired old animal rescue story. But for me, and most of the (nonjaded) target audience for a book like this, the movie will be much more satisfying.
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message 1: by Becca (new)

Becca sad only one star :p

Andrea I had been shocked over the numerous spelling and syntax errors as well. I agree that it looks like a first draft. Obviously, there was no editor involved. I had thought it looked and felt like a newspaper article before I researched this author and found out he is indeed a newspaper columnist. He was the wrong person to write this book, in my opinion. It was too bad. It also really bothered me that he was not objective in his writing, he clearly has strong opinions and clearly was annoyed he even was present at the event that he must have been forced to cover. I felt like I heard more complaining about the cost of everything and how the press covering the story was taken advantage of, then I heard about the supposedly inspirational story. This book was a complete disappointment to me. i would not recommend it to anyone.

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