More than 75 years ago, five Nazi scientists embarked upon an expedition into the frozen Himalayas in search of the origins of the Aryan race. What they found instead was something beyond their wildest imaginations--a secret they would sooner take to their graves than risk releasing upon an unsuspecting world.
Now nearly a hundred years old, Johann Brandt, the lone surviving member of the original party, shares his discovery with Jordan Brooks, an evolutionary anthropologist who launches his own expedition into one of the most dangerous environments on the face of the planet in search of the evidence Brandt claims to have left behind.
If Brooks and his team hope to find the proof, they'll have to follow the historical footsteps of the Germans into the hunting grounds of a species that evolved in utter geographical isolation, and their only hope for survival lies in uncovering the truth about the ill-fated Nazi expedition...for those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
©2014 Michael McBride (P)2015 Michael McBride
Avid reader and chronic procrastinator, I bide my time voicing & producing podcasts, and lurking on Facebook, Twitter, and at my site.
DISCLAIMER: I received this copy in exchange for a review.
WARNING: This review contains mild spoilers.
There is a great deal to like about this novel. It contains some of the usual techno-thriller ingredients: Nazis, esoteric science, the Yeti, and long, lost Tibet. If you were to judge it by those alone you might well say, "Meh." However, it's how these ingredients are mixed that gives this novel its unique flavor.
In 1938 Nazi scientists brave the Himalayas in search of the Master Race. They fail. Or do they? 75 years later the sole survivor puts together small team of four extraordinary scientists to retrace his steps and unlock the secrets of the next phase of human evolution.
The plot unfolds in parallel tracks; present day, and via journal entries from the original expedition. McBride does an outstanding job of interweaving these story lines. It's never cluttered or confusing, in large part because the journal entries are written in period style. The language and word choices harken back to the 1930s, giving the reader a clear delineation between what has happen, and what is happening.
The plot and universe remind me of Niven's "Protectors" series. To be sure, this is a techno-thriller and not hard science fiction, but I felt teased by the similarity of the elements.
The audio production is very good. There were a few wah-wahs indicating some not so seamless edits and the audio was a little muddy in places, but not distractingly so. I only noticed because I was listening for it. Scott Thomas has a gift for excellent character voices, particularly the aged Johann Brandt. His pacing and stylings enhance an already taunt and charged atmosphere.
McBride did an enormous amount of research for this novel. The explanations of the sciences embraced and the history used serve to inform and heighten the story's drama and tension. He accomplishes this by distilling complex ideas into readily manageable chunks. The reader surfs on a wave on information and isn't buried under a tsunami of facts. At least, initially.
Regrettably, the info dumps do get tedious. At one point I was shouting "Out with it already!" For instance, I didn't need to know the number of tattoos on the priest's face, or their arrangement, or their native name, symbology, or significance. Having all that information didn't move the plot along one bit. Is was a distraction, tying back to nothing, and dragging at the pacing.
This is a plot driven story, and the plot is engaging. It moves rapidly and constantly. As with many plot driven novels, the characters suffer. Most of them are stand-ins with no unique personality or depth, and could have been replaced by almost anyone. The character building lags behind the plot development and drags at the story.
The two stand outs are Brooks and Brandt. Brandt in particular is very well developed. A paragraph with the 95 year old survivor of the initial expedition leaves you feeling like you need a shower. Brooks is his foil, young and enthusiastic, but not so naive as to believe everything he is told.
About four-fifths of the way through the story, love unexpectedly blossoms like a weed between Brooks and another member of the expedition. It felt forced, and like so many of the info dumps, could have been excised without troubling the main plot one little bit.
The outcome of the story felt like it had been pulled out of a top hat. It was an abrupt about face ending. It's possible that it was foreshadowed so cleverly that I just missed it, however I felt like I'd not just been fooled, but suckered.
I know it sounds like I'm nitpicking, but that's all I'm really left with. The bulk of the novel is crisp, well written, and fascinating. So, despite any of my reservations, if you enjoy a rollicking techno-thriller this is a book you'll want to read or, in particular, listen to.
Definitely because it's the type of book that you could read again and again and discover new things about it.
I loved how much the author put into the story. It's well written and developed and the amount of detail was amazing.
Age old secrets collide in this thrilling story.
This was such a great listen. I started it and honestly had a hard time putting it down. It had the recipe of a great book anyway, Nazis, Himalayas and an expedition! Well I'm so glad to say that the author more than delivers.
The author puts so much into the story and it showed. The amount of detail and the vivid descriptions were amazing. I loved reading the scenes from the forest because it felt like I was there. He described them so perfectly.
