Fiction: “Fluke” by Christopher Moore

flukeI don’t think it’s a secret; I heart Christopher Moore. When his new book title and cover is released to the Internets, my eyes light up with the same intensity as when I discovered that some ice cream company in Britain made Daniel-Craig-pops (okay, not the same intensity, obviously. One is a very tasty treat that I would enjoy devouring, and the other is a book. There’s another joke in there, somewhere; something about devouring Daniel Craig’s Popsicle. But I’m going to walk away from that type of wit tonight and simply say that Daniel Craig can be my Good Humour Man any day).

Anyhoodle; I love Christopher Moore. My favorite book of all time is Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. I re-read it every other year or so (which reminds me; it’s been about eighteen months since the last read), and I’ve read almost every other book he’s written and loved them all (the titles I haven’t gotten to yet: The Island of the Sequined Love Nun and Coyote Blue; Fool was just released this year, and is in my To Read Pile).

Fluke was on my list, and I picked it up about four months ago in my fit of Reading ADHD. Sometime in the middle of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, I picked Fluke up again, from the beginning, and was determined to complete it.

I did, just before midnight on the 31st of May. But I didn’t love it as much as Christopher’s other stuff.

The story is interesting enough, on the outside: Whale biologist Nate Quinn and his research assistant Amy are researching the humpback song. One day, while cataloging data from a humpback singer they were following, Nate sees the words “BITE ME” on the whale’s fluke. What follows is a series of mishaps and coincidences, which all lead to the underwater city of Gooville and the secret of the humpback song.

Christopher Moore’s stories always have a dash of the supernatural intertwined with normal people in extraordinary situations (see Bloodsucking Fiends, where poor Tommy falls in love with a girl vampire, or The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, in which a seaside town is plagued by a sea monster). I think what threw me off with Fluke was the large amount of science (which one should know when talking about whale researchers; I know I can’t just make that stuff up). Also, the plot took a very long time to get going, and the ratio of questions to answers was exponentially high for a good amount of the novel. And I realize that we don’t want to answer a question as soon as we ask it; that way lies madness and a poorly written narrative. But we want to answer a couple of questions so we the reader don’t get lost or confused. It was starting to feel like the third season of Lost in this book for a while, with the more questions asked than answered.

The high point (heh) was the stoner kid, Kona, who talked in some pidgin Jamaican/Hawaiian stoner patois. The character had such a lust for life and huge enjoyment of the whales – it countered the research mode the other characters were always in.

I’d recommend this novel for a true Christopher Moore fanatic – it’s part of his ouvre, and should be enjoyed. For a casual reader of Christopher Moore? Skip it; move on to Fool. That’s my plan, anyway.

Grade for Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings: 2 stars


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