54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2003
I would read Christopher Moore based on the titles of his works alone. He has written fantastically odd and fun books for years, including ISLAND OF THE SEQUINED LOVE NUN, THE LUST LIZARD OF MELANCHOLY COVE, and LAMB: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO BIFF, CHRIST'S CHILDHOOD PAL (which, in my estimation, is his best, most bedazzlingly kooky book yet). Once I get past the title page of a Christopher Moore book, I'm never disappointed. He always delivers the goods (the goods being odd characters, odd settings, and odd happenings). The latest Moore delivery is FLUKE: OR I KNOW WHY THE WINGED WHALE SINGS, and he will not disappoint fans.
The odd characters include marine biologist Nathan Quinn, a lifelong researcher of the humpback whale and their song; Clay Demodocus, his associate; beautiful research assistant Amy Earhart; and Rastaman, Kona, a white boy from New Jersey. The settings, which are varied, include Maui, a giant whale ship and "Gootown." The odd happenings are too numerous to mention. There's some discussion of a whale calling a benefactor by telephone asking for a hot pastrami and Swiss on rye. There's an escape from an amorous Samoan. There's a situation involving a super-race of piscatorial mutants. And there's that one whale that had written on its tail "BITE ME."
Of course, the book is not too thick with such heavy topics as the meaning of life and love. There is, however, some discussion about Canadian hockey violence. Moore won't give you long theories about the nature of man or the political implications of the Middle East. He will, however, give us some interesting cetacean sex, which is always titillating. It's a breeze to read. The reader will sit in a hammock, a drink by their side (with an umbrella in it), and happily read along chuckling mightily (hopefully not spilling said umbrella-laden drink).
The one thing that Moore does well (on top of his writing antics) is the research he puts into his books. He knows about whales and cares about them (so much so, in fact, that at the end of the book he highlights ways in which the reader can help out with and address conservation issues). Just as in LAMB, where he studied mightily about the world in Jesus's time, Moore finds many interesting nuggets about whales, the ocean, and the like.
If you want Norman Mailer or Leon Uris, you've come to the wrong place. But if you're in the mood for a quick laugh (along the lines of Tom Robbins, Dave Barry and their ilk) and a fun book to read on a sunny weekend, FLUKE is the way to go. Both the book and Moore are funny --- and there's no fluke about that.
--- Reviewed by Jonathan Shipley
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Christopher Moore's brand of humor, while always irreverent and sometimes off-color, also bursts through the constraints which might limit it to the real world. Moore has often explored other realities, and in this novel, we discover the underwater world of singing whales and the researchers who study them. Far more "straight" and less frivolous than in most of his earlier novels, Moore is clearly fascinated by cetacean biology and the research on which he focuses here.
Nate Quinn is a PhD. researcher who studies the subsonic songs of humpback whales and works the channel between Maui and Lanai, identifying and following individual whales, recording whale songs, and converting the songs into digitized computer programs in an effort to decode them. Three other researchers and numerous other wacky characters, allow the author plenty of room for hijinx at the same time that he is exploring serious issues. An old woman gets a phone call from a whale wanting a hot pastrami on rye with mustard, a researcher remains underwater for sixty minutes without breathing, an absolute ruler wants the navy to "nuke the goo," and mutants who look like aliens, known as whaley-boys, walk the land.
As Moore shifts from science to science fiction, the line between reality and fantasy disappears. The reader willingly suspends all disbelief and succumbs to the spell of Moore's non-stop flights of imagination as he explores underwater life. His famous sense of the absurd, his irony, and his humor, some of it black, never flag, and his imagination, given free rein, soars in this wild fantasy.
However playful it may be, this novel also marks a significant new direction for Moore. He is clearly fascinated by whales and the threats to their existence, and while the book is great fun and often very funny, it also has something serious and important at its heart--it is not frivolous entertainment. In an unprecedented move, Moore adds three separate Author's Notes at the end of the book, updating the reader on current whale research and acknowledging some of the world's great whale researchers. Readers will come away from this novel with broad smiles, a new appreciation for Moore's talents and his willingness to take risks, and, most significantly, new understandings of whales and the ecosystem in which they flourish. Mary Whipple
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2004
This is a readable, generally entertaining book. The funny bits - and there are a lot of them - are really funny. But about half way - maybe a little more - he goes from pleasantly wierd to a complete abondenment of any sense of believability. It was a bit like he'd started writing the book, came up with a couple of good gags, found himself in a spot he couldn't think of a way to get out of, and just started randomly inserting impossibilities to make the pieces stick together. The impossibilities bring out the paper thin personalities of the characters, and for me, it sort of unraveled from there. In some ways, the character development of the central characters is summed up on page one. Nate is a researcher, good hearted, obsessed with whales. Amy is young, hot and looks good in shorts. Things happen around these people, we get revelations about their past, but that's about it - the revelations don't lead to any better understanding. For me its unsatisfying - neither the story nor the characters nor the humor really grips.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2005
This time out, Moore's heros are down-at-the-heels academic researchers in Hawaii, tracking the lives of whales. One day a whale flips them a kind of whale-y bird - on his uplifted tail as he departs our team reads the words "BITE ME" on his tail.
