This book has the pleasure of being my 111th book of the year. This means I have completed my yearly challenge and anything on top of this is just icing on the book cake.
I wanted to read this book because I read up on the Dyatlov Incident and I was intrigued so I wanted to see what an author would do with it. This book is centered around a man named Viktor, he’s a reporter, a writer, yes. It’s a book about a writer. Viktor lives in Russia. It’s the fiftieth anniversary of the Dyatlov incident and he’s been asked to do an article on it.
Here’s the thing, when we meet Viktor he’s not out writing his article. He’s in a mental institution. Three of his friends have been found dead in Dyatlov Pass and it is a psychologist’s responsibility to determine whether or not he’s sane enough to be charged with their murders. The psychologist at first thinks Viktor is full of crap, but Viktor is able to produce documentation to back up some of his claims and his story is strange one.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident happened in 1959. A group of explorers were planning to go a mountain named Otorten, which basically means “Don’t go there,” in the local language. They were all found dead. The official cause of death is listed as a compelling unknown force. Several of the bodies held high levels of radiation. Several of the bodies suffered severe internal injuries without external injuries. Their tent was cut open from the inside. The files were classified by the Soviet Union. No one has ever been able to figure out what happened to these people.
Viktor tells his story to his psychologist. His probing into the article soon leads him to strange places. One of the men in the original group was not able to go due to illness. He knows another man who has many files on the incident. The other man has seemingly devoted his entire life to finding out what really happened there. He proposes to Viktor that they go back and check things out. Viktor receives some secret files from another man. Soon two women, a photographer and a physicist, are also brought into the group. They have a strange object which is deemed necessary to return to the area.
Soon talk of strange orbs in the sky, installations, and cauldrons fills the text. The group supposes that maybe other dimensions are being superimposed here and that’s what causes all the strange things to happen; things soon become stranger than they ever could have imagined and three of Viktor’s associates end up dead.
What I liked
I liked how Alan was able to take some of the information about the Dyatlov incident and make it a book. It’s fiction of course. No one really knows what happened to the people involved. It’s one of the strangest mysteries of the twentieth century. These people died horrible and strange deaths and no one knows why. So of course we can speculate about secret government experiments, yetis, aliens, and so much more. Unless we have some more real evidence, we may never know what happened to these poor people.
There is a bit of government conspiracy in this book and it’s Russia why wouldn’t there be. Russia has been involved, theoretically, in pretty much every government conspiracy for the last seventy years or so. Russia isn’t always the mastermind of all that goes bad, but there are plenty of conspiracy theorists that would like it to be. Russia is a place of mystery. It seems both dangerous and really neat at the same time. So we as non-Russians like to make up a whole bunch of stuff about it. Some of the things people make up about it are really neat, while others are just stupid.
What I didn’t like
It’s a book about a writer. Let me repeat it again, it’s a man writing a book about a man writing an article. Is there another man in the article that’s writing something as well? I don’t like this crutch some writers seem to keep falling back on. Come on people you have imaginations write about a construction worker or an exotic dancer; I don’t care, just write about anyone besides another writer. I have heard the phrase, “Write about what you know,” as advice for writing. I don’t think that’s necessarily a good idea. We can do research in order to write about things we don’t know. Just because being a writer is familiar, it doesn’t mean you should write about it. I do realize this may seem all very hypocritical since I’m a writer writing about writers.
All this talk of different dimensions and such is woo-woo. We talked about woo-woo a while back, remember? Writing about woo-woo things is not bad, it’s generally called Science Fiction or Fantasy. If there were no books about woo-woo things the world would be a sad place. My problem with this book being woo-woo is that the Dyatlov Pass Incident was a real thing. People really died and nobody really knows what happened to them. I think talk of other dimensions supposedly causing the death of these people is kind of a cop-out. I believe a book that would have been more suited to the Dyatlov Pass Incident would have been a book about some secret government experiment in the middle of nowhere, even a Yeti would have been a more plausible explanation for these deaths over inter-dimensional fluctuations. People have actually claimed to see Yetis, no one I know has ever traveled to a different dimension, to be fair, I don’t know anyone who says they’ve seen a yeti either.
If you would like to read a nice fiction piece about the Dyatlov Incident this is a good place to start, but keep in mind it’s definitely more on the Science-Ficiton-y side.
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