on 1 May 2012
At first I thought I'm not that interested in these people: a couple of lads on a gap year... Oops then I was completely sucked in. Will and Jake take off on a daytrip with the seedy but knowledgeable guide Howard drawn by the promise of an idyllic waterfall and (for Jake at least) sex with Wa village girls. But just as the sweat and insect bites accumulate so does the snowball effect of things going wrong - even unto murder. As you read on you come to realise that this is more than a gap year thriller. The underlying complexities of such travel: exploitation of ethnic people; a cavalier disregard for local customs and a complete absence of any real knowledge of the place you're travelling in, are all shown to great comic effect. But this is a black, anxious-making humour that ultimately comes out of the characters. Thinking about little more than their own lives and the possiblility of enhancing their back-home profiles: Jake's myopic pleasure seeking; Will's self obsessed but ineffectual conscience and Howard's irredeemable lack of a moral core are for once given a certain and satisfying comeuppance. This is a novel that really works on every level. A really good read.
on 23 April 2012
I was recommended this book by a mate who suggested I stashed it in my bag to cover any dull moments on my trip to Austalia this year. I read the whole thing in one great binge beginning with my train ride out of London and finished it as the plane was taking off! I've never read anything so engrossing! It's action packed, transported me right into the middle of a steamy jungle in Burma and had as company some really interesting characters who you can't help caring about. And just when you think things can't get any worse for them. Guess what...?