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The Mosquito Coast

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  11,709 ratings  ·  892 reviews
In a breathtaking adventure story, the paranoid and brilliant inventor Allie Fox takes his family to live in the Honduran jungle, determined to build a civilization better than the one they've left. Fleeing from an America he sees as mired in materialism and conformity, he hopes to rediscover a purer life. But his utopian experiment takes a dark turn when his obsessions le ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Mariner Books (first published 1981)
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Jeff B. To me the whole book is a character study on the father. I describe him in my review as "one part Henry David Thoreau, one part Thomas Edison, and one…moreTo me the whole book is a character study on the father. I describe him in my review as "one part Henry David Thoreau, one part Thomas Edison, and one part your average libertarian Ayn Rand-reading MAGA guy. He's brilliant but also a total jerk."(less)
Sinéad No it's not. The author wrote several travel books but this was fiction.…moreNo it's not. The author wrote several travel books but this was fiction.(less)

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Average rating 3.82  · 
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Joe Valdez
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
My introduction to the fiction of Paul Theroux is The Mosquito Coast and readers in search of the Great American Novel would be hard pressed to find a more thrilling definition of the term. Not that there haven't been novels of high literary merit set in mundane locations, but the Great American Novel takes its characters on a great journey--physically, spiritually, often both--and says something definitive about the U.S.A. in the era in which it is set. Published in 1982, this novel achieves th ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
An overzealous father uproots his family in the middle of the night to leave America, with only their clothes on their back, to journey to the deep jungles of Honduras. Here he has grandiose hopes to build a radical new civilization in which he is the leader of. Although a brilliant inventor, he is both paranoid and manic and the journey that transpires is both disastrous and dangerous, putting his family at risk. The story is taken from the perspective of his eldest son, Charlie, who throughout ...more
Andrew Smith
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s a hard book to categorise, this one: coming-of-age yarn, adventure story, literary fiction? Well, in truth, all of the above. I’d read one of the author’s renowned travel books (which I thoroughly enjoyed) but this was my first experience of his fiction. And a pretty good experience it turned out to be.

Allie Fox is an engineer, an inventor and a bombastic know-it-all. Fed up with America – it’s fast food, television, religion and pretty much everything else – he surprises his family one day
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Sometimes you just have to say, this is not the book for me. I could plow through it for the sake of my book club, but why put myself through 3 or 4 hours of angst and misery, reading about a wildly dysfunctional family trying to create their own utopia in the jungles of the Honduras?

In an intellectual way I appreciate that the father, Allie Fox, is an amazing character, but he's just painful for me to read about. It was like fingernails on a chalkboard. He pursues one scheme after another, with
I am shocked that Paul Theroux has written such a book. I am shocked that he wanted to have it published with him as its author. I read it to the very end. I thought there had to be something good here, something I was missing, but no, it gets worse and worse as you go. Don’t even consider reading this. Phew, I am so glad it is over!

The story is set in the late 70s, early 80s. The central protagonist is an American going by the name of Allie Fox. He is married, has a son of thirteen years, a yo
Dec 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
I do research in spoken language technology, building software that people can talk to. Right now, our main project is an app that lets beginning language students practice their speaking skills; if you're interested, you can find out more here. We have been working on it for about three and half years, and so far we don't really know if it's a good idea or not. We get mixed messages from the people who have tried it out. Some of them are enthusiastic and say it's really improved their French or ...more
Mar 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Theroux understands fathers and sons like few authors I have read, but I still struggle with Allie Fox's descent into madness. Part of me feels that we are supposed to struggle with his descent, to feel pity and empathy for him, but part of me feels that I am expected to feel anger and hate towards him -- things I do not and can not.

Whether this is the failure of the author or the reader is beyond me, but it is enough to drop this book out of my true favorites (and it was one of my favouri

Hell is - the other people .

But really ?
When everything’s going wrong one may like Zorba tell that’s nothing to worry about or like Scarlett I’ll think of it tomorrow or jack everything in and set off to look for promise land. And so Allie does.

Allie Fox, handyman and gifted inventor, disappointed with America, disgusted with consumer, corporate or whatsoever lifestyle, out of the blue packs his family and set off to Honduran jungle.

