This is one of THE most compelling books I have read in a very, very long time. It took me 6 or 7 tries to get past the first 30 minutes due to the narrator, but once the story thread is picked up, you just can't stop listening. The only reason I gave 4 stars is due to the narration. So, stick with it! As far as plots and storylines go, this book is a winner.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
Because of the number of negative comments about the quality of the reader I listened to the sample before downloading this title. It didn't seem so bad in the sample, but I admit that by the time I got half way through listening, I was worn out with a false southern accent of no known region that I'm familiar with -certainly not a North Carolinian sound. Worse, the cadence of reading one-word-at-a-time instead of reading sentences with comprehension and insight made it a difficult listen. I stuck with it because the story is worth it. I would strongly recommend it as a book, not so much as an audio book.
To read, to dream, to love, to experience, to aspire...
The last child is heart wrenching tale of a young boy searching for his abucted sister; of the dangers he faces while searching for her in dangerous places; and of thefriends and unlikely allies that join him in his search and his fight for surviving abuse and dangerous enemies encountered while protecting what is left of a mother unable to cope with the tragedy and who is no longer aware that he still needs her love and protection. If you ever wondered what happens to people touched by a heinous crime after the reporters leave town?; of how investigators forever haunted deal with their failure to find the victims? of what happens to the lifes of survivors that have no closure?, of if a decision can forever change the life all those touched by a tragic event?, of what is the value of one child's life measured against the future of your own child? of what is the "right choice" if you question where your loyalties lie? So if you ever wonder about those questions then you will like this book. I for once did not guess the complete solution which made the book even better.
I really enjoyed The Last Child. This murder mystery rollicked along with interesting characters. Amazing how many bad things can happen in one little Southern town. My only negative was that I found the narrator some how distracting for the first few hours. Though it takes a fair dose of willing suspension of disbelief, it is an engrossing story. A good listen for the car.
I enjoyed this book very much on a long car trip. I didn't have any of the troubles that other reviewers had with the reader's diction and style. Other than a few "again's" pronounced with a long "a" he read very well, particularly the vocal changes for the various characters. The plot is complex and engaging without being difficult to follow. It was a good companion for the trip.
As much as I enjoyed this book, I will never listen to another audiobook read by Scott Sowers. After a short time his narration was like nails on a chalkboard. It was all I could do to finish. Fortunately John Hart wrote a great book despite the horrid narration.
There was a point when I started to toss this book in my digital DNF file. It was a little over six hours into Part 1, about the time when Johnny was having a dream about his sister and snakes. No, not because snakes are creepy, but this was when I first started to hear Scott Sowers going way overboard with his enunciation. All of a sudden I noticed that every syllable of every word was spoken distinctly, dipthongs became two syllables, and normally elided letter sequences were broken into their component parts. The was never a thu and never an uh.
It started distracting me more and more. I went back and listened again to early parts of the book and heard a trace of the odd speech, but nowhere near as overwhelming.
I soldiered on, trying to keep up with the story. But I was paying more attention to Sowers' narration than to the book. In fact, there was one body unearthed during that odd period of narration, and I have no idea how the guy was killed, so distracting was Sowers' performance. I looked for some sort of explanation for this curious change in narration. Something in the story line, requiring special pronunciation? Something about the characters, maybe an astral influence? No. Nothing.
From somewhere early in Part 2 onwards, Sowers' accent started sounding more and more normal, or normal for one doing North Carolina. By the end Sowers was back to form. In fact, he did a superb job capturing the despair of one of the young boys in the story, as he pleads with his friend for understanding.
I thought Sowers did an excellent job of capturing North Carolina in "Down River", and said so. Since that book was released two years before this one, I assume it was produced first, so I have no idea why Sowers would still be messing around with an accent he had apparently mastered.
Anyhow, was the book good? You bet. I started off prepared to not like it when I discovered the protagonist was a 13 year old boy, thinking this would wind up a modern-day Hardy Boys treatment. Time went by, however, and I started getting into it. Yes, you have to suspend disbelief to buy into some of the things Johnnie does, but in the end it all works very well.
I do wonder if John Hart has read much of Kathy Reich's Temperance Brennan ("Bones") series? If I remember correctly, it sometimes takes Tempe hours to determine just the sex of a body that's been buried for a few years. John Hart's medical examiner does sex, age, and maybe cause of death, all at a glance.
I started reading John Hart with "Down River" because it won an Edgar. That was one of the best books I have ever read. This one had the potential, but Scott Sowers' strange changes in accent and enunciation dragged it down for me.
Rarely do I rate a book a five. But this one deserves it. Good character development ... lots of twists in the story line. I was sorry to get to the end. I got so involved in the characters, I find I want to know more details about how they got past all the tradegy.
Very well written with a multifaceted storyline. It is nice to read an author who does not feel he has to portray lurid details in order to paint a vivid picture. I highly recommend this book.
...one of the few I have ever given up on without finishing, not because the story was so bad, but because the narration was annoying. Perfect diction is not the most important consideration...in fact too much precision can set your nerves on edge and is many times accompanied by an emotionless tone.