The reason for this, it turns out, has to be read to be believed. I will only say that a good number of characters live in an underground alternative universe, are the joint progeny of humans and whales, and have prehensile....well you'll have to read it to find out just which body parts qualify.
Moore has a harder task before him in "Fluke" than he does when he parodies well-known genres of horror (Godzilla in "Lust Lizard" or vampires in "Bloodsucking Fiends"), but he does an excellent job skewering academia and as always he's vastly entertaining to read. A great antidote to whatever's making you feel solemn.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2004
I am a huge fan of Christopher Moore. I bought this book went it came out and was saving it for a gray day. I have been looking forward to reading it for month. I finally picked it up last weekend. What a huge disappointment it was!
This story drags along, there's no action, it's not very funny...it's the exact opposite of all of Moore's other books: It's boring..
Christopher Moore is a really wonderful author, if you have never read a book by him, please! pick any of the others and I guarantee you will enjoy yourself immensely.
I am, none the less, looking forward to his next book! I hope Mister Moore will have found his voice back!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2005
This was my first of Moore's books. I just happened to pick it up at my local bookstore and read the back of the book and laughed outloud at the premise. I read the first couple of chapters at the store and had to buy it to see what would occur with these wonderful characters. The characters are well thought out, very personable and with such interesting dialogue you feel like you are a fly on the wall in the book. I sped through the first half of the book laughing and enjoying myself immensely, and then BOOM...it became a sci-fi book before my eyes. The dialogue was not nearly as quick and the story became positively dull at times, so much so that I shamefully admit to skimming the last 100 pages of the book just to finish it up and praying for a return to what I had enjoyed. This book hasn't made me not want to read other Moore books, but next time around I will probably check them out from my local library to save a couple of bucks.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2003
So let me preface this with this: I try and squeeze in reading when I can, and whenever you read in public, someone is always bound to ask "Hey, whatcha reading?" In this case, I honestly had no idea where to begin. "It's a book about humanoid whaley boys and what they can do with their prehensile members!" Security is called and I am promptly asked to go enjoy my book elsewhere. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and I believe it's Moore's most creative work to date. I always enjoy his characters, so not much difference there. I was actually worried about Fluke, thinking "How is whale research going to translate into a Moore story?" At first, I was sure that it would be nice, but Lamb would still be my favorite, but after finishing it, I'm not quite so sure. As mentioned by another reviewer, almost all of his books stand out in some way or another as a favorite. For fans of Lamb and other Moore works, you won't be disappointed. Meep!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2004
I agree with C. Grove's review. This book started out great. In fact, all through the first half I heartily recommended this book to a whale- and Hawaii-loving friend at work. I loved Moore's humor, his language, and his descriptions of the characters, especially Kona. I enjoyed the science and the mysterious elements. Then, the book took a 180 degree turn and dove past quirky into "what are you smokin', mon?", with "whaley boys", "Goo", and a strange preoccupation with whale "willies". By the time I forced myself to finish the book, I was hoping it was all some pot-induced dream Kona was having, and nothing in the second half ever happened. This was my first Moore book, and it's left me in doubt about whether to even try the other one I bought at the same time.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Having been a recent Christopher Moore fan, I've pretty much devoured everything he's written (Coyote Blue, Island of the Sequinned Love Nun, etc.) and found his comedic style to be light, breezy and a sheer joy to read. Many have compared Mr. Moore to the late, great Douglas Adams (of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame) and I think this is a fair comparison. If you like Adams' style, you're sure to enjoy Moore's.
Fluke is a departure for Mr. Moore from his previous novels. He's done research for the others, but that research was always used to further the laughs you were sure to enjoy in his books. But here, Mr. Moore tended to plug whale research (a worthy cause, no doubt!) and the scouring of our ocean environments, and the comedy . . . well . . . got lost a bit. Even in the afterword to the book, Mr. Moore tells us about the extensive research he did in putting this book together. Interesting, but it's not WHY readers have been drawn to his stories.
But let's get into the book. As stated above, this story focuses on whales. Particularly the Humpbacks around Hawaii. Nathan Quinn and a band of scientists (with the recent addition of a truly memorable pothead character named Kona) are trying to find out why the whales sing. And why it is ONLY the males that sing. What does the song mean? This is Mr. Quinn's life work.
. . . And Mr. Quinn and his fellow scientists are about to make a hilarious and startling discovery. They soon learn WHY the whales sing (I'm not going to tell you why. You've got to read it to find out). The interactions between the characters is what sets this story apart. That and the story about the giant whale penises mixing with a zodiac inflatable boat!
Is it possible that the ocean is a giant living . . . uh, thing? Or Goo? Is it possible that whales are more
intelligent 'internally' than we could have ever imagined? Is it possible to fall in love with a nonhuman sea creature? Whoa!
A good read. Not great. Not Moore's greatest by a looong shot. But still a lot better than some of the junk that's out there on the shelves. I'm glad I read it.
A solid 'B' rating.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2005
I have to admit that I couldn't put it down (which is worth the three stars), but how anyone could rate this 5 stars is a mystery to me. After a fairly intelligent and interesting beginning, the story turns into a children's sci-fi thriller with silly creatures, an cartoonish villain, a "god" made of goo, and lots of references to penises, human and otherwise. I had a pretty good time reading it, but I finished it feeling unsatisfied. It was just a bit too silly.