The Hike by Drew Magary (5 out of 5)

I should start this off by saying that I don’t think I can write a review that is worthy of this book. This book defies any normal standards I have tape measured for a blog post. I have two blank pieces of scrap paper where I jotted thoughts down as I made my way through the book. It made a huge impact on me. In what ways?? I don’t think I can delineate it without giving away key points of the book. You may have heard of our author. He writes for GQ and Deadline. He won on the TV show “Chopped”. He has written two non-fiction titles. His first fictional book, The Postmortal, should be required reading for anyone living in this day and age. It was, by far, one of my favorite books of 2011. If you haven’t read it…WHY NOT? And while you’re at it, pick up this one too!!! It’s out now, brought to us by the folks at Viking (Penguin Random House). 

The only sentence I feel appropriates this book is that it’s the biggest head trip I have NEVER had. I could not put it down. And by turns, I could not fathom some of what I read. But what a fantastical ride it is! For as much oddity is poured into the reader’s glass, there is a fair shake of wisdom hiding here, along with a few noteworthy life lessons. I felt like that with “The Postmortal”, but that book just scared the crap out of me. This was, through a good portion, much more light-hearted. And outright funny in parts. Try reading it while sitting with your dad in a VA waiting room for five hours. The codgers kept looking at me because I would laugh out loud. Sorry, people, it was funny! 

Our guy Ben goes to take a hike one day. He has business meetings ahead of him and doesn’t anticipate any problems, until he gets lost. On the path in front of him is a scene of indescribable carnage. He takes a path that leads to an adventure that he NEVER expected. He gets attacked by two men wearing masks of skinned Rottweilers. He then finds notes with his name upon them telling him to “Stay on the path, or you will die”. He meets and make friends with a profanity spewing, smart ass crab named Crab(their rapport reminded me of Chico & The Man, or better yet, Sanford & Son. Really- the only difference is the friendship is between a man and a crustacean instead of two men. In Magary’s capable pinchers, it works!). As he continues down the path, he walks into a muddied lair full of bloody body parts. He is then nabbed by the gigantic cannibal woman Fermosa, who despite her penchant for eating people, is unfailingly polite. Ben gets stripped of possessions and clothes, and thrown into a dark cell. Once he has regained his strength, he is told he has a choice- fight one man, or five dwarves(this has to be the weirdest Fight Club scene ever. No joke!). Being in this mess and missing his family has made our amiable hero a whole angrier man, and he kills the man in the ring. Fermosa then claims the spoils if the defeated, and sics the five dwarves on Ben anyway. He gets through that, only to stumble into even more trouble. The only clue Ben has that he has to get out of this damnable mess is to stay on the path, and that he now has to seek out a mysterious being named “The Producer”. Then- and only then- will Ben find his way home to his family. When Ben sleeps, he skips back in time, reliving decisions and things he wished he had handled better. The alternate reality and the world Ben unwittingly finds himself trapped in (with all of these odd beings, death around every twist and turn on the path, and two moons!) would not have been out of place in an old Twilight Zone episode. One of my favorite characters is the time traveling lost Spanish explorer Cisco. His emphatic mutterings of hatred toward Amerigo Vespucci had me in stitches (“The filthy Italian PIGDOG!”, “The filthy garbage person”). Cisco and Ben bond in a big way, and their friendship provides some of the most endearing parts of the book. Despite Ben’s situation being dire at times, he still manages to forge strong bonds, first with Crab and then with Cisco. Ben has another go round with Fermosa, on his way to his biggest challenge on The Path- Voris. This may mean life or death …or does it? You have no idea what the fuck Magary is going to throw at you next. And that is the beauty of this book. No matter how odd it gets, the heart never stops beating. You never stop wanting Ben to get out of this maze and find his way home to his family, yet the selfish side of this reader wanted to see what messed up oddness happens next. The worst part of this book? That it had to end. 

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~ by generationgbooks on August 19, 2016.

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