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The Abominable Paperback – 14 January 2014
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Dan Simmons is a giant among novelists ― Lincoln Child
The Abominable by the talented Dan Simmons is a sprawling high-concept novel that synthesises historical fact and very modern pulse-raising adventure set on the slopes of Mount Everest in the 1920s, with tangled but subtly well-ordered plots . . . The Abominable may be his most impressive book to date ― Good Book Guide
His last 'cold' book, The Terror, was terrific. This appears to have sprung out of that and is cleverly presented as if true. It's a wonderful, chilling tale of an Everest expedition just after Mallory vanished . . . It is stunning ― The Bookseller
Set aside a few days to read this book that will enlighten and reward you with a story of heroism and decency in the face of appalling cruelty. A story of such emotional resonance it will still be with you long after you turn the final page. It will feel as though you are saying goodbye to friends you have grown to love and respect. It is amongst the best of books ― Forbidden Planet
- Publisher : Sphere; 1st edition (14 January 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 736 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0751548707
- ISBN-13 : 978-0751548709
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 4 x 19.5 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 97,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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What particularly grated on me was the stiff, unrealistic dialog that sounded like a historian giving a lecture, not a conversation between friends. For example, here's one character talking to his friend about what sort of gun had fired a bullet they'd found.
"Eight millimeter", whispered the Deacon. "Popular with the Austrians and Hungarians in pistols designed before the war by Karel Krnka and Georg Roth. The most common pistol - first used by the Austro-Hungarian cavalry, later produced by the Germans for infanty officers - was the Roth Steyr M. nineteen oh-seven semiautomatic pistol".
Really?! I'm pretty sure that "An eight millimeter semiautomatic pistol" would have sufficed if Simmons wasn't so intent on showing off his research.
Give it a miss unless you're fascinated by the early climbing attempts of Everest.
One of the usual strengths of Simmons are his characters and their dialogue. In this outing we are treated to stereotypes and banalities. Gone overall is the usual suspense, intrigue and mystery. It seemed like reading a manual more than a novel. At many points it felt like it came from a different author. I hope Simmons returns to form.
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The blurb: As the winds rise and the temperature and oxygen levels drop, Deacon and his companions hear howls in the distance. Some dark creature is tracking them up the mountain, sending them scrabbling blindly into Everest's dangerous heights to escape it.
The reality: America saves the wimpy Brits from assured destruction in WWII years before the war even starts by obtaining evidence that Hitler is a pedophile. Yes, you read that right. No dark creature at all, but plenty of racist stereotypes and a farcical dinner party at which the narrator is amused by a near falling-out between Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin, but takes an unpleasantly homophobic disliking to Lawrence of Arabia. The first 488 pages concern nothing but mountain-climbing and are fine (two stars for these). From then on it's Famous Five and Scooby Doo all the way. Don't bother.
- Called 'The Abominable.'
- Set on Everest and the blurb includes the line: A dark creature is tracking them up the mountain, sending them scrabbling blindly into Everest's dangerous heights to escape it.
Anyway, guess what the book isn't about?
I feel seriously cheated because I was not sold the story I was set up to want. It's cool to subvert genre expectations, but to sell a monster story and then supply an espionage novel is not the same as subverting genre elements. This kind of cheap, smoke and mirrors misdirection serves only to frustrate readers.
It's a shame, because I would have enjoyed the novel if it were the story I was expecting, but ultimately I'm left disappointed.
As others have said, the description blurb has no link whatsoever to the actual contents of the book. If you've read The Terror and think this will be the same sort of thing, you're going to be disappointed in that respect. Towards the end of the book the titles link to the plot does at least become apparent.
If you have any interest in mountains and mountain climbing (even as just an armchair enthusiast as I am), then the detail and descriptions in the book will hold you, and with it is, in fact, a really good plot. Sure, the author has taken liberties with the reality of climbing and chatting at 8000m, but then the plot has to move forward. The tie in to real history, as with The Terror, is excellent. Certainly I finished it wondering "what if ...".
My only issue would be all the heights being listed in feet, which obviously links with the period, but means nothing to me!