Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings

Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings
Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the last of Christopher Moore's published books I hadn't gotten around to reading (though he has another coming out this year). You'd think, by now, that I'd be used to not knowing what to expect of Moore's books. He's written about vampires, Coyote the trickster god, Christ's childhood pal, a funny take on King Lear, and inheriting Death's mantle accidentally.

In Fluke, he writes about a whale researcher who's been studying the songs of humpback whales for years. Nathan Quinn thinks he's made a breakthrough in his research, when it turns out he's come too close to finding out a strange truth within the ocean's depths.

The humor in Fluke is mostly through wrapping one's mind around very strange and bizarre circumstances. There are also a lot of quick turns of phrase that had me laughing aloud. Mostly, though, this book is weird. I don't think I can prepare future readers for how weird it is, because, every time I thought it couldn't get weirder, it proved me wrong.

I don't know how well the whale science stacks up, but Moore admits in his afterword that he mostly relied on fantastic elements and making things up. He doesn't make a lot of bold claims, though, beyond the answer, in the end, of why whales sing. But then, in a world where a giant, gooey organism lives in the sea, he's earned himself a little wiggle room on the truth.

I listened to the audio version of the book, and the performance was overall good. The narrator did tend to speak some lines in a low voice, though, and shout others, in keeping with textual clues. It made some words and lines inaudible, and some parts painfully loud. I wish audio book publishers would better modulate the volume so I don't have to keep adjusting it after missing some, or getting my ears shouted in.

Overall, though, I found this an entertaining and weird book, and I'm glad I picked it up. I would've rated this 3 stars, but for the addition of the afterword, which left me grinning.

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