Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fluke - Christopher Moore

    2003; 311 pages.  New Author? : No.  Full Title : Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings.  Genre : Humor.  Overall Rating : 8½*/10.

    Nate Quinn and Clay Demodocus are marine biologists stationed in Hawaii.  Their scientific niche is studying the “songs” of the great whales.  It’s tedious work – go out on a boat, drop a microphone in the ocean, film the whale if possible, record the data, and take it home and look for patterns.  For years it has looked like nothing but randomness.  But lately, Nate’s been feeling like he’s getting close to seeing something.

    Of course, he wasn’t expecting the pattern to be the phrase “Bite Me!” on the tail fin of a whale.  (See book cover).

What’s To Like...
    It’s Christopher Moore, so there’s wit aplenty.  But Fluke also has a serious message woven into the storyline.  Moore doesn’t get preachy, but he does want the reader to understand we’re driving a species of animals to extinction that arguably may be equal to us in intelligence.

    Not to worry, though – the humor predominates.  From their assistant, Kona – a Rastafarian, surfer-dude, white-boy from New Jersey, to the “old broad” who claims she receives messages from the whales (by telephone sometimes), you’ll have your share of LOL moments.

    There are lots of plot twists.  Moore keeps you guessing as to where he’s going with the storyline.  You won’t be able to anticipate it, so just read along for the ride.  There is some romance, but it’s balanced out by a slew of whale sphincter one-liners, a bit of cussing and a decapitation.

    To me, the ending could’ve been stronger.  The tension builds through the middle of the book, only to lead to a less-than-exciting finish.  But I pick at nits.

    “I have vodka and a shower in my cabin,” she said.
    “I have a shower in my cabin, too,” Nate said.
    Libby just shook her head and trudged up the path to the lodge.  Over her shoulder she called, “In five minutes there’s going to be a naked woman in my shower.  You got one of those?”
    “Oh,” said Nate.  (pg. 51 )

    “Elizabeth!  You’re not listening to me.  This is not about the whales singing to you through the trees.  Nate is gone!”
    “Don’t you shout at me, Clay Demodocus.  I’m trying to comfort you.  And it wasn’t a song through the trees.  What do you think?  I’m just some crazy old woman?  The whale called on the phone.”  (pg. 125)

“Most killer whales are just four tons of doofus dressed up like a police car.”  (pg. 191)
    Christopher Moore includes a neat Afterword section, in which he details which parts of the story are fact and which are fiction.  It was intriguing to find out that, with all our computers and rational thought, we still don’t know why the great whales sing.  Which makes the author’s hypothesis as valid as any.  Maybe.

    This is not your typical 100%-zany Christopher Moore offering.  But it’s still a good read.  8½ Stars.  Add another half-star if you’re a whale-hugger.

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