I absolutely LOVED the first two books in this series. So when I started listening to Absolution Gap it was with great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, it was within the first few moments of the book that my hear began to sink...
1. John Lee: John Lee has been consistently excellent as a narrator not only in the first two books of the series, but in a myriad of other books. WTF, Mr. Lee? VERY POOR CREATIVE CHOICES. Narration was inconsistent. He COMPLETELY changed the accent and delivery for one of the principle protagonists of the series...jolting, without apparent rational, and just plain terribly upsetting. So much upsetting I figure Mr. Lee simply MUST have taken creative direction from someone other than himself...he's been just so good in everything else he's read its the only thing which can explain such a awful showing.
"One more time with a bit less affect, Mr. Lee..."
2. Where is this train going? The plot is almost incomprehensible and contributes almost nothing to the larger themes explored in the first two books. Ok, I appreciate I may not be the brightest candle on the cake, but I'm hardly neophyte in the genre. Again...just terrible. A metaphor, perhaps? as another review pointed out/ If so, its a key in the hull of an upside down fishing boat on Easter day.
3. Put the ending first! The entire story wraps in just a few pages...it would have save me a lot of a grief had the book been presented in reverse order. Forget that...shame on me for suffering though so much junk instead of just flipping/scrubbing to the end.
Do I sound over the top? Does my frustration seem irrational? I mean, for pity's sake, its only a BOOK, right? Well, what can I say? I'm a huge an of both the author and the narrator and neither delivered. And, because I loved the first two books, I felt a PRISONER for most of the 27hrs of this book, compelled by hope, until the very bitter end, that THINGS WILL GET BETTER IN JUST A FEW MORE MINUTES...WE'LL TURN THE CORNER YET!
Instead, we just went over the rails and off the cliff.
I'm a technician that does a lot of driving for his job. I use the "windshield" time to listen to audiobooks.
Here's the thing, it's almost as if Alastair Reynolds got tired of writing this series. He pretty much wraps up the series with a brief epilogue. Alastair could have easily written a whole book which covers the just the epilogue.
I would try another book by this author, I think this was a hiccup in otherwise good sci fi. But pigs in space, seriously? add to that some guy who founds a religion requiring giant cathedral/tank cities to slowly plod over the planet in sync with a moon so it can be witnessed to dissapear now and then is just all kinds of silly.
You will be promised a space battle between an advanced alien race and humanity for three long books, and the was will be covered by a couple of paragraphs in the very last chapter of the last book. Also, you will be told how important each of the main characters are, and how important the mission they are on is, but they are not important and do not resolve anything. I waited 3 books for the space battle, and was sorely disappointed. Ultimately these books felt like all the boring in between parts that authors like Peter F Hamilton skip.
Mr. Reynolds creates a fascinating world, with interesting characters and ideas. Unfortunately he left me disappointed in his story telling ability. As with the book before it, I'm left feeling like he got bored writing the book and in the end just looked for the quickest way to wrap things up. Major parts of the final story line are summarized instead of lived, leaving me abruptly set adrift, and disconnected from characters he spent so much time building up.
If you enjoy Sci-Fi entertain yourself with the incredible world which Alastair Reynold creates, just don't prepare yourself for the abbreviated ending.
This series has completely changed my standards for good science fiction, raising it to a level I think will be difficult to meet. Absolutely fantastic. Great story, imaginative hardcore science fiction elements, believable characters. I'm going to have a hard time finding it's equal.
If you're a fan of the series, I have bad news for you. The story of the inhibitors in concluded here, but's it's the worst resolution that you ever could have imagined. Arbitrary ideas are invoked to justify arbitrary actions which lead to an offscreen resolution and an epilogue which immediately makes the whole thing pointless. It's the worst kind of bad. It's heavy and self indulgent, tedious and non sensical with barely any characterization, a plot seemingly made of holes and inconsistencies and an ending so awful it retroactively ruins the whole series. Avoid it like the melding plague.
Generally I'd give John Lee 5/5, but he did something really strange here. He took one of the main characters and turned him in to a yank. Why did he do that? He otherwise does a great job of keeping all the character voices straight. When I read part of this in a book store before I bought the audio book I didn't read Mr Pink as always threatening and nearly out of control, it didn't add anything in most places. He's still one of the ways I will search for good stories.
Mostly I like these books, I do find them engaging. But at times the man needs an editor with more backbone. I started using the skip feature on the player to jettison 30 second lumps of BS description or fake tension. Of course he's going to do the right thing, if he doesn't the story is over. *skip* still blathering and gnashing teeth *skip* nope *skip* ah, there we are, story resumed.
But the end? What the hell? You can't just go through sixty or seventy hours of story and then say "then magic happened and they all lived happily ever after" (if they survived). What is this? There was a book missing between this and the last, this resumes with "while we were away those left behind discovered magic" and it ends with a bunch of people we never needed to meet dead. No reason for the bad things to happen at the end. The whole of the last book is really a waste of time. It did not need to happen or be followed, for the plot to work. Mr Pink would already have made the right choice, probably.
The personality of a couple of key characters and some of the group dynamics change to focus more on the drama of inter-personal politics. In situations where it would have been action stations, it's now let's have a meeting to discuss... literally... I'm not kidding!
After over 7 hours of waiting for it to get better, I have given up and am returning this book.
My recommendation is do not waste your time.
The minutia of what made Revelation Space and Redemption Ark good are still present, interesting ideas, vivid characters and good voicing.
Reynolds sets the bar enormously high in Revelation Space, with Absolution Gap he does not quite go far enough in answering all the questions and implications. At several of the key moments in the book, decisions almost seem to be made because the author needed them, not because the characters did. Compared to Reynolds characters of the RS and RA this was a bit of a disappointment.
The listening experience was enjoyable, as was the process of wrapping my mind around the possibilities presented by Absolution Gap. To those on the fence about listening (or reading) this book, my advice is still to check it out.