By Dan Simmons
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316198837, October 2013, 672pp.)
The Short of It:
Armchair travelers, rejoice. The Abominable has it all, adventure, mayhem and a little bit of mystery.
The Rest of It:
A group of mountain climbers, hired by Lady Bromley head to Mount Everest in 1925 to find her son who never made it back from his trip to the summit the year before. Jean-Claude, Jake and Richard are hand chosen for their skills but when Regina “Reggie” Bromley-Montfort is foisted upon them as part of the expedition, the men aren’t sure what to think. The summit is not place for a woman and Richard makes his feelings known, but the funding for the trip is dependent upon her inclusion so the men adjust accordingly.
Turns out, Reggie is quite skilled, as is her escort Dr. Pasang. Not to mention her dealings with the Tibetan government which enable them to make the climb in the first place. Grudgingly, the other men accept her, but what they don’t realize is that there is a reason why Lord Percival went missing and when they find out, they are at the top of the summit and it’s too late to turn back.
If you’ve never read Simmons before, you really must. His knack for research and his ability to fictionalize just about anything is what makes me eager to pick-up his books as soon as they come out. He’s an AMAZING storyteller and with this one, I really felt as if I was up there on the summit, using my ice axe and tying off ropes with the best of them. The story is epic and a chunkster at that. At over 650 pages, you are asked to suspend your disbelief for quite a long time, and I did so willingly until the very last pages.
I won’t lie, the title, the blurb and the marketing of the book in general lead the reader to believe that it’s about one thing, but hundreds of pages in you realize that it’s not what you think. After reading another book by him, The Terror, I believed I knew the path this story was taking, but I was way off. At first, this angered the heck out of me. But after finishing the book, I do believe that the path the story took was even more horrifying than what I first expected.
In the end, I ended up liking the book quite a bit. It plucked me right out of reality (what I so badly needed at the time) and took me on an adventure like no other. There is a lot of technical jargon relating to climbing, but having no experience in climbing myself, I had no trouble picking up the terminology.
If you read to escape and like to travel from your armchair every now and then, you’ll appreciate this one. Grab a blanket though because this one left me literally freezing with its sub-zero temps and unpredictable weather. It’s THAT realistic.
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