Top critical review
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Good idea, bad execution and dull writing
on 9 May 2013
I bought this book because I'm into Africa, travel and bikes - seemed like a no-brainer. Mr Whelan embarks on a very long and hard trip with little preparation other than some "Tea Encounters", and knows near nothing about his bike and how to repair it, apparently hasn't read anything about the countries he's visiting, his sense of orientation is very limited and his riding skills are very poor. Therefore, he spent about half the book complaining and moaning as he fells off his bike, his old and inadequate bike breaks, he doesn't find the way and the locals don't help him as he'd like to (jeez, he doesn't even speak french). At first it was funny but at the tenth time it isn't funny anymore. This stuff also leads to very awkward situations.
As he doesn't know much about the countries he goes through, large parts of the book are spent describing the dirty roads and the villages, complaining about the weather and moaning about how nothing seems to work in African countries -surprise!
When you read a book about Africa you expect some insight into each country (as Theroux or Bryson would do), but Mr. Whelan never says anything about the countries he goes through, no information, analysis, political situation, no history or good critic whatsoever. This means the book becomes very dull at times and the hundreds of setbacks he suffers because of lack of preparation make the read hard and slow and boring. Finally, the rough critic he makes of Namibia (without really knowing anything about the country) and the sense of anti climax as he reaches Cape Town meant I was happy to finish the book.
On the upper side, it has a couple of funny moments, and apparently Mr. Whelan enjoyed himself. Shame I didn't.