First off, I have to say I was “duped” into thinking this was finally the unabridged version of the book. I have a strong aversion to abridged books and probably would not have purchased this had I known it was not the complete work. Having said that, it was still a good listen despite the missing parts. If you never read the print version you probably won’t notice because the story is told in the style of firsthand accounts that are choppy by nature. Think Ken Burns doing a documentary on a worldwide zombie war. All-in-all it is a moving story that is less about zombies than the human spirit, good and bad.
The story is packed full of science-- biology, botany, physics, chemistry, astronomy-- you name it and it is in there. But it is not at all dull or tedious. You do not have to understand it all completely (a lot flew right over my head) to enjoy the story. Mr. Weir manages to make even rocket science a seamless, painless part of a good story. At its heart is a very simple story about survival under the most hostile and unnatural conditions imaginable. There is an astronaut stranded on Mars without enough food, water and air to last until a rescue. And rescue is extremely doubtful since everyone on earth believes him dead. On the “bright side” there are plenty of "70's sitcoms and disco music to keep him company. His struggle to survive and remain sane and the herculean efforts to save him are excellent entertainment.
I downloaded this book thinking it would be a haunted house story. It's so much more. I hesitate to say more because I would not want to give away anything. I'll just say there is a mystery that you will not guess. Not in a million years. The story is part science fiction, part horror, part thriller. I definitely wanted to finish it in one sitting.
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A long novel, set in a dismal future Thailand, there is no petroleum, all plant life is genetically modified and sold at high cost by the " calorie companies", computers are powered by treadle ( like old sewing machines), the world is full of tribes, and companies.
A fascinating view of the potential that our children's children may face if we don't make changes now, this novel was in dire need of a good editor before it first was issued in book form.
After a couple of slow first hours, I listened at one and a half speed and lost little I'm sure as the author spent chapters on, for example, a "Noe" fruit which I learned far too much about only to have it make no real difference in the plot.
But, it was fascinating to listen to the misery that people were living in, struggling to eat, living in dismal slums. The (former) US, which is now agro-corporations, hires these wretched people at minimal wage ( of course), enslaves genetically modified elephants for labor and is essentially the Ugly American.
The 3rd part, however, is much more exciting, and much of the plot is knitted together.
Jonathan Davis is an excellent narrator but he lacked the ability to keep his accents and names straight..one time a person might have an Asian accent, the next sentence he wouldn't. With all the Asian names, it can get a bit confusing for someone unused to the words.
Would I recommend it? Depends. It can be horrific to listen to, depressing and confusing but it IS a dark future novel, not one of peace and joy and life like Star Trek promised us on TV.
You'll have to decide for yourself if you want to spend a credit on an essentially depressing view of our future. I'm glad I did.