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Book Review | The Lost Five Days by William Petrick

January 12, 2009

The Lost Five Days
Web site for The Lost Five Days
Pearhouse Press, Inc.; November ’08
336 pages
Book #1/09
Challenges: ARC/New Authors
From Aamzon:

Struggling documentary producer Michael Burns has traveled to the remote Maya Mountains of Belize to capture exclusive footage of the last surviving curandero. The traditional Mayan healer may hold the key to discovering new medicines among the vast, uncharted flora of the rain forest. But with a violent civil war spilling across the border from neighboring Guatemala – and Burns inexplicably drawn to the aging curandero’s American apprentice – the filmmakers stumble into a more explosive story than they ever could have imagined. At once an adventure and an exploration into the nature of perception, THE FIVE LOST DAYS exposes the clash between modern culture and ancient beliefs

No Amazon ratings when this post was published.

Me: My initial attraction to this book was the Mayan culture and the possibility of a great adventure. For the past several years my spouse and I have vacationed in the Riviera Maya part of Mexico. We’ve had the opportunity to visit and explore some ruins such as Chichen Itza and Coba. Tulum is still on our to do list. This has sparked a desire to learn far more about this mysterious and fascinating culture but I digress from my review.

** This review contains a spoiler and I’ve issued an alert before you get there. **

This book has been promoted as adventure that runs into an explosive story. Yes it was adventure and at times these characters had a less than easy time of it but I didn’t find it explosive. Actually I found it all a bit underwhelming. Some parts that should have had me on the edge of my seat were the meetings between the film crew and Guatemalan Rebels. There are two scenes in particular that come to mind: one is where a character is clinging to life and another is left struggling is to save him; the second scene is where the rebels take the crew hostage and demand something of them that they can’t deliver. I found all this rather tame. I was waiting for the heart racing, pulse pounding, cold sweats terror that the characters should have felt with guns in their faces and their lives on the line but it never came. They simply ran into trouble, unemotionally dealt with it and moved on.

The parts I did enjoy were the sections written about the Mayan culture and their ancient belief system regarding healing practices, herbal medicine and the spirit world versus modern views and treatments. Though I myself am a recipient of western medicine I find the belief system of this culture and others like it to be totally engrossing. I was very interested in the Curandero, his connection to the Blanc Ethnobotanist, and his relationship with the villagers and the resentment direct toward him when he’s unable to save a child. I wish the book had spent more time exploring this story line.

** Spoiler Alert – This has to do with the ending of the book. Do not read any further if you intend to read this book **

Finally this book was a letdown and I mean that in the most literal sense. I got to page 349, the very last page, and it ends with a major character left standing in the middle of the road. That’s it book over. I read all those pages and invested my time to be left hanging, without an end, without closure. It’s like watching a movie where you come to the end ask ‘that’s it, that’s all there is’? I even went to so far to inquire whether I had a complete copy or not. The response: I did and that was the author’s intended end of story. Mind you I wasn’t the only reader to ask this question so take from it what you want.

Thank you Dorothy.

One Comment
  1. January 12, 2009 3:41 pm

    I agree it is a huge letdown when a book leaves you hanging like that. I don’t mind using my imagination to some extent but I like it to be at least sent in some direction while doing so. Wish the ending would have been better for you.

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