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3.4 out of 5 stars
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3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 10 February 2014
Having read a number of Simmons' works I was excited to dig, or more aptly climb into his take on ascending Everest. Sadly I was bitterly disappointed; the mountaineering descriptions are wonderful but the story is flabby, the characters shallow, & the Apex low. Using historical settings is one thing but to build on history with such, at best, abandon, and at worst frivolity made an unsatisfying conclusion to a story in desperate need of editing. It was only in closing the book for the final time that I felt a mountain had been climbed.
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on 3 February 2014
As with a number of other reviewers I think I came to this book expecting another Terror, but this time on Everest. And given the cover and the blurb I think I can be forgiven for thinking that. This is not a suspense novel about Yetis on Everest. It's sort of a technical climbing manual made into a fiction. Given that I did actually finish it, (hence the 3 stars) which I haven't for so many recent novels. It was so technical (gosh, did I know nothing about ropes, crampons, ice, snow, rocks, sun glare, wool, down.... etc [I could go on as Dan Simmons does]. I know a LOT now). And it's also a sort of political spy novel. Do the two sit happily together? I don't think they do really. But I can imagine men loving this novel as it's all climbing, feats of daring do and good old fashioned chaps being noble and then evil Nazis and a huge world-changing conclusion. If you like climbing and are interested in Everest history then I suppose you would find this fascinating. But if you want a spooky good old monster horror novel then I'd suggest you avoid this one.
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on 23 February 2014
Usually I can tell whether I will enjoy a book after a few pages. Sadly this was one of those books that I did not enjoy. I persevered but it was slow moving and a big disappointment. Sorry Dan
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on 15 December 2013
I have read almost all the books by Dan Simmons. I also happen to share too his interest in mountaineering and for the last 20 years I have read many books on the experiences of famous Himalayan mountain climbers such as Reinhold Messner. His latest, lengthy novel "The Abominable" is historical fiction related to that subject. After reading the novel, I find that it is characterized by the same problem that exists in his latest novels: excessive chatter (spoilers ahead). In fact, even the characters of the novel chatter excessively at an altitude of 28,000 feet, although it is well known that it is very difficult to talk much there, due to the low atmospheric pressure and extreme fatigue. Well, not only the characters talk much but they also accomplish superhuman acts that do not make much sense. Therefore suspension of disbelief is not achieved while reading this novel. The book is so full with technical details on climbing techniques, equipment e.t.c that the reader looses the motivation to read after a while. A map of Everest on the first pages (like in the Terror book) showing the locations of the Camps. would have helped the readers follow better the description of the whereabouts of the characters. There is no DRIVE to keep turning the pages as there used to be in novels such as SONG OF KALI, HYPERION, A WINTER HAUNTING or THE TERROR. And the revelations near the end of the novel are not convincing, within the constraints of real historical events.
On the positive side, the patient reader may enjoy this novel. As usual for a Simmons book, it is well-researched ( although I found some errors) and manages to mentally transport you to the time of early-mid 20th century. The length of it, allows time for good character development and in fact, by the end. you find that you “care” about the characters of the story.
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on 19 June 2014
If you are expecting to read a horror story about the Abominable Snowman, then you're in for a disappointment. I had no illusions going in, I've read a few Dan Simmons books and know how longwinded they can be, but this is below the belt. The title and blurb on this book is rather fraudulent and seems to be designed by the publisher to sell as many books as possible rather than give an accurate description of what to expect.
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on 25 April 2014
Yet another novel of Dan Simmons that promises a lot yet delivers another throat singing bear ridiculousness! Promises a lot delivers little!
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on 24 December 2014
This book should have been at least, at the very least, 150 pages shorter than it is. 300 pages shorter would have been better, effectively leaving off the entire ending. I found the whole 'here we are on the mountain, look how clever we are, such brilliant climbers, oh hell, there's a bunch of Germans pointing guns at us' scenario utterly laughable and the reason they were all there equally laughable.

I do a lot of editing. Therefore it follows I do a lot of reading. My insistence always when reading a story is - does this have any logic to it? The most obscure horror/fantasy story can still retain an element of logic. Unfortunately logic took one look at Everest and went walkabout. Pity the characters didn't follow suit.

Speaking of which, none of the characters were 'real' people. They came with strong prejudices which nothing shifted, despite extreme circumstances, they were racist and difficult, and should have learned from their experiences not to be either. We were asked to suspend belief in Super Woman and Super Man along side her, to believe the Germans, not having the crampons carefully designed by the French expert climbing with them, still got to the levels they did with no apparent loss of breath or strength...

Mallory and Irvine were thrown in as coincidental people. Everything focussed on a) the summit and b) Lord Bromley, dead on the mountain somewhere. And guess what? despite all that snow, ice, howling gales, blinding blizzards and all, they found all the bodies. How clever is that?

