20 August 2016

Books: The Hike By Drew Magary (2016)

“When Ben, a suburban family man, takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania, he decides to spend the afternoon before his dinner meeting on a short hike. Once he sets out into the woods behind his hotel, he quickly comes to realize that the path he has chosen cannot be given up easily. With no choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself falling deeper and deeper into a world of man-eating giants, bizarre demons, and colossal insects. On a quest of epic, life-or-death proportions, Ben finds help comes in some of the most unexpected forms, including a profane crustacean and a variety of magical objects, tools, and potions. Desperate to return to his family, Ben is determined to track down the Producer, the creator of the world in which he is being held hostage and the only one who can free him from the path.”

Perhaps one the most oddly unique books I’ve read in a long time. 

This wonderfully bizarre, surreal, often hilarious tale takes the tried and true premise of a man on an extraordinary journey to get back to his family, and twists it into a genre bending novel that defies categorizing. It’s like H.P. Lovecraft, Salvador Dali, Stephen King, and Cormac McCarthy (along with doses of Alice in Wonderland) spewed out a kid named Drew Magary. 

The conceit of The Hike is built on the foundation of having Ben doing things the reader does not expect. And while you may think you'll see where it’ll go (because, surely the author will run out of ideas), Magary pulls the rug out from under you and takes the reader farther out than one might expect, especially in today’s world of contemporary fantasy where the ending is telegraphed long before the final page. However here, the ending is brilliant, perhaps the best ending I’ve ever read. So the book, at slim 278 pages, never wastes a page. 

While The Hike is made up of many genres, borrowing elements from The Twilight Zone, King’s Dark Tower series, and the dark fantasy of Margaret Attwood, it’s still one damn fine read; never boring, never predictable. A funny, thought provoking, and a very weird acid trip through the creative mind of Drew Magary.

This should be read by all.  

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