Thursday, August 26, 2010

My take on: The Tourist Trail

I confess, I am guilty of judging books by their cover. The cover of The Tourist Trail is quiet and unassuming. A bunch of penguins coming out of their perches in the ground, doesn't scream "ADVENTURE" to me. Glad to know I was wrong.

Biologist Angela Haynes lives in her own little world. She spends her days at a research station--The Tourist Trail-- in Patagonia counting and observing the behaviors of penguins. Angela lives in a world with little human contact or deep human relationships. She has a crush on a colleague, Doug, but chooses not to act on it because he is younger.

Her only real connection is with a male penguin--Diesel. But even Diesel manages to find a mate, leading to pangs of jealous for Angela. Her bubble is about to burst when mysterious animal activist Aeneas appears. Having been labelled an "eco-terrorist," Aeneas is on the run not only from the law, but most of all from FBI agent Robert Porter. The charismatic, and equally volatile Aeneas has developed a loyal following through his group, the Cetacean Defense Alliance (basically they don't like whale poachers). But his group has gone beyond the normal boundaries of protest. Resorting to violence, arson and murder--all in the defense of animals.

Early on Aeneas comes off as a zealot, but his interactions with Angela offer a softer side to him. He helps her care for the penguins, and develops an understanding for her connection with Diesel. Angela initially fights her attraction to Aeneas, but the enigmatic man is too much to resist. She heads off with him on a ship to Antarctica, with Robert on their trail.

Robert is looking for redemption, having let Aeneas slip through his fingers before. While undercover as "Jake," Robert lets his feelings for the beautiful Noa, cloud his judgment. As Jake he can do all the things Robert can't--be carefree and take life as it comes.

The book lost me a little bit in Part II, which is when we are introduced to Ethan. The young computer programmer has fallen in love with Anna--another CDA follower. It took me a couple of chapters to realize the author John Yunker had gone back in time. After being invested in Angela, Aeneas and Robert, I thought the book was shifting focus. Angela is completely absent in Part II, but Part III sees the return of all the characters.

The conclusion is filled with action. Robert's relentless pursuit, and it's conclusion are very suspenseful. I was trying not to speed through the last 30 pages, but I wanted to know what happened. I won't give it away, but it is very satisfying. The story is told from the point of view of Angela, Robert and Ethan. I was surprised, that Aeneas didn't get a turn at-bat, but the different points of view offer a complete picture of him. Angela's view is one of love, confusion and at times fear. With Robert, Aeneas is that old foe he can't get rid of. At first Ethan fears Aeneas, but even he can't resist the charm. Author John Yunker's own experiences travelling to Patagonia, Norway and Antarctica served as the inspiration for The Tourist Trail. If you don't already, you will come away from this novel with a better understanding for nature.

Rating: Superb

Notes: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. For more information about The Tourist Trail and author John Yunker visit: