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text 2017-09-25 01:36
Halloween Bingo 2017 - Ghost
Thin Air - Michelle Paver

Ooh, I did enjoy this creepy little tale. Lots of chills, and you're never quite sure whether Stephen is really being haunted or if he's just suffering from altitude sickness.

 

And I loved the descriptions of the clothing and food. Paver has obviously done her research into the climbing expeditions of the 1930s, and they're a far cry from today. No breathable fabrics or energy drinks in those times. Woolly jumpers, mugs of hot tea, and peach brandy seemed to be what kept these climbers going.

 

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text 2017-09-24 19:26
Halloween Bingo 2017 - Ghost
Thin Air - Michelle Paver

Lunch is Plasmon biscuits with tinned pâté and Kendal Mint Cake.

 

Hah! Have now got such a craving for a piece of Romney's Kendal mint cake. I always carried a slab of the stuff in my rucksack when I was a teenager. Admittedly, the mountains of the Lake District weren't quite as high as the Himalayas, but it was very welcome when I got to the top. 

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review 2017-09-23 23:39
Thin Air
Thin Air - Michelle Paver

I find it impossible to grasp that I'm so utterly at the mercy of chance. Isn't it strange that we laugh at the Sherpas for putting their faith in amulets, when we're really exactly the same, except that with us it's a white rabbit's foot, or a crucifix? And like the Sherpas, we believe in this thing called "luck". We say: "His luck ran out", as if luck were a physical substance, rather than an illusion; it doesn't exist.

Well, this was fun. We follow a British expedition from Darjeeling to the Kangchenjunga. The story is set in 1935, at which time no expedition had yet reached the top of the mountain. A few had tried, but the first ascend would not happen until 1955. 

 

Michelle Paver has taken bits and pieces of facts from the attempts at climbing the mountain - all of which are interesting stories in their own right (see here for a brief history) - and added them to a truly gripping plot about a pair of brothers who don't seem to see eye to eye.

As the group makes their slow ascend, we get to learn more about the members of the group, and about the topics that no one wants to speak about - such as the ill fate of previous expeditions.

As the group ascends, the harsh conditions and altitude take their toll on the men, physically and mentally.  

 

And here's the crux, as we ascend the mountain with the group it becomes less and less clear whether our narrator describes things as they happen or whether his impressions are influenced by exhaustion and altitude sickness. 

 

I really liked this book. It was gripping. Not just the plot but also the way that Paver included a lot of details of the expedition - from supplies to weather changes. Yet, all the while, descriptions remained relevant, to the point, and decidedly under-embellished. 

The suspense driving Thin Air relied as much on the dialogue between the characters as it did on description, and I was glued to the book until the last page.

 

 

(Image Source:  http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/India/Northeast/Sikkim/Dzongri/photo256113.htm)

 

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review 2017-09-23 16:37
Thin Air
Thin Air - Michelle Paver

I love stories that take place in the harsh setting of mountains. And Michelle Paver´s Thin Air combines this setting with a compelling ghost story, which makes this a truly great and enjoyable read.

 

I really appreciated the slow build up of this novel and the almost gothic feel to it. We follow the main character, Stephen, on his slow ascend of the mountain and get to experience the sheer force of the mountain, the superstitions of the sherpas and the effects of altitude sickness through his eyes. And since he is a doctor, we get a few medical facts about altitude sickness as well, which I personally appreciated very much.

 

And since hallucinations are a symptom of altitude sickness, I was never sure if he actually saw things in reality or if he was hallucinating:

 

But even if I´m widly mistaken about everything, about what I saw on the Crag and now here at the crevasse - even if it´s all simply the result of oxygen deficiency - how does that help? The idea that altitude is giving me waking nightmares, that thin air is altering my very perceptions and deceiving my own mind into betraying me ... I find that horryfying.

It´s a kind of possession.

 

A highly recommended, dark and subtly disturbing read.

 

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text 2017-09-23 11:36
Reading progress update: I've read 152 out of 228 pages.
Thin Air - Michelle Paver

The rucksack slumps in Kits' lap, its buckle catching the light. Winking at me.

Uh-oh. The tension in this story, not just of the story of the climb but between the characters is superbly maintained, and now we have another clue to the why Stephen is feeling anxiety and dread. Or do we? 

 

Paver mentioned Poe in one of the dialogues between Stephen and his brother and, apart from the obvious acknowledgement in their dialogue and the gorak (a raven-like bird) stalking the expedition, there are also some similarities in style.

It is still all hugely enjoyable.

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