I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (fiction) - Brother Fish is almost 32 hours long. I would have rated it five stars had it been perhaps 12 hours. Maybe it's just me, but I find very few books worth a 32-hour investment. This book is character-driven and very well done. There are three main characters. Each one is likeable, richly portrayed and tells a detailed story of his/her difficult past. Jimmy is from the streets of New York. Jack is a poor fisherman's son, who grew up on a small Australian island. Nicole was born in Russia, then forced into surviving the dangerous streets of Shanghai. The characters' lives are partially intertwined because Nicole teaches Jack in school, then years later Jack meets Jimmy in a prisoner-of-war camp. Finally, the three work together as partners in a fish exporting business.
The book jumps between flashbacks and present day experiences and blends together well. A very large portion of the first part of the book is about Jimmy and Jack in the war and prison camps. There is lots of battles and suffering, with bits of Australian history and facts about the war with Korea. Then the book moves to Jimmy's early life as a gang member in New York and on a German tomato farm. Finally Nicole tells her story about her life as a young girl living in the Chinese underworld. Hers was by far my favorite. Wow, I would LOVE a book just about her! Throughout the book there were parts I enjoyed immensely, then other parts where I sped the listening speed to 2X just to get through. Much of the story is from Jack's perspective, so the narrator mainly speaks with an Australian accent and uses lots of Australian slang. As a listener from Texas (USA), I was able to understand the story completely, but there were many phrases which were unfamiliar to me.
PERFORMANCE - ABSOUTELY AWESOME! Performances like this make me wonder why I ever give five stars to others. Mr. Bower not only gives the characters their own distinct accent, but they have their own voice as well. There's Australian, German, Negro, Chinese, Irish, males, females, even singing. Just WOW!
OVERALL - This book is good, but I'd recommend only for people who are patient and willing to wait for a story to develop. I am NOT that patient. While this book is good, I was often frustrated and thought about giving up. I'm glad I didn't because the last ten hours were my favorite. While the F-word occurs occasionally, there is no actual sex during the book. There is quite a bit of violence, so I wouldn't recommend for younger listeners.
This was a surprise as I had not heard of this author prior to this book. It has a really good story line - ties things up a little too neat at the end but still a must listen.
I decided to download Brother Fish after having listened to The Power of One and Tandia and having thoroughly enjoyed both books had great expectations for Brother Fish. I was not disappointed, but must agree with previous reviewers that I did find it a bit tedious at times. I found myself becoming annoyed with the number of times (actually lost count) the full name of Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan was repeated but toward the end of the book the name was finally shortened to Nicole. I know she was a principal character, but I think her name should have been shortened sooner in the story. Humphrey Bower's narration is superb and without his talent I might not have finished this book. Having said that, I would not hesitate to read/listen to
other Bryce Courtney books.
While Humphrey Bower has done a wonderful job reading the book, as usual, Courtenay has not lived upto the mark -- especially when you compare this work with Power of One and Tandia. Those two books were simply awesome and left me with a great feeling after reading them.
Bryce once again shows his strong feelings against racism as in his first 2 books, which is appreciable. But the quality of the oveall story is no match to his first 2 books.
I dont think I will listen to this book again unless I am bored to death!
This is one of the best downloads in my two years as a member of Audible. Although the battle scenes were somewhat graphic and overlong, they set the stage for some amazing events. The character development is superb. I loved the reader as well as he was amazing in his ability to do Australian, British, Irish, and American accents.
An interesting story with lots of interesting historical facts. The narrator does an amazing job on this one. I recommend this book.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
This is typical Courtenay fare. We always get a character (or two) with a hard-luck beginning, tons of familial dysfunction and - after trials and tribulations - redemption. With this book there's at least 3 of those characters, depending on your definition of hard-luck. I would never have listened to more than a few hours if it had not been for one thing - Humphrey Bower. One of the characters is such a perfect fit for his expert narration that it saves the entire thing.
This book is too long by 25%, too repetitive and too fantastical to call it historical fiction. Courtenay has a way of picking up a phrase and beating it into the ground unmercifully for an entire book. In spite of that, it's a great listen just because of Humphrey Bower. Really. He's that good.
This book starts out as a 5-star book. In the last third it slows down a bit as the story of the third main character is told first person past tense. This part loses some of the energy and character development. Overall, this is still a very good book which I'd recommend.
This book has been on sale several times, and I've considered it each time. I like long books, if they're good, and this book had lots of good reviews. But then I'd read the blurb and tell myself that I don't like war stories and I don't like stories that span the globe, or fishing stories, etc. Well finally I told myself, "Just do it!" And I did.
I found myself absorbed almost from the very first sentence. It's very hard to explain why. I guess that's why the blurb didn't convince me. I don't know how to describe the plot without mentioning all the things that I "don't like," but those things are not what the story is about.
One thing is, when describing horrific war scenes and incidents of bigotry and other unpleasantness, it would be very easy to make the reader feel oppressed or weighed down by the story, and I'm really not into that. It didn't happen here. It may be due, in part, to the fact that Jacko is telling the story from a distance of 50 years. He was able to be a bit more lighthearted about it. That is not to say that he trivialized those things, but was more focused on the good that came out of those experiences. I felt confident that, though I didn't know what would happen, the man telling the story did, and it was all gonna be okay. I shed some tears, but then things moved along. I also laughed a lot.
For some reason, when I think about how the author described the horrors of war, it made me think of the Italian, Benigni film "Life Is Beautiful." There's really no similarity whatsoever, but in the film, the father is trying to make his son think that they are on vacation and not in a concentration camp. Without detracting from the awfulness of the situation, we are made to smile and even laugh at the father's efforts to keep up the spirits of his son. Other prisoners pick up on what he is doing and get in on the act, and, at least temporarily, have their own spirits lifted. Without that, it would be very hard to keep watching, with the knowledge of what is really happening. I got a similar feeling during the P.O.W. camp portions of this book. I suppose it's because of the way Jimmy was able to motivate the apathetic prisoners into taking care of themselves and each other.
But don't get the idea that that's all the book is about. The war ends, of course, and there is a lot of story to tell about the intervening years, as well as the years before. And it's interesting. I hated to quit listening to do other things, like sleep.
This was all helped along, of course, by the brilliant narration of Humphrey Bower. He was able to do a wide range of accents and voices, and he did them very well and consistently, and was still easy to understand. I don't need accents and voices in order to enjoy a book, but when they're done well, it's a beautiful thing.
So, it took me a long time to finally listen to this book, but I'm very glad I did. I highly recommend this book to just about anyone.