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The Abominable: A Novel Hardcover – October 22, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even Jake Perry, the fictional travelogue author Dan Simmons meets in his latest novel, jokes that his reader may not make it through this endless stack of notebooks. But lovers of Simmons&'s blend of alternate history, mystery, and myth will appreciate this three-act thriller set in the interwar years. Young American alpine climber Jake is invited on a recovery mission to find Percival Bromley, a British lord who vanished on Mt. Everest. Much of the novel is devoted to the strategies and techniques of mountain climbing as it was developing in the 1920s, and Jake, his friend Jean-Claude, and team leader Deacon spend a lot of time rubbing elbows and comparing gear with real alpinists of the era. But amid the wash of detail, Simmons plants crucial facts and conjectures about early-20th-century Europe that won&'t pay off until Jake and his party are nearing the top of the world. Can murder and carnage be fully explained by the evil of men? Is a supernatural threat looming over the expedition? As usual, Simmons doesn&'t answer all the questions he&'s raised when the mysteries surrounding the loss of Percy Bromley are resolved, but his fans, like Jake, are sure to enjoy the journey. Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Associates. (Oct.)

From Booklist

Simmons, in this thematic cousin to The Terror (2007), once more plunges into a storm of snow and ice, this time tackling no less than Everest. It’s 1924, and a trio of rogue climbers—mysterious WWI vet Deacon; emotional Frenchman Jean-Claude; and our narrator, brash young American Jacob—are hired to find the corpse of a dignitary lost on Everest. While they’re there, they go for the legendary summit. Right away, there’s a complication: a fourth team member, the dead man’s cousin—and a woman, no less! But it’s the subsequent complications that make this required reading for anyone inspired or terrified by high-altitude acrobatics: sudden avalanches, hidden crevasses, murderous temperatures, mountainside betrayals, and maybe—just maybe—a pack of bloodthirsty yeti. Though the first 200 pages of climbing background might have readers pining for the big climb, it is nearly always interesting, and, later, Simmons excels at those small but full-throated moments of terror when, for example, a single bent screw might mean death for everyone. Exhausting in all the best ways; maybe read this while it’s still warm out? --Daniel Kraus

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st Ed edition (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316198838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316198837
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (225 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Manzikert on February 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I came to this expecting as others clearly did - and which the artwork strongly hints at - something similar to The Terror, a truly brilliant and original historical//horror novel, weaving mysticism, mythology and horror with excellently researched facts of the ill fated 1840s Franklin expedition, in a terrifyingly atmospheric tale of doomed, stranded men being picked off at will by an unseen entity amidst the desolate, frozen wastes of the unforgiving Arctic. Instead, The Abominable turns out nothiing like it; the first 400 pages are an exhaustive and frankly very tedious detailing of mountaineering techniques and methods of the 1920s as our heroes prepare for an Everest challenge to find the lost remains of a previous expedition that went missing. It's not until around p.500 that the action gets going although we are given some early hints of what the threats might be.

Without wanting to spoil the story, you find yourself thrown into a totally implausible political thriller complete with crude, comic book national stereotypes and caricatures: an insanely brave, eccentric Frenchman with silly accent; a stiff upper lip Brit; a beautiful Anglo-Indian heroine; and of course a group of ruthless and brutal pantomime Nazi villains in hot pursuit. Last of all, our insipid narrator, who's character development never gets to Base Camp, and who seems to do very little throughout the book except get sick and become incapacitated as an excuse for the writer to give us endless details of the causes and effects of altitude sickness.
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66 of 75 people found the following review helpful By T. Edmund on October 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In The Abominable Simmons creates an almost believable tale of a young climber Jake Perry. A gentlemen who Simmons claims to have received a manuscript of his adventures and simply 'tidied' it up a little. Of course while the physical and photographic evidence was misplaced, the story itself is intact...

And what a story.

Certainly not for the impatient or time-strapped, Abominable is an extremely slow build. More like classic literature with lengthy descriptions and gradual attachment to the characters, this book is actually pretty charming. The action picks up in Part III and doesn't let go until the slightly rambling post-climatic epilogue.

Present are Simmons' bold, beautiful an brutal prose and imagery. While I heard more about climbing than I ever wanted to know, the author has done brilliantly bringing Everest vividly to life and making the characters fallible and lifelike to the reader

My only criticism of the book is that it is simply too ambitious, between Simmons/Perry's fawning over authorly procedure and Simmons' slightly too elaborate re-write of history it just doesn't work as and attempt to pass off as real.

In summary, this book is not a quick read, and while I enjoyed the journey immensely it is easy to see a casual reading struggling to maintain interest.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful By TopCat19 on December 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Well, this is my second Dan Simmons book, after "The Terror", and I have the same reaction, a good author, a good story, but at the same time, there is something in the story that really bugs me. In this case, it is the length of the book, waaaay too long. I'm not afraid of a long novel, heck, my favorite work of fiction is the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I love long books like Stephen King's The Stand. But so much of this seemed unnecessary. Page after page of a side trip to do a climb to do a test? So much that really didn't add anything to the story. By the end, I was wondering if maybe he was getting paid by the word, which would explain much.
SPOILER ALERT, SORT OF: This story is almost bait and-switch. From the title, the cover art, the synopsis, you are led to believe that the Yeti will play a significant role. Nope, just a cameo appearance, and even then it's just a few paragraphs, and then uncertainty as to whether it was really Yeti or not.
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51 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Bornintime VINE VOICE on November 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've read everything that Dan Simmons has published. Every novel. Every short story collection. Back in the 90's he was one of my favorites. I completely trusted him. You know because many of you felt the same way. And you know what his last few books have been like.

So I started this book with the trepidation that has been increasing almost book to book whenever he publishes lately. I got my copy from the library, laid down on the bed and hoisted this tome onto my chest. It felt like it weighed about 20 lbs. I start reading. And the tedium sets in. I don't care about these characters. I don't care about their climbing adventures, whether they live or die. I don't want to learn about climbing, Dan (sorry, I'm sure you've done months of research as usual). I don't want to slog through 12 more hours to what I am fairly certain will not be a greatly satisfying conclusion.

And then I realize. I'm not in school! I'm not reading this for a course. It's PLEASURE READING. At least it should be. So I close the book and put it down. For good. Now I won't be able to say that I've read everything by Dan Simmons. I'm ok with that; I probably should have done it a couple books ago. I feel lighter already.

My favorite songwriter has a lyric: "Everything that exists in time runs out of time someday."
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