“The jungle grew darker and more mysterious. Bugs seemed buggier, and the trees almost seemed alive. The sun was like a blazing ball of fire in the sky. Strange little birds hovered over the flowers, stabbing them with their long, pointed beaks. Sinister rock formations appeared on shore and even reached up out of the water. I guess that’s where Hawaii got its famous nickname, “Land of a Thousand Nightmares.”
The narrator is cajoled by his friend Don into taking a trip to Hawaii. While planning the trip, the travel agent gives them a treasure map to find the fabled “Golden Monkey”. So the narrator and his friend set off. They land in Honolulu, a run down town full of prostitutes and vagrants that always smells due to the reef made of dead fish heads, the local stink bomb factory, and the abundance of bealchwood trees. After spending a couple nights in town, the narrator and his friend head up river and into the jungle in search of the Golden Monkey. On their journey they encounter numerous local tribes, mad scientists, vicious wildlife and pirates. They fend off blow darts, hungry alligators, rogue insurance men, and every other threat imaginable. And every time, the narrator only makes things worse. His stubbornness, poor social skills, and tendency to wander off continually lands them in hot water. It will be a wonder if they not only survive the journey, but each other’s company.
This book was terrible. Terrible. I know it was supposed to be satire and humorous, but I don’t think I laughed once. Every time I picked it up, I was like “well, let’s get done with this stupid thing.” The main character is an overwhelmingly unreliable narrator who is like an adult version of Amelia Bedelia, taking and saying everything literally. And he causes trouble and destruction everywhere he goes. The book was written in such a “out of left field” way that I found it frustrating, it seems so dissonant to me. The concept of deglamorizing paradise did not come off as sardonic and funny, I found it to be very stupid. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone—it’s going right in my donate pile.
This book qualifies for my “The wilds” bingo square: The majority of the book is set in the jungles of Hawaii.