*Disclaimer: The following review contains only the viewpoints of Ashleigh Hatter. The Hike was the July Book of the Month, and you can find the full review from Caleb James and Spencer Church in the official podcast.*
Pairs Well With: a three part combo. Step one: a bottle of KC Bier Co Dunkel; a deliciously sublime Munich style brown lager with notes of brown sugar and an aromatic wheat aftertaste that perfectly settles the senses for a novel of unexpected potency. Follow this with round after round of the sweet, but undeniably powerful Ketel One Godmother (1 shot Ketel One vodka, 1/2 shot Amaretto, mixed and poured over ice), which is still going to be too weak to drown out the powerful emotional resonance within Magary’s book. Finish everything with an unsweetened ice tea; a classic virgin drink that refreshes the body, and clears the mind just in time for the brain shattering ending.
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Author: Drew Magary
Rating: 5 out of 5 shots
Synopsis: Ben is an ordinary man. He’s got the works; the wife, the kids, the secure job. In fact, it’s that very same secure job that brings him to the site of the beginning of the the biggest upset in his life. After checking into a hotel for a work function, Ben goes for a hike in the paths outside of this mountain-centered shelter. It’s an innocent enough activity, and one he hardly expects to morph into a life and death struggle to escape dog-faced (literally) men, well-spoken flesh eating giants, magic seed pods, Conquistadors, and a hollow eyed devil who traps him in the desert. Chock full of the unexpected, Drew Magary’s The Hike will subvert all your expectations and leave you stunned with the thrilling conclusion.
Overall Impression: In writing this, I’m finding it incredibly difficult to accurately describe my admiration for this book. This is a phenomenal story, full of characters that I was genuinely invested in; a feat that is surprisingly rare given the number of books I read per year. The pacing of the story was immaculate; the lunacy of the events and surrounding was never so over the top as to feel campy, nor under developed as to come across as a generic attempt to try and seem original; and the themes of identity, family, loyalty, and regret were so poignant that they linger with me still.
The Cheers: If the Overall Impression didn’t highlight it well enough, this book is near flawless. In fact, it may actually be perfect. Throughout my scouring of reviews of Magary’s work, I found many that compared him to Palahniuk, but I can’t grasp how comparing a talented, gifted, hard working storyteller with years of publishing experience to a one hit wonder like Palahniuk makes any sense. The Hike‘s pacing may be one of its strongest qualities. There are bouts of well described action and movement interspersed with slow paced introspection and historical recollection. Combining this with a character as close to an “every man” as Ben, and it makes for an engaging story that is easy to fall into and believe.
The Hangover: There is nothing I can find to gripe about with the novel. A common false complaint that many use to describe a newfound favourite book is the ever popular “I wish it hadn’t ended”. This, however, is not a sentiment I share. I love well crafted and executed endings, and this story may have the greatest ending of a novel that I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. Stephen King, take note.
Corking the Bottle: A fantasy novel that transcends convention and envelops the reader in a bevy of empathetic characters, existential quandaries, and heart warming introspection, The Hike by Drew Magary is the 21st century’s equivalent to Michael Ende’s famous The Neverending Story. The Drunken Pen Writing staff cannot recommend this book enough to our readers and listeners. Check out a copy at your local library or bookstore as soon as possible. You can thank us later.