I loved this book. The narrator was top-notch, and the story was engrossing. I found myself worrying about Jason at odd times during the day and night, when I wasn't listening to the book. There were also some really memorable phrases, the kind you hear, stop the the player, and think, "I've got to remember that one."
Especially in the second half or so of the book, the narrator really shines at doing all the voices, from the odd accent of old Madame Cromerlinck to the Gypsies and the horrid gossipy vicar's wife.
This is an enjoyable audiobook. Very easy to listen to, excellent narration. We've all been in similar situations to those encountered by Jason. We can all identify.
Just a really great story and easier to follow than Mitchell's other work- Could Atlas. Of the two, I preferred this one, although both are beautifully written. On the surface the story appears straightforeward, but then makes strange turns. I generally dislike literal novels and prefer immersive fantasy, but this was some of both.
Narration was spectacular. Right up there with Simon Vance.
David Mitchell combines beautiful subtle appreciation for the vagaries of human life--and in this book, the vagaries of smart adolescent life--with more than a touch of political correctness. For example, given that it's the 80s, it fits that Jason's mother would be flexing her newly found feminist powers. But to throw in an object lesson about how terrible it is to be prejudiced against gypsies, or the little homily about poetry not having to be beautiful--maybe we could have skipped that. And maybe instead the book could have given glimpses of what his father was going through, since the structural tension in the book was created by his loyalty to an ex-mistress and his attempts to save her. But all in all an immersive read and there's an Easter Egg in there for fans of Cloud Atlas.
What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger.
Great way to view how life would be for a young person that anyone can relate to.
It captures adolescence, and is at the same time appealing to any story lover
He sounds young and captures different accents nicely
I had just read this book six months earlier, but when I heard the audio sample wanted to buy it and listen to it anyway. They've chosen the ideal reader for this book: his accent is perfect, and his interpretation of the text and the characters is very sensitive. The book is a brilliant semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story by an author whose range is very impressive (from nightmarish futurism to historical fiction and plenty in between). This one is a realistic first-person narrative about a kid with a stammer and the usual tween anxieties. There's a full and convincing cast of secondary characters. The atmosphere is one of nostalgia for early 80s pop culture and sadness about the effects of an unhappy marriage; yet it is lightened by the humor and the fabulations of its bright 13 year old narrator. I'm sure that I'll listen to this again.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
I was blown away by Cloud Atlas so I had to give this a try. Initially, I was disappointed that there were no clever postmodern devices. This is a straightup narrative of the life of a 13-year-old boy. And I was initially skeptical since I've always thought this genre was done to death by American authors. It pains me to say it, but Mitchell does this better than any American author I've come across. Plus, it's just plain better than any YA novel I've come across period. It's totally accessible to the YA audience but it's not marketed that way. And while he may eschew postmodern gimmicks here, there's a sophisticated structure underlying it. What seems like a simple slice of life book is actually composed of a number of interlocking storylines that ultimately all contribute to our young protagonist's understanding of his world. There just seems to be no limit to the talents of David Mitchell.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Not as powerful as Mitchell's superb Cloud Atlas, but an authentic portrayal of adolescence, set in early 1980s England. The book's protagonist, Jason Taylor, is a quiet, uncertain boy who struggles with a stutter. Through his much more even inner voice, Mitchell recreates with unflinching honesty all the joys and terrors of adolescence. Jason maintains a precarious hold near the bottom of the school social ladder, endures relentless torment from bullies, and watches his parents' marriage unravel month by month. The bullies are especially effective characters, as Mitchell makes sure they're just as bad as adult readers have tried to forget they were, and just as overpowering in their cruelty.
But, it's not all trial: there's friendship, first love, and the eventual turning point of hard-won confidence and social acceptance. Nor does Mitchell skimp on all the ordinary details of being 13 -- classes, walks in the woods, encounters with neighbors, crushes on girls, conversations at the family dinner, accidentally seeing one's father drunk and naked -- it's really these moments, experienced intimately through a 13 year old point of view, that drive the book.
Though not to the same degree as Cloud Atlas, there are a few touches of the fanciful. In the course of the novel, Jason meets several oddball characters who seem at least as much like literary figures as real people. Their presence, though not crucial to the story, challenges, in a winking way, both Jason's and the reader's politely restrained attitudes about life. One character, in fact, is an aged version of someone who appears in Cloud Atlas.
The novel has a very episodic structure, with the larger plot arc unfolding at a leisurely pace, and a narrative that consists, for the first three quarters of so, of small daily events that feed Jason's inner life, rather than drastically altering the course of his outer one. But this inner life and its reflections are really the point of the book, and patient readers will find much to like (especially the 1980s British slang) in Mitchell's eyes-open portrait of an age, time, and place. As with Cloud Atlas, Mitchell shows a talent for taking simple, familiar scenes and giving them an elusive air of meaning above the scene's own significance.
Side note: Some readers have complained that Jason sounds a little too eloquent to be a 13 year old. Yeah, I agree that no 13 year old talks like him, but I don't think it was so much Mitchell's intent to capture what a 13 year old *says* as it was to capture how one *thinks*. Sometimes a writer has to take a few creative liberties to get inside someone's head. Our own voices are always more "adult" in there, anyway.