by Drew Magary, Christopher Lane (Narrator)
Unabridged Audiobook, 8 hrs., 4 min.
Brilliance Audio, 2016
Read: April 25 – 26, 2018
This is one of the more creative, inventive, unpredictable books I’ve come across in a long while. Ben takes a business trip to Pennsylvania, and goes for a hike in the afternoon before his big diner meeting. Somehow, while hiking he runs into … well some creatures that I won’t describe because you should read that for yourself, and realizes that reality has turned off and he’s in a very strange place. Eventually he learns that he needs to stay on the Path (not a yellow-brick road, but might as well be) until he finds the Producer. So he sets out to do just that — and ends up walking a lot further than he imagined possible, doing things he’d never imagined and almost befriending a talking snow crab that curses like a sailor.
I was so annoyed last week when I showed my wife the paperback version of this book — “hey, this is the strange book I was telling you about…” when I saw a blurb on the back from Wired comparing this to The Phantom Tollbooth, because that was almost all the insight I had into this — some (I feared and now know) obvious comparison to the Juster classic, but for adults. But really, that’s the best way to put it — the Adult Phantom Tollbooth, but without the wordplay (or charm, or heart, or . . . ).
The thing just left me cold. I never, ever, ever cared for the protagonist or his plight. I kept looking for the point to all this and never got there (even the thing at the end which came close to giving us the point, didn’t really). I appreciated the skill, the imagination, etc. I quite enjoyed crab. But I just never cared about any of it.
The ending? I’m talking the last paragraph or two (hard to guess on audio) — so the very end ending? That earned .5 – 1 star from me. It didn’t make me care any more, but it floored me. I want to give this 2 stars, that’s how little I liked it, but the talent and skill displayed keep me from it — not to mention that killer ending.