The Hike by Drew Magary
The Hike was one of those reads that quite unexpectedly takes you by storm. I had no idea what the book was about and in fact confess I felt a little anxious before picking it up but as it happens this story grabbed my attention completely virtually from the start and held me captivated for the duration. I think my biggest dilemma now is how to actually write an effective review that gives nothing away at the same time as making you want to read it.
I can say that this book has something of a surreal feel to, well, that’s how I felt reading it. It’s a strange journey of discovery following in the tracks of a hapless man, Ben, who seems to have stumbled onto the strangest path, a path on which, having witnessed a murder he is forced to flee for his life deep into the wilderness, is nothing like you could ever imagine.
So, being unable to really say too much more about the plot, because this really is a journey that you have to make on your own, I’ll make this review simply about why this worked for me.
I found this a fast paced read. It starts out with an unusual opening, one that you read with a slight feeling of something already being not quite right and that feeling quickly escalates into a very real understanding that things are far from normal and Ben is definitely in the strangest place.
This book had oddity in abundance, it feels like a weird coming together of John Connolly’s Book of Strange Things and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland almost bound together in a Stephen King type of style and feel. It reads like a coming of age story, but for grown ups, and the overriding feeling I had when reading was that this is a world where anything could and would happen. A world where you can one moment be lost in the forest and the next on the beach talking to a crab. In that respect it put me in mind of certain video games, where one minute you have a character riding on a dinosaur eating mushrooms and the next in a haunted house or running through a volcano. In other words anything can turn up.
The writing style at times has a whimsical, fairytale feel as Ben wanders down his path encountering little old ladies in gingerbread style houses one moment only to then turn to a scene of horror in the next. I confess I enjoyed the writing style and was hooked from the opening lines. In fact, upon consideration, I’m not sure whether it’s the pace of the read that is fast or whether it compelled me to read at breakneck speed in order to find out what was actually happening but I admit I was utterly intrigued.
I hope that I haven’t overstated the strangeness too much. Yes, this is undoubtedly a trippy type of read but it’s really well executed and so intriguing, it has touches of horror but also touches of humour and on top of that, it completely threw me. As I read this I started to have that feeling that I knew what this was going to be about, and even how it might end, but as it happened I was completely and very satisfyingly wrong!
I admit that this might not be for everyone. It’s an unusual book without doubt and certainly one that is difficult to review. But, I’m certainly glad to have picked this one up, I had no difficulty in dashing the Hike and although I’m unable to give much away with this review I can say that this book left me impressed.