Can't agree with the rhapsodic reviews of this book. A slackly written "thriller" with no narrative pulse, its characters disappear for hundreds of pages or drop out of the book altogether without explanation. The set up to the main plot is so leisurely and discursive that it buries all tension and anticipation. When the climatic events are finally presented they are given in such a cursory fashion that I wondered why I had spent the previous 15 hours listening to their preliminaries.
There are also some real whoppers that make it difficult to suspend belief but those are minor compared to the larger, fatal failure to create a world believable on its own terms. Never for a minute did I believe that this world could exist. The characters were two dimensional puppets moved around for the convenience of the plot or else were so "colorful" that they never became real. Lack of character depth or of a convincing, organic world true to itself can be forgiven in a thriller if the plot is propulsive but all are missing here.
Some humor, a few interesting ideas, the workmanlike competence of the writing and a talented reader save the book from one star.
The story was great, kept my attention and was an interesting topic. One thing drove me crazy. I grew up in central Illinois and Tuscola is pronounced Tus-co’-la, with a short u and a long o. I know this is a small thing, but so are fingernails on blackboards. If you are going to read a book with so many references to a town, please call the city hall and find out how people pronounce the city's name! It really hurt my enjoyment in the book. If you never heard of the town, I am sure you couldn't care less and the book was great.
In a year where polling data runs every news cycle, this is a must read, or better yet, must listen.
This book is a great read and a great commentary on our current political climate without having any overt political or ideological leaning
Despite the fact that you have to suspend disbelief about a good politician coming from Illinois, my home state, this is an excellent book and I have read it several times. I would highly recommend it, and I would highly recommend listening to the audio version of it as well.
Great presentation! Narrator did a super job...
His presentation of all the characters
Another awesome and detail focused story. Neal takes several dissparate story lines and moves them gracefully together as the story is told!!!
Neal Stephenson is one of my favourite authors, and Oliver Wyman is one of my favourite readers. And as expected, I really enjoyed this book. I love the whole "Digital Manchurian Candidate" theme. Everything, in fact, was excellent, save for one truly grating thing: Mr. Wyman doesn't know the correct pronunciation of downstate Illinois towns. The worst is how he pronounces the name of Governor Cozzano's hometown of Tuscola. He pronounces it TOO-skuh-luh. Unfortunately, the local pronunciation is tuh-SKOL-uh. So every time I heard him read the name of the town, I mentally muttered the correct pronunciation in my head. Most distracting.
Still, this was an excellent performance of a well-written book.