I listened to Relic over a couple of long trips in the car recently. I would describe it as Michael Crichton meets Sherlock Holmes, and the story is engaging.
However, the narrator, David Colacci, turns a good listen into a great listen. He makes the characters come alive. You love Pendergast, root for D'agosta, and want to see Coffee flayed alive. Colacci may be the best Audible narrator I've ever listened to. I was crushed to see the sequel, Reliquary, is narrated by someone else. AUDIBLE, DO US A FAVOR AND BRING BACK COLACCI AS PENDERGAST IN RELIQUARY!
Last, the conclusion to Relic is clever and caught us totally off guard. As soon as the book ended, my wife and I went back to the first chapter to pick up the clues we missed the first time around. An excellent listen.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
The narration is well done... characters are narrated consistently and distinctly.
The characters are fairly realistic and fleshed out but the story itself is pretty lame. I read scifi and thrillers/detective stories and thought this would be a blend of the two but it doesn't really hit the mark as either.
You have to accept the existence of a monster, which is fine. But you also have to accept that a museum would not shut down as soon as there were a series of atrocious and unexplainable murders inside it. Then you have to accept that a graduate student would be the "detective" and the "real" detectives more interested in... I'm not sure what they were doing, but they weren't doing any detecting.
I got this book on sale so give it 3 stars. If I had paid full price I would have been disappointed...
Thr3e and any of the Harry Bosch stories are better thrillers. Altered Carbon is a better blend of sci-fi and detective. Artifact is a better "monster" story. Now I just wish someone could point me in the right direction because this is audiobook number 4 in a row that I finished only because I had paid for them.
This audio novel was just the right blend of creepiness and science fiction. I was on the edge of my seat wanting to find out what was going to happen next. I particularly liked Dr. Frock and the revelation about the monser was intriguing. I'm picking up the sequel Reliquery.
SET REVIEWS TO BE SORTED BY 'MOST RECENT' INSTEAD OF 'MOST HELPFUL'!
I bought this book on the repeated recommendation of a friend, an esteemed colleague on whose normally solid judgement I can usually rely. During the first hour or two, I thought, "Hey, he was right! This is a pretty interesting little thriller-slash-museum mystery!" After six to eight hours, I was happily driving to and from work each day thinking, "Hey, this isn't great literature or even close to on a par with a really GOOD sci-fi thriller like The Girl With All the Gifts, or even 14 or The Fold or Ready Player One, but it's kind of perfect for driving or doing housework, because you don't really have to listen to it; you don't even have to care who's who or who's talking at any given moment; you can just sort of let it flow over you." By hour ten, I had long since mentally downgraded it from four stars to three, and was composing the title of my review ("Cheesy as Aged Camembert") in my head as I drove. By hour eleven or twelve, my husband had been making jokes for some time, wondering aloud just how long it was going to take this mysterious murderous beast to finally show itself and eat the brains of all these stuffy museum administrators. By hour twelve and a half, I had speeded the book up to 1.5 speed just so I could get to the end, see the big reveal, declare the book finished and move on. Then hour thirteen came, and I kid you not, I literally screamed "WHAT?!" In my car and rewound the chapter to see if perhaps the conclusion could actually be said to make sense.
It doesn't. Suffice it to say that I ought to have heeded those reviewers who pointed out the multiple logical flaws in the early chapters, such as a wheelchair-bound scientist who is independent enough to hold down a museum directorship and a full teaching schedule but too weak to push his own wheelchair; a journalist/author who is still conducting research and interviews for his in-house book on a museum's upcoming blockbuster exhibition--LESS THAN 24 HOURS BEFORE THE EXHIBITION OPENS; and outrageous caricatures of most law enforcement, managers and directors as clueless, self-serving and inept. Given these outrages, why should modern-day scientists willing to crazily experiment on and tinker with their own genetic structures in violation of all research ethics and common sense seem at all surprising?
Add to all this the author's tendency to drop his voice to a near-whisper for any female character or any character who is actually supposed to be whispering and you get the idea. Tinkering with the volume controls constantly while driving was maddening and was made worse by the sound effects, which were all the more bizarre for being so limited. It was as if the producer had found an old echo-n-static noise box in a closet and plunked it down in front of the narrator's mic, saying, "Hey, as long as we already own this, we may as well get some use out of it. Could you please just talk into this whenever a character is said to be in a tunnel or basement, or on a walkie-talkie?" I've never heard anything more preposterous in an audiobook. And the editing is abysmal; some words and occasionally whole sentences are cut short.
Much as my friend would like me to keep going and read further into the Pendergast series, I just don't think I can do it. I give this book two and a half stars, only because it was just interesting enough to make me want to finish it.
