Friday, April 26, 2013

Reader's Diary #992- Andrew Pyper: The Wildfire Season

Just a few pages in I was admiring Andrew Pyper's gritty characters. He captured blue collar well and the writing reminded me somewhat of Stephen King.

But at about page 150, it suddenly occurred to me that I was no longer enjoying the book, not even remotely, and I spent the rest of time trying to determine what went wrong.

The best I can come up with is that Pyper took on too much. Though the book centers primarily around Miles McEwan, an self-exiled fire chief living in Ross River, Yukon, Pyper uses the third person omniscient to occasionally share glimpses into the minds of a handful of other characters (even a freakin' bear), and they all seem to have the same penchant for figurative language. Worse still is the excessive peril: at one point Miles is in danger of being burned alive, attacked by a bear, shot, and somewhere out there also lurks a mysterious arsonist. I half expected Venom or the Sandman to show up. It was hard to take the whole theme of guilt and redemption seriously when the rest of the plot was so over the top.

I appreciated a Yukon setting that wasn't Whitehorse or Dawson City, but had really hoped for a better story.


gypsysmom said...

I just read this recently and I disagree with you. I thought Pyper did a great job of developing the different story lines. Maybe you've never experienced a situation that just goes from bad to worse and keeps on going but I have. And I think that's what Miles McEwan was experiencing. I found it gripping and realistic and very satisfying.

John Mutford said...

Gypsysmom: Looks like we'll have to agree to disagree. I've been in plenty of situations that went from bad to worse. Miles had multiple and simultaneous situations that went from bad to worse. And we're not talking disease, job stress, or divorce here, we're talking a bear attack, a murder, and being caught in forest fire— all within 24 hours! I stick by my point that it was excessive.

Jules said...

When I saw it was set in the Yukon I was willing to give it a try. But now, I'm not sure. The third person narrative (of a bear, I did read that right?) and the downward spiralling over the top plot - I don't think it's a good choice for me right now - I need to get out of the reading rut, not fall deeper in.

Although, this my be humours (as you mentioned in a comment in one of my recent reviews). Then, it might be an okay sounding read, but the book description doesn't come across funny.