Fluke, by Christopher Moore
I just finished reading Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore. I’m a fan of Christopher Moore. I really love his mixture of humor and the fantastic. I consider him a modern day Douglas Adams. Lamb is an amazing book that I encourage everyone to read. But Fluke? Well, Fluke fell short. While it was mostly enjoyable it had some major flaws that sort of ruined it for me. Needless to say. Spoilers are coming.
So I’m about to talk about the end of the book and reveal spoilers. Did I mention spoilers are coming? Here. Let me warn you again.
Spoilers. For reals, yo!
The book is split into three sections. The first introduces the characters and their whale research life in Maui. While it was slow going at first the characters were likeable enough and introduced some intriguing possible plot device.
Then part two starts and our main hero, Nate, is dragged into the whale boat. 90% of what happened in part one didn’t matter. The scientists who only care about money? The navy guys? None of them mattered. What happens in the rest of the book would happen with or without them no matter what.
Part two also is the end of Nate as a driver of the story. Up until then he is digging, searching, and probing to find answers. He’s a scientist and is driven like one. Once he gets sucked into the whale he spends the rest of the book sick or complaining. At no point does he then save anyone, investigate anything, or come up with a solution. He’s just a passenger at this point.
Part three is where the pace picks up and, frankly, makes me think Moore simply wanted to wrap up the story and move onto other things. The ending feels rushed. The characters don’t really find a solution to saving the world, they just sort of go with the ride and make a half hearted effort in the denouement to keep doing what they’ve already been doing. And the way this ends really leaves a bunch of questions unanswered. And not in the ‘great mysteries should remain mysterious’ way, but more in the ‘wait, how did they get over there’ way. The end is just full of holes.
Super spoilers. Turn back now. I mean it.
If the Colonel wanted Nate’s help, then why did he keep him holed up with no answers for so long?
How did the Goo or the Whaley’s figure out that the Colonel was turning on them? Did Amy tell them? And if so, why did they arrest Nate as well? If it wasn’t Amy then how? What was the Goo’s plan? How did it want to resolve the inevitable conflict with humanity.
Why did Nate not actually do anything? He’s the scientist. I expected him to come up with some clever way for the Goo to live in peace with humanity, or at least find detente with a possible future resolution. But no. Nothing has changed. Nate was kidnapped to do... nothing, then he is rescued to accomplish.. nothing.
Basically nothing any of the characters did mattered. If they had never existed then the world would still be the same. Perhaps the Navy would still be testing torpedos, but if that was the big ‘thing we must do to save the world’ then why was it not the climax instead of the execution of the Colonel and Nate’s rescue?
The plotting of the end just didn’t make any sense. I felt like he was leading up to something else and then just didn’t finish it for some reason.
So.. should you read this book? No. No you should not. Read one of Moore’s other, much better, books.