Author: Sean Michael Hayes
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 3 Stars
If you enjoy a fast-paced read and a true story, Five Weeks in the Amazon is the book for you. It’s packed with humor, full of unexpected twists and there is never any way to know how it will end. Author Sean Michael Hayes has written a book in a similar style to current blockbuster success, Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”. His adventure puts him face to face with universal problems that we all must overcome in life. His search is a desperate attempt at something he has fought for since first being diagnosed with depression–how to live a happy life.
Hayes presents solutions which seem like wins not just for himself, but for the reader that’s right there with him. Want to find out what happened to a backpacker that hiked alone into the Amazon jungle and live with a shaman? Buy the first edition now.
WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
I don’t often read memoirs or other non-fiction works. They are a difficult genre to review. I can’t rate a memoir like a fictional story, the characters involved are as they are presented and can’t be judged on their complexity or the pleasantness of their personalities. So going into this review, keep in mind that I’m limited on what I can rate on a book such as this.
As far as the technical aspect of this book goes, the book was decently written. There were a few typos, missing lines, and added words, but mostly these were inconsequential. The book did drag for me in the second half, but I realize that there is only so much that can be done about pace when the topic of the book is mostly the existential wanderings and philosophies of self-awareness being described by a man on a drug-induced vision quest.
To be honest, the book wasn’t what I expected, and certainly not what I thought I’d picked up. It may be my own fault for not reading the description thoroughly, but I thought I’d be reading a book about a man who went into the Amazon jungle looking for adventure and didn’t come out for five weeks. That both is, and isn’t what this book was about. I expected tales of being lost, surviving on foreign wildlife, maybe some near-death moments of adrenaline… instead, I got a tale about a deeply depressed man who met all sorts of strange people, did a lot of drugs, and who spent the better part of five weeks self-analyzing himself while hallucinating.
Though interesting, the book wasn’t what I’d expected, and I don’t think I was in the right mindset to enjoy it as thoroughly as I may have had I been looking for what this book actually was. I got bored at parts. I couldn’t relate to the drug use. It just wasn’t something I was interested in. Still, it made me think, and even if the book wasn’t what I was looking for, I do think it taught me something and I am glad that I read it.
I think if you are looking for a little self-introspection, you should give this book a try. If you’re looking for an adventure story about the Amazon, you may want to keep looking. This was an adventure, and yes, it did take place in the Amazon, but not in the way you are probably expecting.