The 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge was created and is hosted by Cathy at 746 Books. You can find my full TBR here, and keep reading for my spoiler-free thoughts on The Anomaly by Michael Rutger.
Content Warning: Read my thoughts below — I cannot speak on content warnings for the book past page 56.
- A member of my Book of the Month Club backlist since June 2018
- 338 pages
If Indiana Jones lived in the X-Files era, he might bear at least a passing resemblance to Nolan Moore—a rogue archaeologist hosting a documentary series derisively dismissed by the “real” experts but beloved of conspiracy theorists.
Nolan sets out to retrace the steps of an explorer from 1909 who claimed to have discovered a mysterious cavern high up in the ancient rock of the Grand Canyon. And, for once, he may have actually found what he seeks. Then the trip takes a nasty turn, and the cave begins turning against his expedition in mysterious ways.
Nolan’s story becomes one of survival against seemingly impossible odds. The only way out is to answer a series of intriguing questions: What is this strange cave? How has it remained hidden for so long? And what secret does it conceal that made its last visitors attempt to seal it forever?
I have tried advancing in this book a number of times in the past couple of months, and I have finally decided that it’s just not for me; I’m stopping at page 56 and making this my first (hopefully only) DNF for my 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge.
My main reason for not liking the book is the narrator (main character Nolan Moore): he is absolutely insufferable. I can’t stand his attitude or his blase entitlement, and unfortunately I don’t like the writing enough to get through the insufferable elements. To make this impression worse, I don’t get the sense that the author wrote Nolan to be disliked by the reader—if he had, I might feel more inclined to continue reading.
In addition, the summary calls Nolan a “rogue archaeologist”, and my mistake was in believing this. In a conversation with an accompanying journalist, Nolan admits to previously being a screenwriter, and not having any professional or expert archaeology experience. The only thing he has in common with Indiana Jones—to whom the summary compares Nolan—is a disregard for the people and culture(s) his exploration is imposing on (there is a scene in the book where the exploring party goes down a trail at the Grand Canyon which is off limits due to the fact it is part of a Navajo reservation. They joke about and use derogatory language while joking about this). I just don’t understand the reason for this—the story would have been all the more interesting if he was actually an archaeologist (or ex-archaeologist) shooting a documentary. So he’s unreliable in the information he’s sharing with viewers and blog readers, and he has an insufferable personality through which the other characters (particularly women) are either villainized (if they outwardly disagree with him) or put on a pedestal (if they are quiet and keep gear, schedules in order).
My annoyance is mounting again so before I end this post, I want to mention that I didn’t even make it to the point where the team gets to the cavern, so I can’t speak for the potentially thrilling, mysterious aspects of the story. My disappointment about this is immense, but I’m just not interested in being in Nolan’s head anymore.
Obviously this is not a book I recommend, but if you had a different and/or better experience with this book, let me know in the comments.