10.19.2017

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin



This book was about 40% cheesy adventure fiction, 40% cheesy romance, and 20% the kind of expedition read that we love. It's honestly unfortunate too because I was VERY excited to read it after seeing the movie adaptation listed for the TIFF festival this year. I was also VERY excited for the movie adaptation, and to save you the trip, that was mostly garbage also.

The premise of this book is that a journalist and an orthopedic surgeon are trying to get home amid a huge storm, all flights are grounded, and they decide to team up and take a charter flight to try and beat the weather. Idiots right? The weather doesn't kill them but the pilot does have a heart attack and the plane crashes in the middle of this disgustingly massive mountain range in what look like abominable temperatures. This is not a spoiler, it's how the book starts.

Charles Martin looks like a bit of a serial killer am I right?


Ben (surgeon) and Ashley (journalist) attempt to make their way to an industrialized area, as well as the pilot's dog who also survived the crash. There are all sorts of troubles, such as a vicious mountain lion, Ashley's broken femur, a lack of food, etc. I loved these parts. As sickening as it may sound, I love to read about people on the verge of death. Super lucky for them- Ben is a bone surgeon and miraculously re-sets/splinters Ashley's leg, as well as an avid hiker and he had all his supplies with him on his trip! This includes a compass, portable coffee machine, a bunch of narcotics, and plenty of thermals.

I did not consider that this book could be a romance, but that's exactly what it was. The book flips between Ben and Ashley in the moment on the mountain, and Ben reflecting on his relationship with his wife via recorder. There are full chapters of him recording messages to her, and recounting their time falling in love, etc. These parts were just alright for me. I may have been more into them had I not been trying to speed read to get back to the parts on the mountain. 

There's also a hint of a romance story between Ben and Ashley, which I chalk up to Stockholm Syndrome. Ashley is engaged and trying to get home for her wedding (which she misses), but there's still a weird chemistry that they sort of half-acknowledge. I think this makes complete sense since Ben is literally pulling her for weeks through a mountain range and spoon feeding her. I would definitely be thinking he's the greatest hero in the world also and for sure be trying to hook up with him. 

One of my favourite pieces of the novel is that at many points they discuss leaving Ashley behind. Ben would be much quicker without her and could potentially come back with help for her. This would be a hard decision I'm sure but for me it would be quite easy. Leave me. Just reading about their distance covered and how hard it was on their bodies was giving me PTSD from our hiking trip in Fundy, and that wasn't even cold. Anyways, Ben decides each time not to leave her behind, remembering all the times he watched The English Patient with his wife and how she kept yelling at the TV when he leaves her behind. I found this quite charming since I love The English Patient and the plots to movies help make major decisions for me as well. 

Idris Alba and Kate Winslet as Ben and Ashley (renamed Alex) in the movie adaptation



One thing this book was lacking is a major fight/freakout. They sort of half-ass one in the movie but I wanted a big blowout where one blames the other for getting them into this and they sob and admit they're going to die. If you've ever seen the movie Backcountry, you know what kind of mental episode I'm talking about. Even on our stupid hike Meg and I blew up at each other... she told me it was all my fault we'd gone in the first place and I told her to stfu and we were silent for the first time in our friendship for about 10 whole minutes. It's human nature. Rather, in the book, both characters maintain this sort of fake/humorous camaraderie where they pretend they're ordering fast food, which is not realistic AT ALL. I would be crying 98% of the time and begging the other to kill me. I told my boyfriend he'd be dragging me in a sled even if I had two perfectly good legs to walk on because I wouldn't be going anywhere. Even more than hating to be scared, I hate to be cold, wet, and/or in pain. 

If the worst is a possibility, then you keep it on the table. Don't hide from it. Don't run. It can happen. And if and when it does, you need to have thought about it ahead of time. That way you're not crushed when your worst thought becomes your reality."

A few unrealistic elements about the novel: 
  1. All the gear they miraculously had with them
  2. The amount of things that an injured man was able to fashion with broken plane parts (a sled and boots for the dog)
  3. The amount of exercise they both were able to perform in such high altitudes on ~2 almonds a day. 
There was a twist ending which I really appreciated, as it sort of made the entire story less cheesy somehow. If you start this book and hate it, I maybe recommend reading until the end. Maybe.

I'm sorry... where did all this winter gear come from?




With regards to the movie adaptation, I was incredibly disappointed. Firstly, the casting was incredibly strange as I find it odd for Idris Alba and Kate Winslet to want to star in such a dumb film. Before Idris Alba, it was MICHAEL FASSBENDER they cast to play Ben. Did they not read the script??? They also made a lot of subtle plot changes, which included bringing the romantic relationship between Ben and Alex to fruition. This ruins the twist to the end of the novel that I actually enjoyed. The worst part of all is that they put god awful eyeglasses on my precious Dermott Mulroney and almost ruined him for me forever. What is most telling is that my boyfriend fell asleep in the theater and I took two bathroom breaks. The dog, however, was way cuter in the movie- a big, fat, yellow English lab. 

I guess what I've been trying to say is that I didn't like this book or this movie and I don't recommend either.


1 comment:

  1. Haha, even before you mentioned the English Patient, I was screaming (internally) the same thing: DON'T DO IT!!! RALPH FIENNES WILL TELL YOU!

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