A group of adventure tourists head deep into the Rocky Mountains in search of a ghost town. The inhabitants of Abandon all disappeared at Christmas, 1893. Can the tourists shed light on what happened, or will the mystery of the town befall them too?
What Is Abandon by Blake Crouch?
Abandon is a reissue of a book published before Dark Matter. This probably explains why it doesn’t have all the science-bending stuff I have come to associate with Blake Crouch. Instead, it has more of a survival/western feel.
The novel sees a group of tourists (for want of a better description) being led high into the Rocky Mountains. They want to check out an abandoned gold mining town called…errr…Abandon. The town is a curiosity because, at Christmas over 100 years ago, all the town’s inhabitants disappeared without a trace. What happened to them is still a mystery.
Our story follows both the modern expedition and, through a series of flashbacks, the events that engulfed Abandon over on that fateful Christmas Eve. Things start to go wrong in both narratives and at their heart, both have the same root problem. Gold.
Why Read Abandon by Blake Crouch?
If you’ve never read one of Blake Crouch’s science fiction-leaning novels, I would recommend starting there. If nothing else they’re much geekier than Abandon. Their interesting physics and speculative fiction aspects make them more thought-provoking reads.
Whilst Abandon has all the hallmarks of a writer honing their craft, it still has much to recommend it. It’s an out-and-out thriller, but with the twist that there are very few technological shenanigans or explosive shootouts. Instead, we are treated to a meditation on the destructive power of greed.
Abandon does take a little while to reach its devastating conclusion. I wouldn’t have minded if the book was 100 pages shorter, but it is worth sticking it out for the ending which has a truly shocking twist (one of several), that will leave you reeling that the author actually did “that.”
The manner in which the two stories are woven together is very clever, as are the reasons for an entire town going missing without a trace. I had a nagging doubt that Crouch wouldn’t be able to pull off such a massive sleight of hand but he most definitely does.
On balance, the story set in 1893 is stronger than the modern tale. Whilst the modern escapade does have its moments, it relied a little too heavily on coincidence and implausible escape from certain death for my liking. As these two things are often key components of the genre, this isn’t a massive complaint, but they were annoying enough to make me feel the need to bring it up. The older story is more subtle and artfully constructed.
All in all, Abandon delivers on its clever premise, via some tight plotting and exciting action scenes. It’s not flawless, but it certainly is entertaining.
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I received a copy of this book in order to write this review.