The characters were all well developed and written. The plot was extremely fast paced and is told from the present and through a journal from the past. It was fascinating seeing the story unfold in both times.
In all a tense and thrilling read. I thought it was heading in a certain direction but the author threw in a twist that left me reeling. The whole way through I was on the edge of my seat and couldn't wait to see where it was going.
The audio of this was fantastic. The narrator did an amazing job of voicing the different characters. He drew me into the story and made it that much more enjoyable. I'd highly recommend you listen to this!!
Good story, good narrator, kinda slow at first but still awesome!
Not sure, Burial Ground by the same author, even though it's not the same at all.
Nope, first one.
I could have if I'd have had the time.
Fantastic narrator, Thomas does voices and accents very well.
I would recommend to friends who like a thriller/monster story.
It has some themes reminiscent of the file Seven Years in Tibet
I think the scenes where the protagonists make stunning realizations while in Nepal.
It was a bit long for that. But it would work well as a marathon (I guess a long drive?) listening.
Sometimes I felt as if my layman's understanding of evolutionary science and its attendant anthropology left me a bit behind where the author expected.
Say something about yourself!
McBride's Fearful Symmetry kept my interest through to the end. While I tend to be a fan of lighter fare, the narrator, Scott Thomas breathed life into the characters and paced the story excellently.
I'm a long haul truck driver that fills my drive time with listening to audio books and reviewing them.
Great story that makes you really question what we know about the evolution of mankind
I own 494 Audible Audio books. (See my Stunned Look) That can be a good or bad thing. Either way I'm always entertained and enlightened!
A lot of the terminology was a little to difficult for me to understand at first. It definitely left me curious and wanting to know more about genetics. Isn't that What good fiction should so though, make us thirst for more?
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audiobook and would happily recommend it.
I thought the plot was very good with great twists.
This is the first narration I have listened to by Scott Thomas, however I will certainly be looking out for more.
I am a wee bit over the half a century mark in years. I enjoy audiobooks,cats,rats and most days my family,not necessarily in that order!lo
This book was really good! It was on the lines of Michael Crichtons' style of writing.A thriller with suspense,'monsters' and science.What more can you ask for?It was well written.The characters were likable.The narrator,Scott Thomas,was perfect for this book.I was gifted a copy for an honest review.I honestly loved it!
Check out more detailed reviews on my blog amiesbookreviews.wordpress. com
FEARFUL SYMMETRY: A Thriller
Author: Michael McBride
Type of Book: Audiobook - Unabridged
Narrator: Scott Thomas
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
* I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an unbiased review.
As World War II was ramping up, five Nazi scientists embarked on an expedition into the Himalayas in search of the origins of the Aryan Master race.
What they found instead was something they could not have imagined, even in their wildest dreams.
Now nearly a hundred years old, Johann Brandt, the only survivor of that expedition has decided to share his discovery with Jordan Brooks.
Jordan is an evolutionary anthropologist and if what Brandt has shown him is real, he knows it could be the discovery of a lifetime.
Jordan launches his own expedition following in Brandt's historic footprints. With the benefit of modern scientific knowledge and superior tools, he hopes to discover an entirely new species.
What Jordan and his colleagues find will challenge their view of the world as they know it. They have some decisions to make. That is, if they survive.
I don't think my synopsis does this book justice. I enjoyed every minute of this audiobook. It is a non-stop roller coaster ride that will have listeners on the edge of their seats.
Narrator Scott Thomas does a truly spectacular job. He is able to voice not only American characters (both male and female) but the voice he uses for Brandt (the elderly German) sounds authentic and believable.
Because of the science in this book it could have become overwhelming to the listener, however once again, Scott Thomas does a superb job of making even scientific information sound compelling and interesting. His pacing and tone of voice allow the listener to immerse himself in the story.
This book was the first novel of Michael McBride's that I have read and I will definitely be looking forward to reading more of his books.
The fact that this story comes across as scientifically possible is part of what makes it so terrifying. Are we as humans the final evolution of our species? Is it not the very pinnacle of arrogance to think that our species is the best it will ever be? History has shown us that all species continue to evolve and adapt. Therefore it would be ridiculous to assume that future generations of people will not change at all. We just have to hope that future changes are for the better and not for the worse.
This book will stay with you long after the final chapter. The ideas this book is based on are food for thought. For this reason, I think this would make a good book to choose for a Book Club. It would definitely generate quite a bit of discussion.
I rate this book as 4out of 5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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