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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 - neither his best nor his worst
I approached this book with trepidation. I loved most of Simmons' ground-breaking early and mid-career work (Hyperion, Illium) and really enjoyed the slow burn of The Terror, but I was bored by Drood, and hated the constant political intrusion of Flashback. Where would this book fit in?

Well, it's in between. It's got some tension, although not as much as The...
Published 3 months ago by A-Canadian-in-London

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Novel of Peaks and Troughs... but Mostly Troughs
The Abominable is a novel of peaks and troughs, unfortunately more troughs than peaks. To start with, the blurb on the back is very misleading, hinting at a supernatural thriller instead of a book anchored solely in the art and lore of high-altitude climbing. Yetis are hinted at in the book very briefly, yet they never appear despite the hints offered by the blurb, cover...
Published 6 months ago by Honest Chap's Reviews


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an interesting and fast paced read, 22 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Abominable (Kindle Edition)
A good book, which when totally immersed in, draws you into the story. Maybe tails off a bit towards the end but by then you are hooked
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story so make sure you have plenty of free time once you have started on it ..., 10 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Abominable (Kindle Edition)
Wasn't sure what I was going to find when I started the book but then I found I couldn't put it down, even in the middle of the night! Great story which keeps on making one wonder if what was written could have happened, if in a slightly different way. I have always thought that Mallory and Irvine reached the summit of Everest, especially now that we know that the Second Step on the North side can be free climbed as demonstrated recently by Leo Houlding and Konrad Anker. A few typos and grammatical mistakes but otherwise a gripping read. My only question is : why the title chosen as it could put readers off if they are not into horror fiction and that would have been a shame. A definite 5 stars for me.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ok, 27 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Abominable (Kindle Edition)
Rather drawn out. And the climbing portrayals were a bit too technical & elongated for me, probably interesting for a climber. Afraid I gave up before end.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You can feel the icy winds of Everest!, 21 Oct 2013
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B. Selcoe (bournemouth, england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Abominable (Kindle Edition)
Ok, firstly I loved this book. It's brilliantly written and you live every moment of this harrowing adventure through the eyes of the characters.

However, this part of the description....

"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."

**SPOILER**

Led me to believe that the story would revolve around a yeti/abominable snowman, in a similar battle for survival that the characters in The Terror, had. This isn't the case. 'Yeti' are often reference, but this isn't what this story is about, it's so much more!

The depth of the story is incredible, the characters pasts are described so intricately that you feel like you know them.

Highly recommend reading, but I still slightly prefer the Terror, but only just!
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One step up and three steps back, 26 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Abominable (Hardcover)
Like the less enthusiastic reviews on this page -- or, more pointedly, like "Chicago Tribune" reviewer, Michael Robbins -- I am sad to report that while Dan Simmons has left behind the crazed political gremlin who sat (and shat) on his shoulder during the writing of FLASHBACK, the dull Ben-Stein-voiced, didactic professor is still hanging ten on his other shoulder -- throughout the majority of this book, in fact. And it's a looooooooooooooong, mother of a book. That drudging, didactic professor is also responsible, I assume, for the recent spate of expository declarations that nearly all of Simmons's characters spew throughout his novels these days (it was alarmingly present in BLACK HILLS; and while it was likewise in FLASHBACK, the crazed, right-wing political declarations and hackneyed plotting/writing overshadowed that weakness).

That's a shame, 'cause Simmons starts off with a conceit that is unique to him thus far: the metafictional, author as character bit, with Simmons talking about writing THE TERROR and then meeting Jake Perry, the man who is pivotal in the narrative of THE ABOMINABLE. In fact, it is Perry's journal that makes up the majority of the novel, and Simmon's narrative moves from first person "author" narrative to first person narrative by Perry with ease.

Unfortunately, Simmons makes the now-familiar misstep of taking a very good, quite competent, historical fiction narrative and begins overloading it with facts, and exposition (too often in the form of clunky conversation) and more facts, and minutiae and even more facts, and...well, you get the idea. It's as if he is trying to compensate for either lack of a big enough idea (to fill out his BIG novel -- and what's wrong with a short, 200-300 page thriller, anyway?) with tons of information. In this case, most of it about climbing a mountain, and the experiences thereof (perhaps, being the obviously frustrated desk jockey that he is, Simmons is also overcompensating for not actually climbing a mountain in the fashion of the men in this novel). In any case, it's not only a mood killer -- there's no suspense until the last third of the novel, and by then, the not-so-amazing-mystery, or limp macguffin, has been revealed -- it's absolute death to the narrative momentum.

There is ONE interesting surprise -- that has to do with one of the characters -- but unfortunately some brainiac in the PR department of Little, Brown decided to give it away on the dust jacket.

Suffice it to say Perry and friends -- at the behest of someone's ma -- go lookin' for a long lost soul on the side of Mt. Everest. Once they (finally, FINALLY!) get there, near novel's end, they find another sort of danger. And no, Virginia, it ain't a Yeti. Which is cool with me, 'cause I thought Simmons's supernatural slant in THE TERROR was a bit of a cop-out (and the reason it is only a good, rather than great, novel). But here, he tries so hard to find a sort of Eiger Sanction/James Bond sort of twist that it ends up being almost laughable.

