I read other reviewers who gave up on this book up after 30 hours; I don't know how they got that far, let alone finished it. The snail's pace of the narrator was excrutiating, and the repetitive minutiae drove me insane. I pulled the plug after 2 hours.
I'm always in search of the longest audiobooks I can find, since I usually read both my credits' worth before the end of the month. At almost 47 hours, this one fit the bill and had excellent reviews so I gave it a shot even though I wasn't familiar with the author or book. I'm glad I did. The book (I think it was originally 3 books in Japan) kept me absorbed from beginning to end. It's a very unique idea and I loved the story-within-a-story aspect. Interestingly, nearly all the characters are kind of one-dimensional, from a traditional literary point of view. The characters don't change much from the beginning to the end, which is something I was always taught to avoid in writing, but it works here because (without giving spoilers) the story itself changes around the characters. Instead of the world being stable and the characters moving through it, the characters are the fixed point of reference. Because it's just a little off traditional storytelling techniques, it makes the story feel unique above and beyond the plot itself.
The writing is also vivid and excellent. It's the type of writing where you have to pause occasionally and really take in a phrase that hits you just the right way. Another reviewer commented on the phrase "shaken his heart from a strange angle," which is one that I loved, too. I was also very taken with the phrase "Bright words make the eardrums vibrate brightly." It's such an odd phrase, when looked at literally, but you instinctively know what it means. The whole book is peppered with that kind of language. The author, obviously, takes primary responsibility for this, but the translators also did a great job. I'm not really sure how the translation process works, but I suspect there were spots where they added small explanations to ease the reading of unfamiliar concepts. They also did a great job with the occasional idiom or slang word. It was so well-done that I felt less culture-shock than I have with some books that are written in English to begin with. (There's a bonus interview with the narrators at the end if you want to hear their perspective.)
There are a couple of things that I disliked. The first was, as others have mentioned, the female narrator. It was kind of bizarre - when she is voicing the main character she does fine. She has a pleasant voice that effectively conveyed emotion. When she was voicing some of the other characters, however, it's almost like instead of changing the timbre of her voice she just changed how slowly she talked. The elderly dowager, in particular, sounded similar to a computer reading text. Her speech was very slow, oddly emphasized, and emotionless. In some books with a narrator that talks too slowly I just speed up the playback, but it wasn't possible since the slow alternated with normal speech. My other complaint is that I would have liked it to be about 30 minutes longer and tell us what happened concerning a few supporting plotlines. I'm not saying that every loose end needs to be tied up - I think this is a cultural thing because I've noticed that American books and movies tend to completely resolve all stories and foreign ones don't... I ordinarily accept it as part of the style. But the way it was written, several secondary storylines were building towards a climax and then just disappeared. It felt like when you think you're going to sneeze and then you don't. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll give a made up example: It would be like saying that someone's dog had run away and they got a call from the pound saying there was a dog that might be theirs so they get in the car and go to the pound, and then the story switches to another character and never comes back to tell you if the dog was theirs or not.
Despite my two small complaints, the book is undoubtedly one of the best I've listened to recently and (especially if you like long books) you should not hesitate before getting and reading this book!
56 year old working wife, mother and grandmother.
I decided to quit listening and did not finish the book. The story was intriguing but I could not get past the too frequent sexual escapades. As other readers had noted, I also was irritated with the repeating of a statement. It made the story move too slowly.
I liked the male voices however found the female voice undesirable.
Business Physicist and Astronomer
This is a book in need of an editor. It could easily be cut in half without losing a beat. I had a miserable time getting through it---the characters are bland, by design, as it is some sort of 1984 type saga. But really, once you get a handle on the personalities, nothing they do is unpredictable. I can't imagine taking this thing on in print.
There are interesting ideas. But to me, the book feels like it was written by a 17 year old with a good imagination but no real writing talent. Hey wait! That's the premise of the book "Air Head Chriswillbuythis". Well I did. I don't regret it but don't recommend it either.
I am not averse to listening to long books. I have made it through both "War and Peace" and "Atlas Shrugged". In the hands of good narrators even the longest books are a pleasure.
This, however, is only a fair story. And a pretty common one as science fiction goes. There's a mystery that ties together a couple of main characters. Their stories run parallel for a while then the stories intersect. In some places I could see the next scene coming a mile away. But all in all, it's not a bad story. A good editor would have made this a great story and cut down at least 30% of the text.
But the narrators really spoiled this for me. For some reason, the female character's tale is told at an excruciatingly slow pace. At times I sped this up to double speed, something I have never done, in an effort to move things along. Even at double speed I wanted to reach into the recording and shake this narrator and scream, "All right already, get on with it!" The male readers are almost as bad. Seriously...where was the production director on this one?
Can't recommend this audio. Get the print edition and skip liberally through this tale.
I'll admit what initially attracted me to this audiobook was the tremendous volume (46 hrs 50 minutes!) for the tiny price (1 credit) but after finally finishing it I wish I could have my one credit back. This was the most redundant novel I have ever encountered. It crossed my mind many times that the author must have left the work for extended periods and, upon returning, continued writing without reading what he'd already wrote. Unfortunately for the reader we'd been there all along and didn't need yet another repetition of speech, thought or action. Would have been a better read had it been condensed down to seven hours instead of forty-seven.
OK it's an epic. Initially I thought this would be a good a good mystery adventure but after the first 10 hours it got predictable. Now the world says this is a masterpiece. I just can't buy all the jerking off discussion and gratuitous sex. This is no Steinbeck. Pass on this one
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis
the story was pleasant but not great. I could of rated it higher if it was a shorter book. But for a 46 hour book very little happens. The explicit talk about sex does not fill the gaps. There is even talk toward the end on gun control. How politically correct can you get. The writing was good and by that i mean the characters were well developed. Narration was great.
You could cut the sappy stuff and the obvious product placements and make this a compact sci-fi thriller.
Maybe John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath"
Too many to count. I just couldn't buy the "little people." I also struggled with how the characters dealt with the "second moon." Some of the writing was really hocky: the use of "It's Only a Paper Moon" lyrics in a grave situation just made me cringe. Finally, I accept product placement in novels, but I got tired of all the pimping
This story dragged on and on, with little tiny detail after little tiny detail; yet the author is always talking about the "little people" with no rationale follow-through of what the little people are.
Also, Allison Hiroto's reading is spoken in an excess attempt to pronounce every vowel and consonant of every word in precise English, and gives the listener the experience that she is reading to a child.
Anything not read by Allison Hiroto