THREE CUPS OF TEA Review -- Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a TimeThree Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

EDIT: Just so you guys all know, the word "Mortenson" is in the text a total of 1,943 times. That's right. 1,943.


What I wish to do so badly to this book.

0.5 of 5 stars

Before I get started, I just want to say that no review I could ever write ever would ever portray how much this book sucked for me. To me, Three Cups of Tea is the perfect embodiment and representation of the most tragically horrible book I've ever read.

In fact, for you today, I'm going to make a list of the 10 most tragic things in Three Cups of Tea.

The 10 Most Tragic Things In Three Cups of Tea (Not in Any Order)

1: The Stilted and Pretentious Writing

Don't even get me started on the atrocious writing. Relin is the worst possible person anyone could've ever chosen to write Mortenson's story. In fact, if someone else would have written the book, I probably would've enjoyed it a lot more. It may even have been a three-star read for me, if it wasn't written in a horrid and stilted manner. Relin describes every single thing down to the last detail. I specifically remember an entire scene dedicated to the entire biography of someone completely irrelevant to the book at all, some climber woman who was really brave and all that crap. Another two chapters were backstory and DIDN'T ADVANCE THE PLOT AT ALL. (No wonder it took me 83 days to read this book!)

The prose of the book is more purple than Barney, and I think that speaks for itself.

2: The Pacing

This book wasn't exciting at all. I felt in no way excited to read more; in fact, I couldn't have cared less. As I mentioned in the first section, Relin writes detail of every single thing (and I'm not kidding), like it really mattered what color hat his guide exiting the mountain, Mouzafer, was wearing and how many scratches it had and how long he had it and how he recalled his experiences of getting it every time he put it on. Okay, that might have been a minor exaggeration.

*snickers* I jumped up, cheered, and giggled maniacally when I was done and realized I didn't have any more hell to go through before the summer was over.

3: The Blatantly Hyperbolized Heroism

And by that, I mean how Relin writes Mortenson to be completely pretentious and how he writes this aura of perfection about him that makes him seem like Jesus descended to Earth and decided to build schools for poor and starving Middle-Eastern children. By the time I got to around page 100, I finally found Relin detailing something Mortenson wasn't good at, and I was relieved that he really wasn't the second coming of Jesus like Relin was brainwashed to believe.

If you're reading this:

Dear David Oliver-Relin,

Mr. Gregory Mortenson HAS FLAWS.

Please get this through your thick skull, since it's obvious Mortenson didn't write a word of this.


a Frustrated Reader.

4: The Length

Three Cups of Tea is 125,000 words. For those of you who have no idea how long that really is, it's longer than Twilight. Yes, it is FREAKING LONGER THAN TWILIGHT. I'm sure if the editor of this book had any common sense, it would've been condensed to AT LEAST a maximum of 85,000. So much of this book was just extended detailing and backstories that really had no relevance to what was currently going on. I really didn't care about Marina at all; I didn't care that his throat clogged up and his sexual organ swelled every time he saw her, and that he was talking to his Balti friends about her and about how beautiful she was. Did it have anything to do with the schools being built? I'll give you a hint: the answer rhymes with the word "HO" (which happens to bring Marina to mind), and it starts with an N.

5: The Lack of Reference to Balti Language

In the entirety of the book, there is a lot of Balti language used, especially in the beginning when he's adjusting to life there. The Balti words are nearly always italicized (i.e.: Inshallah), but I'd say only 1/4 of all the Balti words are defined in the text, either right next to the word or in the sentences/paragraphs that follow. Google helped me a lot over the course of the book when I actually cared about what they meant because I thought they'd help me later on. I don't even remember what my example word above means. That's how scarce definitions of the Balti language was.

6: The Sentence Length

I'm gonna get this out of the way: most of the sentences in this book wouldn't even fit in Goodreads status updates, I shit you not. Goodreads status updates can be up to 420 characters. Whole sentences are commonly over that length in this book. It'd be a HUGE pain in the butt to read aloud. I don't think I've ever read a book in the history of my life that's this stretched out.

I mean, seriously. Even the very last paragraph of the book (which is one sentence, people, and it's in #10) is completely stretched out and seems strangely perpetual and confusing and dramatic when it's not. It seems like Relin tried to create a cute ending and failed miserably (look at all those freaking commas!)

7: The Fabrications

Three Cups of Deceit  How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way

Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way

These should be self-explanatory.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I would've enjoyed this book more (maybe a lot more) if I didn't know most of it was false. Knowing this makes reading it seem pointless. Why would my English teacher assign something completely fabricated and horribly written for me to read over the summer when she could've chosen much better alternatives that actually have character and aren't filled with cheesy metaphors?

I've heard the previous years' choice was Lord of the Flies, and at this point, I welcome that book in with open arms.

8: The Word "Mortenson"

The main flaw that arises in writing this book in third-person is how many times the main character's name is referenced. I mean, seriously, you couldn't have called him Greg? Just reading the name "Mortenson" after reading this book makes me shudder and feel sick to my stomach.

I actually think this book would've been better had it been written by Mortenson; the prose would've been much less purple (maybe a nice, subtle shade of periwinkle) and I'd have been able to escape the dreadful "Mortenson" that appeared at the beginning of each paragraph. I put this book on the shelf "prose-is-purple-as-barney" for a reason.

This just in: the word "Mortenson" appears 1,943 times in the text of the novel. That's right. Be warned.

9: The Painful Metaphors

Relin needs to obliviate the word "metaphor" from his vocabulary, because it doesn't truly enhance his writing, but instead makes it laugh-worthy. I write better metaphorically than him, and I'm 14 years old. Metaphors like a storage space "smelling like Africa" and the night being "bitterly crystalline" (things which still don't make sense to me) can be eliminated. Being as I, along with many others, have never been to Africa, I don't think that first metaphor should even be usable. Maybe the editor just gave up and decided he/she was done with this atrocity. (I honestly wish I had that option somewhere along the line of reading this.)

