|Submitted by Archren |
(Apr 13, 2006)
It is probably a little too cheap and easy to say that “Fluke” is the Hitchhiker’s Guide equivalent for marine biologists. But how often does a science fiction book about whales actually inspire you to laugh out loud? In much the same way as HHGTTG, what really makes this story funny is the supporting characters. Nate Quinn, the main character, can be a little passive and whiney (like Arthur). But Kona, the pot smoking, white “Native Hawaiian” from New Jersey is a simply amazing creation, and Moore’s comic timing with his dialog is flawless. Then there’s Clay, the underwater photographer with a great sense of loyalty and a hyper-sexed girlfriend. And Amy, a very pale research assistant with useful skills and (as all the male characters note) a nice bottom. And that’s not even scratching the surface of the wonderful set of sympathetically caricatured background cast.
At the start, this book seems to be a completely contemporary, if really funny, story about whale researchers in Hawaii. The only odd thing about the first half is when Nate looks at the fluke of a diving whale (their identifying fingerprint). On this whale, the fluke’s markings spell out “BITE ME.” That clearly sets the tone of the novel.
Nate thinks he may actually be going insane, but enough other things happen to put the incident out of his mind: a break-in at his office, his good friend almost drowning, a boat sinking, etc. Then there’s the factions of whale researchers and their competing agendas. Several red herrings are set up, playing upon reader expectations, which add a nice touch.
In the second half, things take a turn for the decidedly odd. Nate becomes a little less interesting at this point, and his sections of adventures and discoveries sometimes drag. But the exploits of the land-based friends he leaves behind more than make up for it. For example, the scene of Nate’s “funeral” combines moments that call to mind the real painful awkwardness of these types of things, and then moments inciting loud giggling. This is the first book by Christopher Moore that I have read, but I suspect that it will be the first of many.