I had only read bag of bones and liked it enough to try another, I'm now hooked. This was a great listen, I did find the Vietnam parts a bit long winded and repetitive but the other stories were simply magic, the interconnections were great. My favorite King so far ( well thats based on two :).
I have long considered Stephen King an underrated literary author, and this book proves me right. Here he is at his literary best - stories of depth and insight that define great storytellers.
Hurt's narration is slow at the beginning, and takes getting used to, but it fits with the slow summer days in Bobby Garfield's life and picks up right when it needs to. And King, as always, is simply brilliant reading his own work.
I have recently become an audio book junkie. It started about six months ago when I got an Ipod and began listening to books rather than music on long car trips and plane flights. I came across the Dark Tower series by accident and was hooked from the start. The original narrator Frank Muller was amazing! He brought the story and the characters to an almost living state. Unfortunately he suffered a motorcycle accident and could not continue the series after the fourth installment. It was carried on by George Guidall whose voice was a bit too old and lacked the range to convey the story as Muller had portrayed it. (Although it was still the most captivating story I have ever heard.) Anyone familiar with the Dark Tower series knows that a lot of the characters have connections to other Stephen King novels, "Hearts in Atlantis" being one of them. I began this story with great expectations only to turn it off after three minutes due to the horrible narration by William Hurt. It honestly sounded like a stoned college kid mumbling through a book he was half heartedly paying attention to. I tried to start it over several times through several days thinking it couldn't be as bad as I remembered, but it was! I will save myself the agony and read the book myself. It's a shame because Stephen King is listed as a co-narrator and the stuff I've heard him read was really quite good. I just can't put myself through the long pauses halfway through a sentence (or a word, name, page turn, whatever), the monotone and partially confused sounding voice, and the loud intake of breath which comes every few seconds. Big disappointment.
First of all, the first quarter of this book would probably be a great story if it weren't for the painfully poor reading by William Hurt. If Hearts in Atlantis where read by anyone else with more than a sixth grade education it would have made this book more exciting, easier to suffer through, and the entire book would be about 5 hours shorter. Another reviewer likened the reading to a pot smoking college student. I agree with that analogy. This reading is rife with long unnessesary pregnant pauses. Many sentences are read slowly and deliberately with each word enunciated as if it had to be read before any consideration for the remaining words in each sentence, and then entire sentences and paragraphs become one word. There is excited emphasis in places where there should not be, and dull droning indifference where there should be excitement.
After the first portion ends, Stephen King becomes the narrator and you think,.... "thank goodness, a break from this incredibly bad reader. Unfortunately, the story becomes a dull mostly meaningless tome about several college students flunking out of school. Nearly none of the rambling has anything whatsoever to do with the story, and is very mundane. I did however, suffer through the whole thing, thinking that it would all be relevent in the end. I would say 85 percent of it was boring and superfluous.
I will suggest, if you are an extreme Stephen King fan you listen to the portions read by William Hurt (beginning and end), and skip the entire portion read by King. Be forewarned, it will be diificult to overcome the dreadfully poor, slow reading.
If I where to summarize this dreadful reading in a word it would be.... dissapointment.
I must say that most of this book is good as in the first story and the last few stories in part 3. Part 2 however, from where which the title was taken is stellar. I really dont even mind King's narration -- while not as spectacular as Frank Muller, King's narration adds an essence of reality to the story being told in my opionion. As with most King novels you are not roped in at the very beginning but throughout Part 2 events/emotions keep tieing together completeting a wonderful symphony of a story by the end. Really moving adding a sense of realism that many novels do not achieve. I can also say wonderful things about part 1 -- but being a fan of The Dark Tower books and as my views may be biased on that note I will not comment. The third part of this book ties up the loose ends from parts one and 2 so while necessary for some, others could do without. I was not drawn in with the same magic as the First 2 stories in this book. These last stories seem cut and pasted together in a manner of speaking.
Overall -- Even if for the second story alone -- I would Recommend this book. In all reality the first 2 stories are excellent. Even the writing within part 3 is good -- just not stellar.
Two Thumbs Up Overall
This has to be one of the most memorable books I have listened to. Hurt is good King is good. I probably liked King better....It's his story.
Sadly, I may never know how this story ends. I can't believe no one has mentioned the horrid narration job done by the otherwise excellent actor, William Hurt. I could not make it through Bobby's story having to listen to William's heavy breathing and nasally flat delivery. He also seemed to rush through parts of a sentence and then pause in all the wrong places...Considering his reputation for perfectionism, I'm surprised he was satisfied with the results of his work.
I love King so I hope to read this eventually. Maybe, if it's re-released with a new narrator, I'll give it another shot. In the meantime I can dream about an unabridged version of The Stand.
This has got to be the absolute worst reading of a novel I have ever had the great misfortune to experience. I can't believe Mr. King approved the release of his book in this condition. With the ill timed and exceedingly long pauses, loud, hissing deep breaths, inappropriate inflections in his voice and the general disinterested, flat, monotonous tone with which he read, William Hurt, truly ruined this novel for me. He did a great disservice to Mr. King, who is a fabulous writer. The story may have been good, in fact, I am pretty sure it was quite good, knowing Mr. King's reputation and having read many of his novels, but I was so distracted by the lousy reading that I just gave up listening. I guess I'll have to read the book before I can pass judgment on the actual story.
I do not recommend this audiobook based on William Hurts performance.
Fist the good. The first story is great. Puts you into the 50s America where the Crimson King is up to no good. Good characters and read very well by William Hurt. It's comparable to insomnia as the storyline goes.
Now the bad. Everything after the first story is filler. All about college and war and nothing Stephen King. Maybe it's because I wasn't 18 during the Vietnam War but I don't understand his motivation to write this and put it out for his readers. It's read by Steven King... so if you like his voice you're good. If you don't than stop after the first story.