I met Jake Perry in the summer of 1991. I'd had a longtime interest - in Antarctic exploration and explorers - actually since the International Geophysical Year in 1957-58, when the US established permanent bases down there, which really grabbed my 10-year-old's imagination - and around 1990 I had a vague hunch that there might be an idea for a novel set in Antarctica.
–Dan Simmons - The Abominable - c.2013
My final read for this year’s RIP
In June of 1924 reports from Everest reveal that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine have vanished, missing, presumed dead in their attempt to reach the summit. The news reaches our narrator, Jake Perry, as he himself is climbing a mountain. He is accompanied by Richard Deacon, a man who knows Mallory, who once attempted Everest with Mallory. Togther with Jean-Paul they decide that they will try to climg the tallest mountain in the world.
Not with a huge team, as Mallory had attempted, but a smaller, more elite group. The three of them and their sherpas. More technology, more skill, and hopefully less fanfare.
Another man was also reported missing at the same time as Mallory and Irvine, Lord Percy Bromly’s mother will pay to find out what happened to her son. Part of her knows he died up on that mountain, but he still has some hope, however futile that hope may be. Her money will pay for Jake and his group to search Everest, and possibly to reach the top.
This book is too long. It could easily be told in half the 663 pages that it took. The first half is all about the team’s preparations for the expedition. And yes, the reader does need to know some of it, but not over 300 pages of it.
I’m not saying that a book has to match exactly the reader’s expectations, surprising the reader is a great thing. But false advertising is something utterly different in my opinion.
But even allowing for that misdirection, the plot at the heart of the novel was really off-putting to me. And I’m afraid I’m going to have to reveal details to explain just why it set my teeth on edge Show Spoiler ▼
And I know, this is fiction, I should’t be worried about the realities, but you know what, tis whole aspect of the storyline just annoyed me. It was just plain wrong.
And even if that hadn’t been part of the story I just couldn’t recommend this book. Not unless you are really intested in mountaineering and climbing Mount Everest. It is just way too long, and repetitive. A savage editing might have saved it, but I’m not sure.