So much is wrong with this book; where to start? With the cardboard, cartoon characters, I guess. The museum honchos - prissy, silly, clueless. Seriously, they're more concerned about the bad publicity of having to postpone the exhibition opening than the fact that three grisly murders have occurred there the day before, and the unknown person/thing who did the killing is STILL THERE? The hot shot, pompous head of the FBI in NY who snidely dismisses southern FBI agent Pendergast, he of the honey-dripping accent that everyone thinks makes him dim-witted? We immediately know that these folks are in for serious humilation when the sainted Pendergast shows them for fools.
Then there's the narration. The reader is adequate when speaking in a normal voice, but his accents (an Austrian and a Scot sound like Col. Klink and the Gorton Fisherman, respectively) are laughable.
But maybe the worst part is the loud and annoying special effects - tunnel, walkie-talkie, etc. - that had me grabbing the volume control button repeatedly to avoid ear damage.
There was never the slightest sense of tension or threat as the plot progressed. I did get this book on sale, but it was still a waste of time and money.
After reading the Monster of Venice, I wanted to check out other books by Douglas Preston and came across Relic. After reading the summary , I dismissed it because I do not like supernatural-themed books. I bought it on sale, not realizing what I bought and almost didn't listen to it. But I gave it a chance and I really liked it. The authors are talented and the characters are interesting. They make something that is unbelievable, believable. The narration is good, too.
I was very glad when Audible offered this title as I've greatly enjoyed the rest of the series. While the story is good and captivating, it's not quite as good as the others in the Pendergast series. My biggest complaint, though is the narration. I've found the "special" effects added to the voices annoying and distracting -- the tunnel voice, the telephone voice, the intercom voice, the thinking to yourself voice. The voice being used for a specific character also abruptly changed on a couple of occasions. Overall, I'd give the story 3.5 stars and the narration 2 stars.
Are all New Yorkers stupid? This book would have you believe that officials in high places and New York's smartest high achievers all panic at the sight of a dead body and make 1 stupid decision after another. And that FBI supervisors are untrained with the emotions of tween-age girls. You have to overlook a barrage of unlikely and stupid choices to enjoy this book. POSSIBLY A SPOILER alert: And you will come up against another common pattern for this genre, where a clever creature that has maintained a secret existence suddenly has a death-wish at the time the book's narration begins.
If you are able to dismiss a series of unlikely events and characters with simplistic mentation, you will have nearly 2 hours of suspense and thrills at the end of this book.
Without wanting to spoil "plot" details, this reads as a highly contrived story with cardboard characters, and it's almost as if the authors were primarily aiming for a movie deal. There were several points in the story where you just have to say "..ah, come on.. give me a break!". Also, the worst Scottish accent effort by the narrator you are likely to hear. But light listening if you have something else to do at the same time.....
Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."
This is my second Preston/Child Pendergast book. I jumped in at Number 5 - "Still Life with Crows", and I was left scratching my head after that one. My final thought was "Huh?" i'm still thinking "Huh", but I would define that word as 'too many holes in the plot, too inexplicable, too implausible' But I loved the description of the town, and Dick Hill's audio performance was haunting. I am sure I will listen to Part I of "Still Life" again soon, when the leaves turn and are thrashed from their branches by the Santa Anas.
When I finished this "Relic", I thought "What if . . . " Not really likely (or probable), but "What if?" I'm still thinking that. The sense of place was intriguing, although sometimes a little hard to map in my mind. I remember the computer technology from the era discussed, and it's accurate. Yes, Virginia, computers used to have black screens and green letters - no other colors, no graphics.
That brings us to the audio, which is the worst that I've heard on Audible. The problem wasn't the difference between David Colacci (Relic) and Dick Hill (Still Life). It took me about ten minutes to make the transition, but I got used to it.
There were two major problems I never got over: the 'special effects' and Gilligan's Island.
Audio special effects are like text special effects - just because you can throw in 26 point Comic Sans into a paragraph of Times Roman 12 point text doesn't mean you should. It's jarring, messy, breaks the flow, and your reader will just ignore that comically blaring point you are trying to make.
With audio books, ust because you can throw in echoes and the sound of someone transmitting on a walkie talkie doesn't mean you should. That happened in this performance, and I wished I could have skipped over all of that. I would have missed part of the story, but it was that annoying. I would have rather missed part of the story than hear it.
I was willing to attribute the intrusive 'special effects' to bad editing and production - until Thurston Howell III showed up. One of the characters had THIII's voice, and I am not kidding. Every time Colacci performed that character, I looked for the Minnow, shipwreked on a beautiful beach.
I will listen to another Pendergast book, just to fix my bearings on this . . .