By the way: the stilted conversation in this novel -- even the parts that sound like bad actors in a 1950s SF movie trying to explain too much -- isn't all that bad. Given that this is a period piece, the novel could've survived that (in fact, what I think of as the "new" Dan Simmons, see my older reviews, has a style that works really well with historical fiction. He should stick to writing that). What sinks this boat -- er, what drags this expedition over the cliff -- is the constant need by the author to overload each page with facts, facts, facts, usually about mountain climbing/and or gear. It's an unnecessary information dump. Simmons has been prone to this sort of thing for a while, with early chapters in CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT bogging down because of it. But either because of his own skill as a writer (which I think was largely responsible), and/or the skill of his editors, before the year 2000 ( the year his writing took a downturn for the worse), Simmons managed to usually moderated his need for those everything-but-the-kitchen-sink info dumps that clutter his books.

Now, it's like an avalanche: out of control, and taking everything from the reader's attention span to the writer's talent with it, right on over a cliff, at the bottom of which lies an abyss I like to call auctorial obscurity.

In the end, with THE ABOMINABLE, Simmons has moved one step up (the shucking off of the genre "walker" that made him feel safe; the metafictional beginning) and three steps back (more didactic expositions, the limp plot revelations, and so-so, sometimes cliched, characters), back to the shaky fictional ground he was standing on when he published DROOD. If only Simmons had taken just one more step...he might have found himself writing a novel as good, or better than, THE TERROR.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terror in Tibet?, 2 Dec 2013
This review is from: The Abominable (Hardcover)
I loved The Terror, absolutely loved it ...The Abominable is not The Terror in Tibet, no matter what the cover and blurb suggests...

Brilliantly researched the first part of the book is an absorbing study of mountaineering in its Golden Age, the 1920s when tweed jackets and stout walking boots were the order of the day and anyone using oxygen was seen as a "rotter". The depth and breadth of Simmons formidable research is his hallmark and your enjoyment of this book will depend on your liking for detail...and lots of it.

I imagine many readers might not have the stamina for this preliminary journey. But if you do you are rewarded by a strong atmospheric and emotional reading experience. The middle third of the book is a uncomfortable reminder of how absolutely unforgiving Mount Everest can be to those foolish enough to attempt to climb her vertical slopes.

Lacking the creature set pieces of The Terror, The Abominable becomes a 'Boys Own' thriller/murder mystery with an action-packed finale near the summit. The big reveal was Disappointing with a capital D. A deceptive book in so many ways - it's not a sequel to the Terror, it's not about Yetis, the framing device is fiction and there are a myriad of deceptions in the story.

No it's not the Terror, it is altogether a different animal, but The Abominable shares the weaving of fiction with historical fact, characters you care about and a thumping good story...and lots of information about crampons.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As usual a fantastic novel!, 17 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Abominable (Hardcover)
Dan Simmons new novel is in the same vein as "The Terror" and concerns an attempt to climb Everest in 1925. I have read the first 200 pages and am gripped. Simmons tells a wonderfully exciting story evoking period and place perfectly. HIGHLY Recommended!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it, 14 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Abominable (Kindle Edition)
As always Dan has produced another fantastic book.It never ceases to amaze me, the breadth of topics he can cover in such amazing detail.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 5 Dec 2013
This review is from: The Abominable (Hardcover)
So much detail. An amazing story. I loved it and was unable to put it down - a real page turner!
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7 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Awful Sound of Off-key singing, 26 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Abominable (Hardcover)
In his first collection of short shorties, Dan Simmons recalled his encounter with Harlan Ellison, a renowned writer sui-generis whose fiction ("I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"; "A Boy and His Dog";"Jeffty is Five"; and, of course, DEATHBIRD STORIES) and teleplays ("Demon With a Glass Hand", "City on the Edge of Forever", "Paladin of the Lost Hour") are legend amongst the genre crowd, and even beyond. Ellison discovered Simmons -- in the way that old-fashioned movie stars were discovered, and then introduced to agents -- at a writer's seminar in Colorado, and proclaimed that Simmons had "heard the music". For years after that, Simmons published the literary equivalent of classic rock N roll or folk rock albums, one after another: SONG OF KALI, CARRION COMFORT, the "Hyperion" and "Endymion" novels, SUMMER OF NIGHT. Sometimes he produced the equivalent of just a really good pop song: CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT, FIRES OF EDEN, or THE CROOK FACTORY, which was a very well-written historical thriller. Sometimes he put out something that was a beautiful failure: THE HOLLOW MAN. And sometimes he "sang" so beautifully it was nearly operatic: LOVEDEATH, a collection of excellent novellas that includes two masterpieces, "Entropy's Bed at Midnight" and "The Great Lover".