But let’s not be mislead by this idyllic picture. Neither Ame
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
The Mosquito Coast - otherwise known as my backyard in July *ba-dum ching*

I picked this up after seeing the preview for the new Apple TV series. (I also vaguely recall it being a film when I was a kid, but I don’t think I ever watched it.) “Inspired by” the book might have been a better way to describe the reality of what I read compared to my expectations regarding the story based on the commercial. Liberties were definitely taken in an attempt to turn this into a thriller rather than just bei
Lyn Fuchs
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Setting off on a big international trip, I asked an eighty-year-old man with the reputation of being a wise counselor for his input on my destination options. I was obsessing over this decision. He responded, "The place doesn't matter, because wherever you go, there you'll be." He was hinting at the annoying truth that my character, not places or circumstances, was hindering my spiritual journey. He was absolutely right.

Paul Theroux wrote a classic book on heading for parts remote with spiritual
Patrick Gibson
It’s not the craziness and hypocrisy of American evangelical Christians and other nuts building utopias, or realizing their personal dreams among the ignorant and poor peoples of the under-developed world, but writing descriptions of rare sights:

"It sank [an outboard engine:] into the weeds and began bleeding rainbows."

of nature:

"The howler monkeys were drumming in the thunder rumble across the black lagoon, and the rains boom and crackle made a deep cave of the earth and filled the sky with
Christine Boyer
Aug 27, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I'm quitting. So keep that in mind with regard to my 1 star rating. I got half way through and this was the last section I read: "Then the darkness, which was like fathoms of ink, softened, became finely gray, and, without revealing anything more of the sea, turned to powder. All around us the powdery dawn thickened, until, growing coarser and ashy, in a sunrise without sun, it threw us glimpses of the soapy sea and the shoreline and the jungle heaped like black rags of kelp." OMG! I can't ...more
Dec 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was wholly taken with this book. Theroux weaves a gripping and harrowing tale that is at once a coming of age story, an adventure piece, and a possibly unmatched character study in the brilliant and paranoid Allie Fox. Told through the maturing eyes of his teenage son, the reader is made to feel like a dependent, ever anxious to anticipate shame or endorsement. The author's writing style brings to life both a unique literary figure and the perfect environment for his tale to thrive.

And what an
Clif Hostetler
Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This is a popular book from the early 1980's that I never got around to reading until now. It's the first book by Paul Theroux that I've read. It's my understanding that he first became famous for his travelogue "The Great Railway Bazaar (1975)." He's written a number of novels since and most (maybe all) are fictionalized travelogues by having their characters end up in some exotic and isolated corner of the world. That's certainly the case with this book.

This story evolves around a man who is
Daniel Villines
Sep 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
The Mosquito Coast is a novel that challenges the reader’s perception of heroism. It asserts that heroism may start with physical acts of bravery and visionary promises of greatness. The book then slowly transitions over the span of its pages. The hero’s moral character is degraded act-by-act and false hope is inserted to fill the void each and every time. The question that Theroux challenges his readers to answer at any given point along the way is do you still believe?

In this way, The Mosquito
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing

Re-reading . . . how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love the guaranteed happiness (how often does one get that?); I love meeting old friends and familiar enemies; and oh, how I love the anticipation of coloring in the faintly remembered.

Truly-addicted readers have books to which they repeatedly return; we become so entranced by an author’s words we even hope (in bouts of the truest example of suspension of disbelief) that perhaps this time, if we read very slowly, or very carefully, o
May 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Astonishing, overwhelming, breathtaking...!!!
This is one of the most marvellous and extraordinary books I have ever set my eyes upon.

There is so much to be said about it, that I feel a savage myself for not being able to articulate the exact words and feelings. Wonderful, full of humor, nightmarish, fantastic and extremely frightening... the power of Paul Theroux's imagination as well as his absolute mastery with exploring and manipulating the human character is enormous.

This book is a pure g
Elyse Walters
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Read this book years ago! (Before being a member of Goodreads) Fabulous!

