The Mosquito Coast – Paul Theroux

130520“In a breathtaking adventure story, the paranoid and brilliant inventor Allie Fox takes his family to live in the Honduran jungle, determined to build a civilization better than the one they’ve left. Fleeing from an America he sees as mired in materialism and conformity, he hopes to rediscover a purer life. But his utopian experiment takes a dark turn when his obsessions lead the family toward unimaginable danger.”

This novel haunted me long after I closed the back cover, so needless to say – I loved it. It’s like a dark and disturbing post colonial Swiss Family Robinson: part extraordinary adventure, part social critique, part family saga, part coming-of-age novel. Theroux maintains an amazing balance between hope and impending doom that kept me turning the pages. It’s as captivating as a train wreck – no matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t look away. This is a story about the hypocrisy of the American Dream, growing up, reconciliation (or not), grappling with fear and the past, utopia, power play, cultural and economic disparity, heroism, sanity, trust and family dynamics, captivity and freedom… I can see why it’s an old friend of the HSC list in the Extension 1 Elective: Retreat from the Global: I found it fascinating as a character study, a critique of Western values and globalisation and simply as a darn good story. I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

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