So to have had to watch, or listen, as Simmons, as a writer, self-immolated over the past 13 years, getting steadily worse -- from DARWIN'S BLADE to OLYMPOS to BLACK HILLS to FLASHBACK -- has been painful. Especially since, occasionally, he would write something which seemingly saw the return of his talent. Like THE TERROR, which was mostly a very good novel (some extraneous writing, but that can still be overlooked). Or about 1/4 of DROOD, which could have so much better if he'd had a good editor. So I was kind of hoping, beyond hope, that Simmons might suddenly pull out of the freefall with THE ABOMINABLE. Especially since, as others have noted, he seems to be rather good at creating a "voice" when it comes to historical fiction. Nowadays, when Simmons takes a stab at a contemporary fictional narrative, it sounds all wrong; but when he writes a period narrative, any anachronisms and creakiness seem perfectly natural.

Sadly, THE ABOMINABLE finds Simmons still making the awful sound of off-key singing.
And it starts right away, with what should have been a quirky and interesting piece of meta-fictional playfulness. An introduction wherein Dan Simmons, the "author", tells us how fortune and fate made it possible for him to meet Jake Perry, the narrator of THE ABOMINABLE, whose memoirs Simmons is publishing. Kinda fun, right? Nope. The meta-fictional introduction and afterword in this novel end up being as superfluous as, say, the "framing device" used by Steven Spielberg for "Saving Private Ryan". (Only instead of finding "Private Ryan" between the framing device, readers get "Wind Talkers" or "Captain Corelli's Mandolin").

Hundreds of others have noted Simmons has needed a good editor for the past decade, but it shouldn't be so evident from page one. Literally. The second sentence in the "introduction" reads like something written by a High school student who is failing English. No kidding. Go read it and come back. Simmons uses a dash after the first phrase. In the middle of a sentence, a dash is like a "super comma" -- something used to set a phrase or a few words apart -- and one should be able to take the words therein, toss them away, and have the sentence still make sense. Try tossing out those words set apart between those first dashes, and see if the sentence reads properly. It don't. And while editors might be blamed for that awfulness, Simmons, as a writer, is supposed to at least notice it when he reads his second or third draft; or maybe when he reads what is called a proof or galley. If THAT isn't offensive enough to the ears of readers who like the sound of a good story, Simmons goes on to write a passage that reads like advertisement for Mazda on page 3, with him and his "wife" going on and on about the Miata (it's as if a writing student was trying to imitate Stephen King's penchant for using name brands -- but even King doesn't drop a name that often)! And to heap insult onto injury, Simmons then goes on to admit that he is going to commit the writerly sin of describing a character by comparing him to an actor. He did something similar in the truly awful DARWIN'S BLADE, but at least then he sort of tip-toed around the laziness writing, "She reminded Dar of some character actress he liked..." and then waiting a couple of pages before having Darwin Minor think, "Stockard Channing!" On page 5 of what coulda been a contender for a fun metafictional segueway, Simmons writes: "When I work with beginning writers of any age, I warn them against describing their characters by comparing them with movie stars". So what does Dan Simmons -- a writer for more than 30 years, who has won plenty of awards for excellence, a writer whose praises were once sung by Stephen King and Harlan Ellison -- do? He compares Jake Perry to a famous actor, of course (all the better to land a movie deal): "In fact, Daniel Craig looks a lot like a young version of my late Mr. Perry."

Oy, vey.

I nearly threw the book out before struggling to get past that god-awful, meta-fictional introduction. I should've listend to my gut. It was telling me to save myself the heartburn.

Simmons thankfully goes into old-timey narrative mode for the main portion of the novel -- thereby saving readers the discomfort of digesting phrases like, "That was the clusterboink expedition..." (Really? A novel about hardened, death-defying explorers and he writes "clusterboink"? What are we, in kindergarten?) But while the narrative proper, beginning on page 25, with Part I: "The Climbers", starts off as smoothly as cross country skis on hard-packed snow, it is soon bogged down with Simmons penchant for unloading far too much detail -- minutiae, to be honest -- about mountain climbing and mountain climbing equipment, and mountain climbing, and the virile MEN who dare to make such climbs (Simmons quite often gets fixated on MEN and manliness, but that's a topic better left to therapists), and mountain climbing, and so on, ad nauseum.

When the plot kicks back in, there are Nazi bad guys (and aren't there always?), there's Shakesperean genderplay (more material for the therapist), a narrative surprise that's actually given away by the writing on the dustcover, lots of death defying feats of climbing ability, and a revelation ("The Abominable" of the title) that comes across like an anti-climax -- right at the point where one should get a climax.

I read THE TERROR and enjoyed it, but -- like a few readers (see how well I used these dashes?) -- I felt that the book was a bit long. Still, since the book was about men and ships stuck in ice, it worked out anyway. THE TERROR, in hardcover, weighed in at around 765 pages. THE ABOMINABLE is exactly 100 pages shorter. But if FEELS much longer! That's not a good thing at an opera, especially when your fat lady -- the author, in this case -- has lost her voice, and keeps hitting false notes.

Next time my local theater advertises a Dan Simmons "opera", I'm gonna give it a pass, and go see a good B movie instead.
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The Abominable
The Abominable by Dan Simmons (Paperback - 2 Jan 2014)
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