*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Rise up.
Take the next handhold. Stretch your fingers as far as they can go. Hundreds of feet above the ground, don’t look down. Keep climbing.
There are dinosaurs nearby, hiding in the cracks and holes of this ugly mountain wall. New Profanity Peak, they call it. These nightmarish creatures may remind you of the mass shooting you survived and your dead friends, but don’t stop moving. Keep pushing upward. Rise up.
Memorialize your fallen friends.When the big wall reduces to smooth glass, dig deep. When it shows you an impossible overhang, find a way around it, but hurry. Dimorphodons are called the Wolves of the Sky for a reason.
Climb faster. Claw your way out of that deep dark pit in your soul, the one that knows the truth about the mass shooting. Don’t slip. Don’t fall. Don’t. Look. Down.
And rise up.
This is the second of Doug Goodman’s ‘[…] With Dinosaurs‘ books, but the stories stand completely alone, so you don’t need to read Backpacking With Dinosaurs first (although you should still read it… it’s very good!)
Here, the author takes the very modern fear of school-shootings and juxtaposes it with the very ancient fear of man-eating dinosaurs to great – and horrific – effect. The different sources of terror actually blend very well together as despite the difference in setting and method, both fears invoke a very primal response and both involve being hunted.
It is clear that Doug Goodman knows his stuff when it comes to rock climbing, as this story is packed full of technical climbing details and fascinating insider knowledge into the sport. Brady and Travis, twins, the main characters, are pro-climbers and are on the last leg of a mammoth memorial climbing tour in honour of their classmates who died in a terrible shooting incident years earlier.
The narrative is split between the dangers of the current climb – in a dinosaur ‘park’ that has been closed to the public since some unfortunate people-being-eaten events previously – and flashbacks to the traumatic incident of their past – what led up to it, what happened during the attack, and the terrible, long-lasting aftermath and its effects on the survivors, physically and emotionally. Both storylines are full of danger, fast-paced and keep the reader’s adrenaline pumping, but there is also a more thoughtful, philosophical element to both narrative strands, as the twins attempt to make sense of the horrors before and behind them.
My only minor quibble with the whole story is the role of the cameraman, Lachlan, who seemed to be perpetually exempt from any meaningful role in the story throughout, and appeared untouched by the dangers and dramas besetting them at every turn. Still, this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story, as the focus is on the brothers’ journeys, not that of their chronicler.
This is a story about surviving trauma, about the bonds between brothers, the thrill of conquering one’s fears and overcoming one’s disadvantages. It is a story about never giving up hope, continuing to strive against life’s challenges, keeping on looking for that horse.
It is also a story about man-eating dinosaurs – super cool and very scary!
Listen, I know death. I’ve been around it more than anybody my age should ever be. Same goes for Brady, although he hasn’t died since our birth / death twenty years ago.– Doug Goodman, Mountain Climbing With Dinosaurs
This is a book about life. Crazy, tragic, mean-faced life that my brother and I turned into something beautiful and meaningful. We laughed at least twice as much as we cried, and we never stopped pushing ourselves.