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A long, arduous, painful journey - and that was just the reading of it.
on 22 September 2016
I picked up The Abominable over a shorter story called merely Abominable by another author, sold in part by the Stephen King quote on the front. Perhaps I should have instead seen it as an indication that someone who writes rather long and sometimes drawn out stories likes rather long and drawn out stories.
The story of The Abominable follows three gifted alpine climbers who are given the opportunity to mount an expedition to Everest, in the wake of the doomed Malory endeavor in 1924. But it is not Malory and his partners they are following in the footsteps of: instead, it is a young aristocrat who is also reported dead on the unforgiving mountain. But Everest has more secrets, only to be revealed to the few who venture there, and the even fewer who survive such discovery.
I can't put it any more bluntly than this: The Abominable is over-priced, over-long and meticulous and unrelenting in it's attention to detail, and that isn't a good thing. It is clear from the introduction that Dan Simmons is not a young man, and this is clearly shown in the old fashioned writing style. I understand that it meant to be set in the 1920s, but the narrative is as slow and as plodding as a trek up Everest itself.
It actually takes the length of a good size novel before the monster at its heart is even mentioned, let alone revealed. I was not engaged by the story, nor did I feel pulled towards the plight of the main characters. In fact, it's fairly honest to say from about a quarter of the way in I was longing for their deaths at the hands of the yet unseen Yeti.
There is a Sherlock Holmes style warmth to the narrative that is appealing, but it is so long winded that my interest was lost a long way before the end.