Truthfully, I am grateful I found this in a charity shop and didn't pay the full cover price for it. I won't be looking for any more of Mr Simmons' books. That's one thing trawling the charity shops is good for - checking people out before paying full price for either a paperback or a kindle copy. I've deleted so much from my kindle it's untrue and I'm going through paperbacks the same way. Is no one providing a decent read these days?
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on 26 March 2015
I have really enjoyed this novel by Dan Simmons. This is only the third book that I've read that he has penned but I can say with confidence that he is one of my favourite authors. He is an extremely talented writer and after reading his novel 'Drood', (a hefty tome, just like The Abominable is) I found myself looking up his other books and indeed I bought some. The Abominable is one that I got and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't rate it as highly as Drood but I thoroughly recommend this book, I unreservedly award it four stars. I don't want to give anything away (spoilers) about the book but I will say that it has far more going on than the title of the novel may suggest. If you are looking for Yetis hunting humans...look elsewhere. This book does indeed deal with something far more...abominable. I definitely will be reading more Dan Simmons books including his Hyperion Cantos novels. His new novel, The Fifth Heart is set for release this month, March 2015.
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on 8 April 2016
It appears that Dan Simmons is like Marmite, and he attracts criticism because of expectations based on previous novels. No new novel of his can be predicted, each time he builds a whole new world, a world that has to be immersed in, quite often involving lengthy explanations of quite arcane material like the procedures of mountain climbing in this book. I loved being immersed in these elements and being given the feelings and reactions of a real seasoned rock climber. In my opinion his books feel too short because at the end it is the end of having lived someone else's life. Dan Simmons has this ability to pace his books, to concentrate on a protagonists knowledge of the particular at a nail biting agonising slow crawl, then to dash at a mind spinning free fall. It feels very visceral and very very real. I recommend this book as a wonderful read by a first rate author, just please be prepared to drown yourself in it.
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I liked a lot the beginning of this book, but quite quickly it collapsed and turned into a completely ridiculous mess. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.

Encouraged by some of previous writings by Dan Simmons, I took this book with me on a short holiday, expecting a good adventure novel. And indeed the book begins very, VERY well indeed. It takes the form of memories written by a very, very old man dying of cancer, who decided to finally tell the story of an 1925 expedition to Mount Everest to recover the body of a climber who died there almost in the same time as Mallory and Irvine. The title suggests that the yeti will appear at some moment and quite quickly in the book we will also learn that a group of mysterious German climbers, all belonging to Nazi party, were also involved. All that could have done for an extraordinary adventure novel and indeed, on first pages this book delivers - the atmosphere is initially somewhere between Jules Verne and Henry Rider Haggard.

But after the first 200 pages (it is a huge book) things collapse, as the three main characters, whom we came to like and respect, are suddenly completely swept aside and replaced by a newcomer, a Super Woman, who, at the tender age of 25 rules a mini empire in Himalayas, climbs 8000 meter mountains alone, is BFF with Dalai Lama, etc. Of course she is also "the most beautiful woman in the world". The Super Woman and her henchman, an Indian super-doctor who is also finance genius and world class climber, take control of the whole expedition and reduce the three guys who were until then main characters to the status of half-inert side-kicks. From that moment this book could have for title "Super Woman vs. Nazis".

Then things get even worse, at every single page (warning - more SPOILERS ahead):

- we climb and climb and climb and climb - ultimately reaching nothing...

- the solution of the whole mystery, once revealed is IMPOSSIBLY IDIOTIC!

- the last hundred pages are a kind of rewriting of the whole history of First World War, the 20s, the 30s and the Second World War in a way which made me howl with laughter...)))

- the Nazis, after being introduced as really evil and really dangerous, are very soon changed into standard issue bad guys from cartoons, grunting and snarling terribly but otherwise stupid and completely clueless

- the Nazi ideology is presented in this book in a really silly way; because their ideology was based on racism author thought that he should describe the Nazis as openly despising and insulting Hindus - when in fact Nazis were fascinated by India and Hinduism whom they considered as a kind of "Aryan brothers" and this fascination was mutual, as in 1925 radical anti-British militants formed RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), an ultra-right nationalist organisation inspired by German NSDAP and Italian fascist party (RSS still exists today and is very powerful by the way); Himmler himself was absolutely obsessed with India and Tibet, as "craddle of Aryans" - he even dispatched expeditions there to look for "artefacts" and "ancient wisdom"; also, after they seized power in 1933 Nazis welcomed in Germany numerous Hindu nationalists and even raised a Hindu legion during WWII. Presenting Nazis as a kind of skinheads is really stupid; they were in fact WAY MORE DANGEROUS THAN THAT! Their grotesque murderous ideology managed in fact to seduce - at least for a time - many eminent and influential people: Martin Heidegger, Knut Hamsun, Leni Riefenstahl, Carl Orff, Drieu La Rochelle, Robert Brasillach, Louis Ferdinand Celine, Arno Breker, Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Joseph P. Kennedy, Ezra Pound, Errol Flynn, Coco Chanel, Duke of Windsor, etc. etc. They wouldn't have managed it with just grunting and snarling.

- an ultimately rather minor thing, but important for military history and weapons maniacs like me; author pretended to stick to some historical realities, but he gives us a SS-Sturmbanfuhrer (major) leading an expedition in Himalayas in 1925, when this rank didn't even exist before 1928; also, Nazis use "schmeisser" submachine guns, when in fact those weapons, the Erma MP 38 (frequently improperly named "schmeissers") appeared only thirteen years later...

- the yeti appears in just one paragraph and then vanishes; still, by they short appearance in this 1925 story the yetis win the Battle of Britain in 1940 (I am NOT kidding!)

I wouldn't pay too much attention to Stephen King's recommendation on the cover; he did the same thing with the first "Hunger Games" book (which I actually liked - a lot); then, a couple of years later, when his contract obligations were over, he heavily criticized the book...

Bottom line, this book is a completley ridiculous nonsense - I hardly managed to finish it and it really ruined part of my holidays. Two stars only because the first 200 pages (before the expedition even begins) are very readable. Otherwise, AVOID like plague!
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