Hey everyone, letting you all know that this book review has spoilers. This is another book where I feel I must include spoilers, because this book falsely advertised to its audience what this book is about. And I feel a lot of readers will be disappointed or even angry when the book explains what is really going on. So if you want to go into this book blind, then feel free to skip this review.
The Abominable by Dan Simmons
For a while now, I’ve heard these words. “If you really like Michael Crichton, you’ll love Dan Simmons.” And I really do love Michael Crichton. So I did give him a try and read the Terror. And The Terror, while it was a long winded disappointing train wreck, it had its good parts. I could see why this author is so beloved. He has a good writing style. His action scenes are amazing. He cares about realism. He has everything right writing wise, but the story itself was just bad. But every author writes a dud sometime in their career. So I decided to give him another try. This time around it’s on a book called The Abominable.
So what is The Abominable about? It’s about three rock climbers from different parts of the word. Jake the America, Jean-Claude from France and Decon from Great Britain. They climb a mountain one summer as strangers at the beginning and are best of friends at the summit. Not ready to all go their separate ways, they plan their next great climb. Mount Everest. Something in their time, 1923, is the impossible. And they go through with it. They have to pull some strings, ask a few favors, and agree to look for the body of a Lord Bromley along the way to get the funding necessary. But once they are on their way things will it be more difficult than anyone ever expected and they are going to run into something scarier than they imagined.
So the good and bad? Let’s start with the good. These characters are likable. The biggest issue I had with the Terror was that it focused on member of his Royal Navy and I could not tolerate their snootiness. I really could not get connected them at all. But here I instantly connected with these three. Also rock climbing is an interesting topic on its own. Well at least it is for me. It was fascinating to see how the climbers reached the summit of mountains. And the theme of friendship is strong and feel for this bunch.
The bad? Like the other Dan Simmons book I read, this is also long winded, yet unlike the other this is focused. But still the length would be off putting to some. There are also things about the time period people may find insulting or offensive. These three travel to India which was part of the British Empire at the time. So having Indian slaves work in the fields and personal man servants is a norm. And the characters in the lead treat it as such as though there is no injustice at all. And to be fair in 1923, when three white men traveled to India that's probably how things would be. It was part of that time and culture of colonialism. None of it was right, but it was how things were. So if you’re offended by history accuracy, this might not be for you. Sexism is addressed as well with a woman who ends up joining their crew. Oddly enough, this is a much more progressive portrayal than the Indian Culture.
But the huge issue with this story is not about an of that. And many people hate it for this. The book does false advertising. It’s called The Abominable and the cover has a bloody mountainside. Early in the book, rumors of the Yeti and bad spirits are swirling the mountain. But there is no Yeti. In the last 150 pages Nazis show up out of nowhere with full intend to kill them. They soon learn why. A spy died somewhere on the mountain and has photos of a German Officer performing homosexual acts. What our lead characters dubbed, "The Abominable." It’s such an out of nowhere left turn that disappoints the audience.Its almost like a big joke only the author would get. Like he was trolling his readers. It’s very disappointing. I’m beginning to wonder if Dan Simmons knows how to properly end books as well. The Terror has a bizarre somewhat insulting ending as well. Then there is very little action. Mostly it’s the thrill of mountain climbing. And though it is exciting for a while. It becomes routines after 200 pages. It is mostly them climbing the mountains and nothing else until the very end and that is a bait and switch no one wanted. And the twist doesn’t even make sense the more you think about it when you incorporate the spy nonsense. They literally say one thing to explain why Jake was brought along, but it doesn’t line up with earlier chapters.
Overall, this book was disappointing but okay. I mean when everyone went their separate ways at end of this journey I would be lying if I said I didn’t get choked up. At the end of the day the beating heart of the story was not a yeti, or Nazis or adventure. It was the friendship. This allowed the last chapter to be a powerful capstone on such a strange book. So sure there’s no horror, no yeti, it’s long winded and has little action, but I would not call it a bad book. It’s not an awful train wreck like The Terror. Its advertising campaign just fooled the readers a little too well. And if you’re prepared for what actually happens you may have more fun. I say it’s worth a read if you know what you’re getting into.
Overall Rating: There is No Yeti
3 1/2 Smoothies out of Five