Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Travel Narrative
Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words
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A native of England, Bruce traveled around the world on his bike. Besides the obvious (adventure, challenge, etc) he was also raising money for a charity, the SOS Children’s Villages, which is the largest organization of its kind in the world, providing homes for more than 78,000 orphaned and abandoned children in more than 124 countries.
You can find out more about Tom and find a link to the site for his charity on his website.
Tom Bruce set off on his bicycle from his home in March of 2011 with a goal to cycle around the world. This is the story of his adventure.
The title, Every Inch of the Way, comes from Tom Bruce’s self imposed rule for his trip. He had to ride every inch of land from sea to sea across each land mass. (Obviously oceans and seas required assistance.) There are several things I hope to get from a book of this type; the sense of adventure, a feel for the logistics of such a trip, and both the highs and lows, for a start. What the different places and the people who live there were like (both the similarities and differences from the author’s previous experience and personal norms) are also on my list.
Much of what I was looking for was there, to a point. But sometimes it fell short. Midway through I made a note that every new place couldn’t possibly be “the most beautiful” he’d ever seen. It felt like he was using this in an attempt to get across that a place was incredibly beautiful. Different words to say so might have accomplished that better. The same thing goes for describing his condition after a long, hard day. The word of choice was shattered, which was a different usage of that word for me, although easy enough to understand and certainly correct. However, throwing in an exhausted, burnt-out, stonkered, half dead, or any other reasonable word meaning about the same thing some of the time would have been good.
I would have expected the kind of things mentioned in the last paragraph to have been eradicated as part of the editing and proofing process. I also found a lot of typos and other errors that should have been fixed later on in that process. Another issue was inconsistency in describing things that are measured numerically, specifically money, distances, and weights. The rule here, at least in my opinion, should be to pick one as the standard and stick with it. Telling us the price of something in the local currency is okay, as long as we’re also told the rough equivalent in whatever the standard measurement is. Instead we’ve got pounds and pence in one place, dollars in another. Kilos and pounds for weight. Kilometers and miles swapping back and forth. The worst instance of this is illustrated by this example, where we get both:
Due to this, I was struggling to reach my 100 kilometre daily target. My old 85 mile target was now a bit ambitious so I’d lowered it to the minimum distance that would get me to Trabzon on time.
If he used either consistently the reader would adapt, regardless of what measurement they use day to day. But randomly switching back and forth is a problem. Here, no matter which distance measurement a reader normally uses, getting a sense of how much less his revised goal is than his old one is going to throw them out of the story. (If you’re wondering, 100 KM is about 62 miles, or 85 miles is around 137 KM.)
In the end, I’m torn. This is one of my favorite kinds of books to read and Bruce’s trip was unique, traveling through places and having experiences that were different from what I’ve read before. But unless you’re looking for a steady diet of this type of travel-adventure book or have a high tolerance for less than stellar editing, you might want to look elsewhere.
UK spelling conventions, word usage, and slang.
A large number of proofing and copy editing issues.
Rating: *** Three stars