This is the third Neil Gaiman-recommended book I've listened to recently (Light and Pavane are the others) -- and it will probably be the last. I haven't really found any of them inspiring in the audiobook format. This one has a pretty good premise, but the story seems to get sidetracked with unnecessary stuff, and the ending was anticlimactic.
I read speculative fiction, YA, mysteries, entertaining nonfiction, & occasionally, heavier literature. I want it well written & literate.
The reviewing format that audio has set up can be helpful, but in this case makes it difficult to say what I liked and disliked without "spoiling" this book. Because as with the other Jonathan Carroll book I read, "White Apples" I loved the book with reservations. What I loved was the amazing imagination at work here. My favorite sort of speculative fiction is a book that changes one thing about life as we know it, and plays with that concept. This book does that splendidly. I was enthralled. Which was a good thing, because as with "White Apples", I found the egocentric main character and very hard to empathize with. He treats the female characters as useful tools to be used and disgarded, with no real human attachment. Despite this,I would still recommend this book. It was a fascinating read.
I am not sure what the hell it is that I just read exactly, but oddly enough I liked it. It was well written and the narration was not bad. It reads more like standard fiction than sci-fi until near the end of the book when you suddenly get slapped in the face. The story revolves around relationships and the quirkiness of small town life meshed with a rather unexpected, zany secret. I strongly suggest not going into this book with any expectations in your head as to what it's supposed to be or you will be disappointed. If you can manage to wrap your head around that idea early on, then you may find yourself enjoying it as I had.
Shorten it by half! Make at least one of the characters likeable.
Pruning. It went on and on even when it was obvious where the whole thing was headed something like having one's head beaten against a brick wall. The central idea was good but was hideously overworked until it died of sheer exhaustion.
He made a great job of some very tedious material, no complaints there.
What is it about American writers which makes them feel they have to bludgeon their readers senseless in order to get their message accross? Is the American reading public slow or something?I bought this book mainly on the recommendation of Neil Gaiman, for whom I have great respect, but I will be looking at his opinions on other writers much more critically in future. What were you thinking Neil?
Tell us about yourself!
The stunning narration of Edoardo Ballerini is more than a reading: it is an acting out. He becomes the voice of Thomas Abbey, a rather hapless man who counters the effect on his life of being the son of a famous person with a powerful obsession: he hopes to write the biography of an author whose books have been a hugely important part of his life.
Carroll's words -- at times almost luminous with associations and details -- paint picture after picture, lingering on images that cleverly and gradually contribute to evocative images of place, people and the community of Galen, Missouri. The reader responds to the characters because they have come alive.
The reader also becomes ensnared in a web of ingeniously presented improbabilities, and the mind tries to counter them with normalities -- hoping Abbey will discover the normal despite participating in dangerous unknowns.
This book touches on aspects of human experience: of vulnerability, trust, love, caring, mind control.
It also explores how we perceive our world -- what hopes and values we bring to our reactions and decisions.
Rich pickings indeed. There's even the ever tantalising concept of predestination somewhere in there!
This is just not a very engaging story line. I don't get why Neil Gaiman, who i really like, is so enamored with this story. It just isn't that interesting. Got about halfway through and stopped listening to it as it started to become a chore.
The story is simply not that interesting.
yes, he was good.
It's not the worst book I've ever listened to, but it just didn't keep me interested.
I loved it, but I think it requires a particular 'type' of person to enjoy it.
English majors and well-read 'eccentrics' will enjoy.
They're all terrible. Which is why I enjoyed it. I suppose Saxony is almost likable. Really, a good 'horrible' character is my favorite type.
The perfect privileged, pretentious, professorial speaking style. Seriously, he takes a somewhat loathsome character and makes him smugly pitch perfect. Applause!
Nails the dog. You'd have to read the book to find out.
As always, if you like to loathe your characters, you'll like this. Thomas is so delightfully, unwittingly narcissistic and inconsiderate, and it is fun to see what is going on in his head.
I would delete the last few paragraphs. It doesn't spoil any of the ending for me to say that the final scene of the book was more or less unnecessary, and the twist therein left more more frustrated and annoyed than pleased. The story ended with a triumphant finish, then there was an epilogue, and then the epilogue got its own finish that didn't really work for me.
More importantly, I would speed up the pace of the first part of the book. By a lot. A real lot. I feel like this would have been an absolutely amazing short story, but was only a so-so novel. I stuck it out because I wanted to see what Neil Gaiman so admired about it, and I started listening in the first place because the premise sounded so cool. Someone starts writing a biography of his childhood hero, and things start getting weird. Great. I'm sold. A whole town full of people who know their own futures? Awesome. Bring on showing me the psychological implications of that, both for them and for an outsider coming in. BUUUUUT, see the next part of this review for the reason for my three stars.
The premise was wonderful. Unfortunately, the book is divided into three parts, and the premise *does not even appear until part three*. The first few pages were very misleading. The protagonist collects creepy masks and meets a mysterious woman who shares one of his obscure interests and hand-carves creepy marionettes? Yes please. Tell me more. Instead, for the next five of eight total hours, I got to listen to them doing some preliminary research, finding a few contradictory details, moving to a sleepy Midwest town, and finding out some more mundane things. I spent most of those five hours wondering when the interesting part would come, and re-checking the description of the book to make sure I hadn't accidentally gotten the wrong one. Sure, it was "good writing" and I appreciate that, and the voice actor did a great job, but about 2/3 of the story was utterly uninteresting to me. What I was expecting to be the bulk of the book was actually an extended conclusion... It was a very good conclusion, sure, but the excessive build-up left a sour taste in my mouth.
Depends on what the trailers played up. If they billed it as an obsessed biographer losing his grip on reality in the midst of a love triangle, not a chance. Pass. If they billed it as a biographer accidentally discovering a town full of impossible things, perhaps. But I doubt I'd feel like I got my $14 worth.
I'm not entirely sure that this book warrants a 4 star review, but if I rate it any lower, I'm afraid you'll pass it over. If you like stories where you know from the beginning that there is something that we're not being told, this is for you. Someone put this in the category of the "unreliable narrator" story, but I'm not sure that even quite describes it. I finished this book weeks ago, and i cant get it out of my head. Definitely worth the credit!
The author chose a challenging concept
He could have endowed his characters with a generosity of spirit.
Mr. Ballerini's presentation was excellent. I have not heard anything else by this performer.
This book is long on a sense of the inadequacy of the central characters and short on magic. However, some people might enjoy the underlying aura of malevolence.