Spellbinding adventure story of a family that rejects its homeland and tries to find a happier and simpler life in the jungles of Central America. The motivation comes from the father, Allie Fox, who is a character in the classic American mold. A cantankerous inventor, he is articulate, shrewd, scornful, funny, very angry, and slightly cracked. An individualist, Fox sees modern American culture as a despicable combination of the wasteful, the immoral, and the messy. Uprooting his family from their Massachusetts farm home, he takes them off to a primitive world in order to escape what he considers the imminent breakdown of civilization.
The Mosquito Coast has the fascination of an ironic version of Robinson Crusoe or a sardonic Swiss Family Robinson, along with the deeper levels akin to those of The Lord of the Flies. As a sheer teller of tales Theroux is at the top of his form, but he also succeeds as a moralist with a subtle fable in mind.
The story is told with fresh innocence by the fourteen year old Charlie, who observes his father with a mixture of love, horror, and astonishment. He describes the voyage, the trip into the interior, his fatherís invention of a giant ice-making machine (which is supposed to bring a new era to the jungle), and all of the adventures that ensue. Charlie watches as his father becomes ever more obsessive, evermore lost to reality.