I used a credit on this one over a year ago. It sat in my library for a long time- so long in fact that I would have returned it without listening to it if I could have (time limit had passed) since clearly I wasn't going to get to it. I finally decided, hey why not.
I am so glad I did.
This was the surprise of the year for me, as far as books were concerned. Utterly engaging and believable. The characters developed well, as did the plot line. No forced culmination- everything fit and made sense based on the build up. That is not to say that the book was predictable- far from it actually.
It's funny, sci-fi, and horror, mixed into a solve the mystery plot line. Great characters. Just... believable, even with as out there as the plot line is.
The narration was fantastic. I'd listen to Ray Porter any time. I'm going to have to give Clines' other books a try, even though the ex-superheros series doesn't appeal to me on the surface. If they're as engaging and well written as this was, I can't see not liking them.
Is it the best book ever written? No. Is it worth a credit and your time? Absolutely.
I've listened to many books on audible and given five star ratings before. I'm going to have to adjust my grading scale after listening to this book. If this is the level of story a modern book can achieve... my god.
The best thing I can equate it to, without giving plot spoilers as others are, is Empire Strikes Back. Not in plot or delivery, but in that atmospheric brilliant success that is the example of the second episode not always falling short of the opener. This is such a sweeping and dark installment in a trilogy. While already set in a dystopian or I guess utopian (depending on your personal twisted perspective) world, Brown manages to hit an even more discordant note than Red Rising. Much more. In fact I'm still recovering from this listen.
The characters from Red Rising return, with some notable additions. The themes and concepts delineated in the first book are explored much, MUCH more deeply. Anyone who compares this to the Hunger Games or any of the scores of YA dystopia would likely compare their child's finger paintings to da Vinci. I weep for your soul.
Brown plumbs the depths of some of the most fundamental aspects of our humanity. What makes us... us? Is it our choices, our outward form? Is it our origins? Can we truly overcome our pasts or, more importantly, can we decide our futures? More troubling are the ruminations on the nature of evil; is it a static, constant thing, or does a slight switch in perspective change its visage? Each of the characters and the plot as a whole, reflects these questions. Unfortunately an answer is not readily available and we are left, intentionally I am sure, a quivering mass of raw emotion in Brown's wake.
While it may sound dramatic or grandiose, and is certainly personal opinion, I view this as the best book I have read in a decade. This book is worth a credit and 20 hours of your life. It will change you, carve you, in some measure. Whether for good or bad is to be seen.
This is a perfect example of why I refuse to even look at anything about a book other than the publisher's summary before listening to a book- especially reader reviews. If I had read most of the reviews here on Audible I would have had one of the coolest parts of this book spoiled for me. Seriously guys. Some of you are clearly the same people who would run around telling everyone that Vader was Luke's father or Bruce Willis was dead the whole movie. Learn to review without spoiling the plot. See below for an example.
So, Clines has done it again. I walked into it with such high hopes after listening to '14'; I was not disappointed in the least. This author can tell a story. Incredibly likable characters that show a lot of depth, even within the context of a sic-fi thriller. Geeky pop-culture references, fast paced story, and interconnection that will surprise you.
It is hard for a lot of authors to keep the lines of a complex sic-fi plot that focuses on multiverses and quantum mechanics straight, but Clines does just that. At no point did I feel lost or rushed. There weren't even any gaps in the plot line or inconsistencies. On the contrary, it melded seamlessly into a much broader story that Clines is clearly working on. It was that seamless weld that had me nearly giddy with joy and upped my reverence of the author- I am officially a Clines fan boy now.
The ending will be a bit much for readers who aren't in the 'out there' mood, but that's OK. Ray Porter did a tremendous job once more with the narration. Adult themes throughout, would probably get an R rating for language (primarily) and some violence if it were a movie.
I cannot wait for Clines' next book and hope, very much, that he continues down the path he has set.
Highest marks, absolutely worth a credit.