10: The Last Paragraph

Tell me, have you ever read anything more screwed up grammatically than this?

"Mortenson put his hands on the shoulders of Sadhar Khan's brown robe, as he'd done a decade earlier, among other mountains, with another leader, named Haji Ali, conscious, not of the gunmen still observing him through their sniperscopes, nor of the shahid (a word not defined) stones, warmed to amber by the sun's late rays, but of the inner mountain he'd committed, in that instant, to climb."

Can someone just shoot me now?


-The end, because I knew it was over and I wouldn't have to turn another page in it again.

-Haji Ali. Anyone who says "Sit down and shut your mouth. You're making everyone crazy" to Greg Mortenson deserves my utmost respect.

-The line "Sheeyit! Bitch ain't got but two dollars."

The story, in certain parts (a.k.a. Tara's childbirth, things that take place in America, things I can understand, things that don't have italicized words taking over the pages), was cute enough to make me give this book 1/2 a star out of sympathy.


Below, I'm going to include some memorable status updates of mine and some snapshots of margin notes:

Status Update 1: ""With his ear for languages, Mortenson soon had a basic Balti vocabulary." This is what I'm sure Relin meant by this sentence: "With his astounding ability to do everything he desired, including his outstanding ear for languages, within days, Mortenson was magnificently able to develop a large and complex vocabulary of the Balti people, which he was able to speak flawlessly." That's what the rest of it is like..."

Status Update 2: "'The snout of the Baltoro Glacier lay at the bottom of a canyon, black with debris and sculpted to a point like the nose of a 747.' Really? 'Like the nose of a 747?' I don't think anyone knows what that is. I think 'like a G6' would be more relatable to modern society."

Status Update 3: "Wow. If I look past the glaring errors and factual mishaps and exaggerations and over-detailing and overused words and complete and utter bias and misused adjectives and inexplicably long sentences and blatantly hyperbolized heroism and tragic characterization, this isn't bad!"

Status Update 4: "This book has Irrefutably Biased Syndrome: "If Mortenson had known how scarce and precious sugar was to the Balti, how rarely they used it themselves, he would have refused the second cup of tea." Which, of course, is blatantly insinuating that Mortenson had the manners of a saint and was completely acceptable with leaving the sugar to the Balti. Relin is inferior."

Status Update 5: "Okay. In nonfiction, don't quotes have to be exact? There's no freakin' way Mortenson remembers everything everyone said as if it were five minutes ago."

Status Update 6: "Finally! Something Mortenson's NOT good at! *forehead wipe*"

Status Update 7: "Why does he keep going back and forth between America and Pakistan? You'd think the airfare expenses are dwindling away what little he has left of his savings. Not a very smart investment, if you ask me."

Status Update 8: "I'm going to start calling you Morty. "Dear Morty, I didn't pick this book up by choice, but if I did, I wouldn't have picked it up to hear about the prosperity of your love life. But thanks for sharing (NOT). Sincerely, A Disturbed Reader."

Status Update 9: "'Mortenson arranged to go back home and see his wife, Tara, whom was expected to deliver their first child within a month. He gets kidnapped by misunderstanding people. Mortenson is rescued by kind men who arrange a party thrown in his occasion and who give him money for his schools to be built.' That was the value of the entire twenty-page chapter. Literally. And you wonder why I hate this book?"

Status Update 10: "Aw! That was a cute scene. (That's probably all the positive you'll get about this book.)"

Status Update 11: ""'I promise,' Mortenson said, adding the burden of another vow to the weighty collection of oaths old men kept making him take." That might just be the most clever line I've read thus far."

Status Update 12: "Dang! Morty just reached into some chick's uterus."

Status Update 13: "Chocolate would help right now. Chocolate always helps."

MARGIN SNAPSHOTS: Photos Taken of Memorably Cruel Comments

View all my reviews


English said...

i would just like to comment that if my students actually read a book they hated as in-depth as you have, i would be delighted.

oh! and read more krakauer, he has a journalistic style of writing, but i enjoy it. read 'into the wild'...seriously, i love it.

Harishna Barti said...

I just want to say i think you are a pompous little prick with no sense of adventure, no imagination and probably, judging by the over exagerated way you have ranted on about this book, not very many friends. I think you made a few fantastic points on the literary stance but seriously, if you couldn't understand what Relin meant when he used the metaphor "the storage space smelled like Africa" then I guess I can understand how you missed the whole point of the book. You are trying to detract from the achievements of someone who no one can really deny has done amazing things in unbelievable circumstances, perhaps unbelievable being the key word as you seem to find this hard to believe despite the heaps of documented proof on his achievements.

KreagReads said...

Excuse me, "Harishna", but calling him names and saying that he has no friends is beyond wrong. He is entitled to his opinion, that is the reason he created this blog. You have your opinion on the book , but you calling him a "pompous little prick" doesn't really seem like you are talking about your opinion of the book. When I come here to read reviews on one of my personal favorite blogs, i don't understand why i have to read comments from people like you just come here to belittle people and try to make them feel bad about themselves. And then you go and tell him part of his review is good while still belittling him. What!? I don't see your name linking to any blog, so i can't find out if you review books or not, but honestly, i bet you have had a negative thought on a book or two, and i doubt anyone has gone and called you a name because you simply did not like a book. Maybe next time you go to comment on something, think twice about how you are going to go about it, because I'm not the only person who will stick up for someone who is here to tell us what they think about books. They don't deserve these attacks from people like you- no one does. So, go on and read what you want to read, but don't go and call people names because their opinion on what they have read is different than yours.


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