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The Mosquito Coast [Paperback]

Paul Theroux
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 2006 0618658963 978-0618658961 Reprint
In a breathtaking adventure story, the paranoid and brilliant inventor Allie Fox takes his family to live in the Honduran jungle, determined to build a civilization better than the one they've left. Fleeing from an America he sees as mired in materialism and conformity, he hopes to rediscover a purer life. But his utopian experiment takes a dark turn when his obsessions lead the family toward unimaginable danger.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

PAUL THEROUX's highly acclaimed novels include Blinding Light, Hotel Honolulu, My Other Life, Kowloon Tong, and The Mosquito Coast. His travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Dark Star Safari, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, and The Happy Isles of Oceania. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618658963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618658961
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Theroux's highly acclaimed novels include Blinding Light, Hotel Honolulu, My Other Life, Kowloon Tong, and The Mosquito Coast. His renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Dark Star Safari, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, and The Happy Isles of Oceania. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hubris in a jungle hell December 15, 1999
Paul Theroux never repeats himself and what he chooses to present in each book is quaranteed to surprise anyone who has read any of his other books. In this novel, part travelogue/adventure and part American social critique, the chief character is one of the most fascinating and least likeable figures I have encountered in recent fiction. An American genius with no patience for the opinions of anyone else and a hatred for most of modern life, determines to take his family into the jungles of South America, where he sees himself becoming something of a saviour to the natives - bringing them a few simple forms of technology that will uplift and transform their lives. Instead, he plunges himself and his family into a hell of conflicts that he doesn't even try to understand.
The story, told from the point of view of his initially adoring (and fearful) son, follows the decline in the family's fortunes until it is clear that it is the father himself who is their real enemy. A tragic and deeply moving tale, this book stays in the mind - not always pleasantly - long after it has been read.
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128 of 134 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For Kindle buyers September 5, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I won't comment on the book itself for many have done that already but I want to give feedback to those Kindle users who may consider buying the e-book.

Obviously like so many, the book was scanned to obtain its digital format. Ostensibly there was no proofreading done after that which considering the many "typos" and transposed characters in words is inexcusable. EX: The capital letter I is often the number 1, The ship's name alternates between Unicorn and Unicom, the list goes on. Now this wouldn't be as big a deal if the writer hadn't written the dialect of some of the characters. EX: experiment=spearmint so as you read along you are baffled by a sentence sometimes which stops you in your tracks while you try to figure out what the author really meant and sometimes you wonder of the dialect is a typo etc. All and all a good book but just wanted to warn those Kindle users who might become a bit irritated by it and would prefer to buy the hard print.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Character Study December 14, 2003
Paul Theroux's novels generally feature carefully etched characters, but he surpasses himself with Allie Fox, the protagonist of the Mosquito Coast. Allie is a husband and father of four, but he seems to care far more about his "inventions" and radical social ideas than he does about their welfare. To act out his ideals, he moves his family to Central America to start a utopian society, unencumbered by traditional materialism. Some of his contraptions work and the community begins to flourish, until his plans become grandiose. Although the reader can see the tragedy that is to come, Theroux constructs an intriguing plot that keeps the reader drawn into the novel.
Some readers may be greatly off-put by Allie and his behavior; however, he is undeniably a magnetic and fascinating force. Fortunately, the book is narrated from the point-of-view of the teenaged son, Charlie, which allows the reader some distance from the sometimes repugnant Allie. Other readers may be disappointed by Allie's wife. She plays a relatively small role in the proceedings, and she seems to blindly go along with Allie, even when she suspects detrimental effects on her family. However, a man like Allie probably would be married to such a woman, as he likes to be in charge and assert himself on others strongly.
Overall, the Mosquito Coast is a one-of-a-kind literary experience, with a fantastic main character embedded in a rollicking-good story. Most highly recommended.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inimitable Novel May 16, 2000
By A Customer
I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a novel with unique characters and an unpredictable plot. This story is told from the point of view of Charlie Fox, son of Allie Fox. Allie is a selfish man who is fed up with American society. He improves upon the "imperfections" of the world with his ingenious inventions. He moves his family to the South American jungle to escape the defective society and create a suitable town of his own. Charlie relates his father's actions through admiring eyes at first, but he soon sees the flaws in his father's civilization. The family suffers many losses and eventually realizes that Allie is not saving them from a faulty society, but he is squelching them from thriving. This is a very well written, detailed novel that has a great deal of suspense. While the story is unique, all can relate to the feelings and thoughts of the characters in this exciting, thought-provoking novel.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the dark side of self-reliance December 3, 1999
_The Mosquito Coast_ manages to be both a great story and a moving critique of good old-fashioned American self-reliance. Allie, the practical yet passionate father, leads his family into the jungles on a mad quest: he wants to strike out on his own, survive by his ingenuity. and leave behind the mindless consumerism of mainstream life.
I thought all these things were virtues before I picked up this book. What Theroux shows is that there is a human cost to genius--Allie's quest to perfect his work leads him to destroy everyone and everything around him. Self-reliance and authenticity sometimes are not compatible with kindness, happiness and humaneness.
A tremendously well-crafted, marvelous book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Popular Book from the 1980's
This is a popular book from the early 1980's that I never got around to reading until now. It's the first book by Paul Theroux that I've read. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Clif
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the West Coast, Mosquito Coast is the Best Coast!!
Unreal story, characters, plot twists and what an ending! Another marvel from Paul Theroux! Clearly one of best fiction novels
Published 24 days ago by Til
3.0 out of 5 stars Considerable food for thought
In the Mosquito Coast, a headstrong father uproots his home-schooled children and his wife from New England, without notice, and takes them to live in the wilds of Honduras. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Regina M. Joseph
5.0 out of 5 stars Vaguely remember the movie from years ago; so glad I went back to read...
Moving. Disturbing. Relevant to today's world. I read some of Theroux's nonfiction and enjoyed it but almost wasn't prepared for the impact of Mosquito Coast. Read more
Published 1 month ago by David P. Bishop
1.0 out of 5 stars Mosquito Coast tedious and slow moving.
The story could be interesting but it is overwhelmed by a tediously slow pace and reminds me of a rewrite of Life With Father. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Craig Melter
3.0 out of 5 stars So-so
Parts of this book were very good, but it very much reads as a manuscript that was stretched to the max. Read more
Published 4 months ago by bigboppar
4.0 out of 5 stars While at times depressing the story is not without a compelling and...
There are a few glitches in the digital version caused by imperfections of OCR conversion. Hopefully comments by readers input will lead to clearing them up. Read more
Published 5 months ago by H. Stephen Patton
5.0 out of 5 stars Great character development
After reading the book, I could not wait to watch the 80's movie and found the director pretty much kept to the story line. The entire family enjoyed the movie.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior writing
I was pleasantly surprised by this piece of fiction. The writing is very accessible and the characters finely drawn, and I felt it really captured the experience of living with a... Read more
Published 6 months ago by E.J. Kaye
3.0 out of 5 stars Huckleberry Finn Redux
With its naive adolescent narrator and "back to nature" adventure story, this novel is derivative of the fictional genre that began with Mark Twain. Read more
Published 7 months ago by A Customer
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