The Hike by Drew Magary is one of the most random books I’ve ever read but that randomness doesn’t cover an excellent theme about the hardships of life and what is really important. Ben is a regular guy with a suburban-like life, a wife and kids, and a job that sometimes he has to travel for. On this trip he stops at a hotel in Pennsylvania and decides to check out the wilderness with a nice afternoon hike on a trail. This trail leads him through the countryside and he is surprised to see beautiful homes out in the countryside and a path that leads him to beautiful sites. When he comes across a man with a dog’s face, dragging out the corpse of a girl, Ben’s journey on the trail becomes something that Ben nor the reader will ever forget. The rest of the book is this fantastic romp through many different random scene changes and circumstances that can never be telegraphed by the reader.
At times this book is one part fantasy and another part horror. The things that Ben comes in contact with are fantastical but also gruesome. Magary latches on to the idea that anything can happen at any moment and goes off on random tangents. At times I feel that Magary is doing his best to conjure Lewis Carroll. I would definitely put this book in the same category as Alice in Wonderland. This randomness all works because there is a theme that connects everything that happens in this book. This theme comes up because Ben is reminiscing about his actual life. We learn that Ben has a family and children that mean a lot to him. Through his “hike” he realizes just how important that family is to him. Soon, this hike that Ben is on morphs into our own journeys in our lives. We all have randomness happen at times, things that we have to deal with that come out of nowhere, but it is our loved ones that ground us and make life worth living.
I really enjoyed this book, it was a quick read, and had some great thematic ideas. I’d like to read more of Magary’s work and see if he is able to replicate this deeper message. I think that connecting to how Ben feels in this story is integral to enjoying this book. If the reader simply can’t connect with the theme in this book, then it is going to seem pointless and a bunch of random occurrences for them. I caught onto the theme rather quickly and I think that helped me enjoy this book tremendously.
16/25 Possible Score
3 – Plot
3 – Characters
3 – World Building
3 – Writing Style
4 – Heart & Mind Aspect