A friend sent it to be 'to read'! I AGREE!
Yigal Zur
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
not the best of Theroux. let him stick to travel
Jul 24, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: susans-book
I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I loved the story itself and was surprised by the ending. I was not a fan of the storytelling.
Bram De Vriese
Jul 31, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book to read when you are on a holiday. It's a great story told in a very tangible colourful way which makes you read on and on. ...more
Jason Pierce
Jun 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, coming-of-age
Life lesson:

When you let a friend borrow a book, be sure to stress "borrow." Borrow. BORROW, God dammit! Especially when your usual book arrangement with the fellow is letting him have the ones you want to get rid of since he takes them to the library/goodwill once he finishes them or doesn't want them. I know for a fact I said "borrow," but I didn't stress it. I also realize it was a rushed conversation and we were going over some other cat-sitting stuff at the same time. This crossed my mind a
Chris Gager
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This will be my third or fourth Paul Theroux read, plus short stories in The New Yorker. I wouldn't be reading it if I didn't like his writing(duh ...). I first heard of this book when the movie came out. Didn't see it, but it helps to imagine Harrison Ford embodying Allie Fox, world's biggest a-hole. I tried to think of anyone I'd ever met who was so thoroughly and obviously narcissistic, but couldn't. Allie's like that guy/stranger in a bar that overhears your conversation and busts in with so ...more
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Part adventure story, part comedy, part travelogue, part horror story. This is a gritty YA novel written for adults. Google Maps just won't help you finding your way here in this jungle world of divine retribution against the man who dares to change nature and ultimately pays for his blasphemy. It's a three-part chronicle of the gradual descent into murder and madness by a man of great intelligence, individuality, photographic memory and deeply analytical genius. That descent would be even more ...more
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Allie Fox is a genius, a fool, a loving father, a madman, a dreamer, and a selfish SOB. He is sort of Don Quixote's evil twin. Both Don Quixote and Allie Fox pursued noble dreams but Quizote didn't imperil his entire family in doing so. But it isn't just the character of Allie Fox that makes The Mosquito Coast such a riveting and brilliant novel. It is the interaction with his his family as they struggle to understand this brilliant but insane man. The book reads like an adventure; an adventure ...more
Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Funny, funny book.

Well, that was my review the first time I read it. Now, after a reread some 20 years later, I wonder why I didn't pick up on what was really going on with the father. This time it was clear to me, and gave the book, despite its comedic moments, a sense of ever-increasing dread.
Mar 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Wolfley
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent book about the dangers of monomania and pride. Allie Fox is basically Captain Ahab reborn as an inventor with a real bone to pick with American society and culture. This was an incredibly engaging book and would be a good read for both those looking to think and those looking to be entertained.

I always tell my wife that I want to sell everything and move to Australia, raise sheep, and live the simple life. This novel made me reconsider my dream. In America we love to romanticize the s
May 08, 2009 added it
Shelves: didnt-finish
Although I agree with some of the views of the protagonist's father, I find the character so obnoxious that I don't even know if I can read any more. ...more
Becca Noggle
Jun 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
I read this because I saw the show come out on apple tv with Justin Theroux and was not impressed. Hoping the show is more exciting than the book, this was slooooow going.
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Paul Edward Theroux is an American travel writer and novelist, whose best known work is The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), a travelogue about a trip he made by train from Great Britain through Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, through South Asia, then South-East Asia, up through East Asia, as far east as Japan, and then back across Russia to his point of origin. Although perhaps best know ...more

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“One of the sicknesses of the twentieth century? I'll tell you the worst one. People can't stand to be alone. Can't tolerate it! So they go to the movies, get drive-in hamburgers, put their home telephone numbers in the crapsheets and say 'Please call me up!' It's sick. People hate their own company --- they cry when they see themselves in mirrors. It scares them, the way their faces look. Maybe that's a clue to the whole thing...” 6 likes
“The world is plain rotten. People are mean, they're cruel, they're fake, they always pretend to be something their not. They're weak. They take advantage. A cruddy little man who sees God in a snake, or the devil in thunder, will take you prisoner if he gets the drop on you. Give anyone half a chance and he'll make you a slave; he'll tell you the most awful lies. I've seen them, running around bollocky, playing God. And our friends... they'll be lonely out there. They'll be scared. Because the world stinks.” 3 likes
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