This book had a lot of potential but I just found it exhausting with so much detail on things that didn't move the story. Too many observations and metaphorical thinking. I just stopped caring about what happened to the characters.
Interesting story idea, but horribly written. Sooo slow, repetitive, and drawn out. Had this not been in audio book form, I would have never gotten through it. Even so, I nearly quit many times. Don't waste your money/time.
The reader, who has a wonderful voice, read the whole book sadly. It is read as a sad book, but I don't think it is necessarily so. The text clearly has its redemptive moments, but the reader doesn't really express them. As a result, I found it hard to keep listening. The story is so emotionally intense that I really needed the highs and the lows, together, to sustain me.
Personally, I thought that the author did a disservice to blindness: he uses it as an allegory for anti-sociality, apathy, corruption, etc. Which, ironically, 'blinds' us to actual blind peoples' experiences in society. So, read knowing the author is an anarchist and take it as you find it.
Additionally, the reader needs to diversify his female voices--they all sound the same, slightly simpering, slightly too soft (slightly insulting to me, as a women with a full vocal range). This problem (of having one voice for all female characters and many voices for different male characters) is present in a lot of audio books, so I don't mean to single this reader out particularly. But for a book with such a strong social message about the way we 'see' or 'don't see' particular people, the homogenized female characters bugged me. The author wrote the book without giving any of his characters names, so perhaps a more accurate reading would have given the same voice to ALL the characters...?
I read this book for the thought experiment, as imagined by a skillful author and social critic. Worthwhile thinking material.
The prose was to strained and dear. I found the concept intriguing but grew tired of every character having a description instead of a name. Blind people still have names. If I had to hear "dog of tears" one more time... A rare case of me liking the movie better than the book.
I wish I had never heard of "Dog of tears".
I haven't read anything else by this author, and perhaps it's the translation that is to blame, but wow -- what a tiresome and self-congratulatory book. Practically every observation is followed by an analysis of just how profound the observation is. That would be bad enough, but overall the observations were not very insightful. (How many times, for example, must we discuss at length that a blind person might use the work "see" in a manner that is not literal?)
Unlike some of the readers commenting on this book I like dystopian fiction. The fact that the book is dark and depressing is not the problem for me. And I think the plot is an interesting one, so that's not the problem either. The execution is the problem.
As for the reader, I thought he did a good job considering what he had to work with.
I truly hated this book. It was written to be disturbing. If you like hopeless, depressing books that give you nightmares this is the book for you. I think listening to it was probably worse than reading it because you couldn't skim. Characters have no names, few redeeming characteristics and no hope. Avoid it!
Jose Saramago is an ok writer. I was hoping for more though. What an interesting concept. Jonathan Davis did all he could to save it, but eventually the book fell flat. Perhaps it is the translation that kills it. I found the same problem with 100 Years of Solitude.
the original idea of the story is fascinating.
His performance was fine, the book just didn't have enough to compel me to care.
No. You'll be hard pressed to finish this book, I wouldn't waste my time with another translation.
The development of the plot was initially Intriguing. The book even kept my attention through about the first hour of the incarceration and exploration by the blind. Then it became as stale and reeking as their living environment. I wish some of the negative reviews had been available before I had purchased this sad book. It is simply too tedious to slog through the second half.
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
Such a disappointment. I don't know if it was the translation, but I doubt it. I have read a lot of Spanish lit and am usually ok with its pedantic and preachy tone, but I found this book nearly intolerable. I can't claim to have spent any time, myself, finding out from a blind person what blindness is like, but it seems unlikely that Saramago checked any of his assumptions about blindness with actual blind people. They are portrayed in the most insulting and inhuman ways in this book. They wait for the one sighted individual in the story to help them with everything from cleaning their own bodies to providing entertainment. "If only there were a working radio" laments one character over and over, as if going blind has also stopped her from being able to sing. And don't even get me started on the public health aspects of the story. The idea that a doctor would wait overnight to report a possible epidemic of blindness to the medical authorities is ludicrous, that people would immediately be quarantined and abandoned without sanitary facilities, food, water, etc is absurd, and that only one person would be untouched by such an epidemic is ridiculous. There have been much better books exploring the breakdown of society because of nuclear or biological catastrophe, if that was what the author was attempting. I would recommend "A Canticle for Liebowitz" by Walter M Miller, "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood,"Dies the Fire" by SM Stirling, "Speech Sounds" (short story) by Octavia Butler.
Some folks found the book thought-provoking as a parable of man's inhumanity to man, or blindness standing in for our isolation from one another, but I disagree that this was a parable. For an actual parable about blindness, interested readers should check out the fabulous play "En la ardiente oscuridad" by Antonio Buero Vallejo, in which the blind really do lead the blind. Now, THAT'S a parable.