This book was very well written and enjoyable for the most part, but I think it would be best enjoyed by someone that has more intrested in the Dominican Republic than I do. The core story held my intrest, but I think I missed a lot of the story especially when they broke into Spanish without explanation to their non-Spanish speaking audiance.
This is by far the best narration job I have ever listened to. The book is written in the first person, and Jonathan Davis did a fantastic job both acting as the character narrating the book as well as changing his voice for the dialogue. That being said, the book was darker than I expected - you should be prepared for both child abuse and political torture. I am somewhat familiar with Dominican history and speak enough Spanish to understand the phrases (and sometimes whole sentences) that were not translated, so I liked the writing style, but I could see how this might be a big detraction for others. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 was that by the end I found it a little repetitive - Oscar seemed to just keep going through the same disastrous patterns without learning anything, which I didn't find convincing. Nevertheless I was so impressed by the narrator that it hardly mattered.
Loved the story, loved the characters, loved the dialogue, loved the history, loved the descriptions. This was a fabulous book. I was totally enthralled begining to end.
Yes, I drove around the block a couple of times just to get a little more listening in.
This is a not to be missed listen. Fabulous descriptions and character development. The historical, political aspect was interesting and completely weaved into the story. I don't speak Spanish but I got a good feel for what was being said within the context of the phrase. A wonderfully visual multigenerational story.
A lot of great things have been written about this book by The New York Times and others, and those are in fact true. It's a great story. But what makes this audiobook even more special is the excellent performance by Jonathan Davis and Staci Snell.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.” (George R. R. Martin)
I have no idea...
Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude would probably be the closest. They both deal with similar themes and do so in a somewhat similar way.
I don't have a particular favorite scene.
That's a tough one. I don't really know.
Out of all of the books I’ve read and audiobooks I’ve listened to this is probably my favorite. It supposedly took Junot Diaz 10 years to write this Pulitzer-prize winning novel and the time was well spent. The narration by Jonathan Davis is superb. The story takes a multi-perspective approach delving into the origins and fallout of a family curse, starting in present day New Jersey and backtracking to the Dominican Republic. Fans of ‘Ready Player One’ or ‘Fortress of Solitude’ would probably enjoy this audiobook since it deals with similar themes and portions of the story get into obscure nerdy pop cultural areas.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I loved the narrator's voice, which mixed profanity-laden Dominican-American streetspeak with sci-fi and fantasy references. He conveyed a powerful sense of the loneliness that must belong to an overweight, undersexed nerd in an ethnic culture where such people are a laughable anomaly. The novel was even more compelling when it traveled back into the past and explored the history of Oscar's family back in the DR. This story was full of riveting scenes, like a father torn between bringing his beautiful daughters to a state ball, where the nation's terrible dictator (whom the narrator compares to JRR Tolkien's dark lord, Sauron) would be likely to rape them, and the dangerous indiscretion of NOT bringing them. The writing is so authentic, capturing the way people from the hood speak and think, but telling a story almost anyone can find something to connect to in -- who'd have thought Star Trek geeks, hip-hop fans, and Caribbean immigrants would find common cause in one novel.
Yet, I found that this book felt more like a patchwork of stories that never quite formed a cohesive whole. The story revolves around Oscar, but he never really becomes an engaging character, nor does his personal tale (mostly about his difficulties finding romance) ever assume the sense of importance that Diaz gives to the Dominican history and myth that he includes. In fact, I thought it was a mistake that Oscar wasn't given his own voice in the novel -- his D&D and science fiction obsessed perspective would have been quite interesting. Described from the head-shaking viewpoint of the narrator, Yunior, who is more of an archetypal Dominican-American male, he just sounds like a stereotype of a nerd.
Still, while aspects of this novel left me flat, it's so original in its concept and voice that it's worth reading just for that.
I was on the fence on how to rate this book. First off, I do want to say that one of the things I was wondering about was whether the fact that I don't speak Spanish would affect how well I would enjoy the book. I discovered to my pleasure that I was fine not knowing the exact meaning of the various phrases used. I could guess with some and with others it wasn't a problem just not knowing.
As for why I wasn't sure how to rate the book, it was really the ending that made it a problem for me. The writing in this book is wonderful -- it catches you from the beginning and really keeps you wanting to know more. But that's part of the problem for me. When the ending came, I felt it was a big letdown. I wanted more to it than there was. I didn't feel a sense of closure, if you will. Hard to explain without giving the ending away.
The upshot is that this is a great book, but don't expect much from the ending. And if that's more important to you than good writing and a good middle story, then think about whether it's worth the read.
Did not realize Amazon has two separate audio versions of this book. Disappointed to receive a different version from what I had expected.