The Terror by Dan Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Part historical fiction, part horror, part supernatural, part mutiny, part survivor movie, the Terror is all these things, and more.
At 946 pages long and 28 odd hours of my very precious time invested, this one was worth a blog post.
Is it amazing?
In places, it genuinely is.
Vivid descriptions of the environment, the weather, the physical and emotional distress – some of this is up there with the best I’ve read. In places the ice itself is like it’s alive. The characters are strong and their motivations clear.
Does it drag?
Sometimes it flies other times it’s like you’re waiting to die (with the crew).
Is the genre mix confusing?
You betcha. I love a real world with supernatural undertones. But this veered all over the place. It was like the chapters were written at different times then not joined up. Focus moves from voyage, back to preparation, to character flashbacks, hints of horror, then to being stranded, then to hunger and illness, then to loss, then escape…
It whirls like a dozen tornadoes, each one spinning and creating havoc, but rarely does the spinning come together.
Didn’t mind the different characters PoVs. Didn’t mind the different genre elements, but they were often introduced, then forgotten for hundreds of pages, then reintroduced – seeding bits throughout the book would have been better for me.
Was it too long?
I’d hazard a guess, but I think 200-300 pages less wouldn’t have changed much to the story other than sharpen it.
Do I hate long books?
Nope, love them. Jerusalem, by Alan Moore is 1300 pages long and probably my favourite book. The Terror is almost short fiction in this company.
Should you read this book?
It’s different. It’s intense. It has truly incredible descriptions. It is beautiful, harsh, terrifying and sometimes frustrating.
You can’t help but love some of the characters (even through their flaws). Others you can’t wait to see get their comeuppance.
The book might stay with you for days afterwards (as it did for me). However, it has flaws, like most books do – it’s not perfect.
Think of it as an investment, if you don’t like the first few hundred pages, then it’s probably not worth continuing and you can get back some time you might have wasted. If you enjoyed the first few hundred then be prepared for answers to come slowly, but they will (mostly) come and you’ll feel good that you stuck with it, you’ll feel like you were there, you’ll feel like you survived.
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