The Hollow Man by Dan Simmons

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Jeremy Bremen has a secret.  All his life he’s been cursed with the ability to read minds.  He knows the secret thoughts, fears, and desires of others as if they were his own.  For years, his wife, Gail, has served as a shield between Jeremy and the burden of this terrible knowledge.  But Gail is dying, her mind ebbing slowly away, leaving him vulnerable to the chaotic flood of thought that threatens to sweep away his sanity.

Now Jeremy is on the run–from his mind, from his past, from himself–hoping to find peace in isolation.  Instead he witnesses an act of brutality that propels him on a treacherous trek across a dark and dangerous America.  From a fantasy theme park to the lair of a killer to a sterile hospital room in St. Louis, he follows a voice that is calling him to witness the stunning mystery at the heart of mortality.

My impressions:

Even a brilliant author might have their creative ups and downs. For many reasons I consider The Hollow Man to be on the lower end of the entire Simmons oeuvre. Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoyed parts of it but for such a good author I think it was a weak book. Let me list my grievances here.

  1. Insta-love. Yes you heard me right. Insta-freaking-love between Jerry and Gail. I hated the fact that an available beautiful girl, roughly his age and the same intellectual level, was the first person with similar abilities the main lead met on his life path . Surprise, surprise – their unusual minds clicked in instantly. They chatted, they fancied each other and they went to bed the same evening. And married obviously. And were insanely happy. *rolleyes*
  2. A lot of luck. Yes, luck. Here fortune simply moved the plot forward and I hated every single moment of it. It seemed Jeremy had no free will of his own, just luck. The first two or three twists can be summarized like that: after the death of his wife the main lead, heavily depressed, goes fishing to Everglades and by chance he witnesses a murder. Then his fate is sealed as he meets a dangerous thief who is pretty squeamish when it comes to killing. BOOM – the thug takes him for a ride to a Disneyland, such is their karma, so his buddies can finish Jerry off. BOOOM, by serendipity Jeremy meets a group of ill children which make his life richer and allow him to escape. BOOOOM, he becomes an alcoholic hobo who has to be rescued by another hobo, an African American with a golden heart, and then BOOOOOOM, by a stroke of luck Jerry is rescued again, this time by a psychopathic farm owner called Fayette Morgan just to show us her cold store out of Hannibal Lecter’s wet dream…have you spotted the pattern? And so on, and so on till the very end.
  3.  Infodumps, even though they were interesting infodumps. Mathematically- inclined, clever, thought-provoking. Still my tolerance is limited and there were long pages full of information which could be imparted another way, especially by such a good writer.
  4. The ending. I don’t want to spoil anybody; let me just say I didn’t buy it.

Final verdict:

Meh, mister Simmons. One big fat meh. This one rings hollow and I don’t recommend it. I don’t like the cover either.

Rating icon. A hairless cat is wearing a santa hat and a sour expression. On the hat reads: meh.

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6 Responses to The Hollow Man by Dan Simmons

  1. blodeuedd says:

    That cover is just weird

  2. It makes sense but only after reading the book. I am not a fan of the cover art either but that is just a minor issue.

  3. heidenkind says:

    I love the cover!

  4. Melfka says:

    Well, it’s possibly his ONLY meh book (and not even a total failure!), so… he’s still my master! 😉

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