Suspenseful Captivating Entertaining
Rook Thomas is suck into a flesh cube and is struggling to hold on.
The story was all about Rook Thomas, but I can't wait for the follow up and hopefully we get more graphtor info
Amnesia can be deadly.
I don't right reviews normally, but this is one that was so good I had to.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
I'm glad I didn't realize that The Rook was classified as YA on some lists when I downloaded it or I would probably not have given it a listen since I've been rather disappointed with my sampling of previous YA genre books. I'm not sure what makes a book YA, but this one to my relief did not suffer from the problems I have seen in my previous YA "dips". No sign of the simplistic, unrealistic YA characters - the Rook has well developed characters that a reader can identify with or at least understand (i.e. motivations track with their back stories and behavior is consistent). No teenagers taking charge of the world - all the central characters are full grown adults; some quite ancient so you get NO teenage angst or the overdone "coming of age" sexual rabbit trails in this tale. And finally, thankfully, no insipid romantic convolutions to veer the plot off track, undermine the female protagonist, or bore the adult reader.
There is some good world building in this hidden fantasy world set "beneath" our real modern day world - the politics of this fantasy world are laid out well and remain consistent although the constant introduction of new abilities throughout the book gets a little tired after a while. In spite of a lot of action, the plot line is pretty basic and the mystery of Myfanwy's attack/amnesia isn't that mysterious. However, I will not be overly critical of the plotting because I thought the development of the two Myfanwy characters was beautifully done. The amnesia angle might be a bit cliche, but it was handled so perfectly that I will forgive the cliche. Myfanwy doesn't just develop amnesia from a bump on the head - she has all of her personal memories deleted from her so that the woman who wakes up after the attack only resembles the pre-attack Myfanwy at a cellular level. All that nurture and experience did to influence what nature started with in Myfanwy is gone. We learn of pre-attack Myfanwy from her letters to her future "sister" as we watch post-attack Myfanwy develop her own new persona. I loved the way O'Malley made the two characters unique and yet related. Ex: Old Myfanwy by way of her life experiences is quite shy (nurture); new Myfanwy isn't shy, but is still fairly introverted (nature). After all, you are who you are by way of nature and nurture, lose the nurture and you couldn't be you. But nature sets the initial boundaries so any version of you would have to have some commonality with any other version. By the end of the book, both the reader and the new Myfanwy come to understand and appreciate the old Myfanwy and it feels like you've been part of a story with two individual female protagonists. I came to like both of them very much. All of the characterizations in The Rook were interesting and quite well done.
Reviewing the performance is harder. I had some trepidation about the book after reading some of the negative reviews about the narration. You can hear what the reviewers were complaining about from the sample, but you might not be prepared for how incredibly irritating this strange voice mannerism is over 18 hours of listening to it - OUCH! The sad part is that Susan Duerden's reading makes it difficult to tell how good/bad O'Malley's writing is. She reads as if the author wrote the whole book in sentence fragments and rarely utilized any periods. She breaks up every sentence into phrases and leaves each phrase hanging out there - her voice never drops at the natural end of a sentence or a thought as a normal speaker would. I found this to be a major distraction that broke the flow of O'Malley's writing. But, Duerden isn't universally bad which makes the review hard. Her voice is nicely modulated and with a pleasant British accent she is a pleasure to listen to other than the weird phrasing thing. In addition, she does great character voices for men, women, children, and monsters and the dialog parts of the book are really fun with her presentation. (She did a better American accent than almost any British narrator I've listened to.) Parts of her narration I would give a 5 star and parts a 1 star. I finally settled on 2 stars because she so badly impacted the author's writing for me and that's a big No-No in my book.
This is a great little fantasy tale with wonderful characters. No hesitation recommending the book, but check the audio sample before you download and just make sure you are prepared for Susan Duerden's reading the whole thing as a series of sentence fragments before you take on the audio version.
This is the kind of styles I like in my reviews: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.
As a teenager, I used to enjoy a lot young adult books and I have to say I read a few now and then. Young adult books have the following characteristics: (a) the hero is friendly easy to identify, (b) all characters are monolithic but colorful, (c) there is a never-ending sequence of intrigue with no depth. This can be fun in its way in that one can read it, be entertained with little need for attention.
The Rook is a young adult book, a relatively good one. It uses the usual lost memory storyline as a starting point, and the super-hero storyline with weird powers to keep going, sprinkling some romance here and there and some cool fights at other times. The reading is excellent; on its own, it would be nice to hear even if the book were bad.
Now, the book is not for everyone. If you're looking for deeper humor or a solid intrigue, then there is very little there. In fact, the book reads a little bit like a cartoon that continues with various things happening with no connection with one another. It's very easy to move forward in the book because there is almost no evolution in the character or the general story. At the end of the book, I felt I had wasted my time and I could directly have skipped to the last hour without missing anything.
Reader. Wannabe writer. That's a picture of me standing in line to see Stephen King!
But this is a great story that truly cannot be summed up in a simplistic formula; however, readers might recognize elements of all of the above flavored with Mievillesque surrealism.
There are differences: it’s Jane Bond not James, and her Bourne-like memory loss is due less to amnesia and more so because she’s become someone else -- or someone else has become her (it makes sense in the story), and there are people with X Men-like abilities, but there are also vampires, and other, uh, entities.
Readers familiar with Mr. Mieville’s work will recognize and perhaps feel comfortable with the wave of weirdness when it hits. Unfamiliar readers might exclaim “what the frak?!” and feel that the book has gone off the rails or jumped the shark because the story does get a little… out there.
There’s also plenty of human drama, enough to care very much about our heroine Myfanwy, enough to feel eager for the next book. Mr. O’Malley has done a fine job with his first book, and I can’t wait to read more about Myfanwy and the mysterious Cheque organization. Oh, and good job with the trailer for the book. It's very funny.
I am a blind lawyer and aspiring writer, trying to read a little bit of everything but partial to sci-fi and military fiction.
I wonder sometimes who it is that selects titles for Audible's sales. I'd really like to know so I could thank them for bringing about my discovery of The Rook. I doubt I would have found it otherwise, and that'd have been a real shame, as this is a truly hilarious book with some uplifting undertones.
Imagine someone having to cope all at once with the existence of supernatural threats to humanity as well as their leadership role in an organization established to hold the line against such threats. This story could get very dark very quickly, but it doesn't, as the author and the reader enjoy themselves too much along the way. Our hero has plots to uncover, monsters to vanquish, and people to fool, all while learning who she was before her memory was lost and who she wants to be now. It all makes for a quick pace as she meets all sorts of colorful characters and risks her life to save the people of Britain, blissfully unaware of the dangers all around them.
The narration takes some getting used to, filled with an urgency suited to some events, but not to others. Eventually though, the voices of the characters shine through and allow the narrator's vocal talents to dazzle the listener, particularly with Myfanwy and other characters' spontaneous reactions to the odd events they encounter.
There are occasions when I wonder whether a book's sale price colored my opinion of its merits, not so in this case. I had far too much fun, something born out by the fact that I'll be buying the sequel as soon as it hits Audible.
First a confession. I normally shy away from female protagonists. In fantasy worlds they so often end up as either the ultra sexy master of everything caricature of femininity or a man that the author insists on referring to as "she". Myfanwy however is neither of these stereotypes. She is a highly competent and complex character that is powerful enough to be the main character of a fantasy novel, but maintains realistic human limitations as well as distinctly feminine characteristics. I know and love woman just like her and it was wonderful to read about a woman like that taking on extraordinary circumstances in a fantasy world.
I must also recognize the wonderful job done by the narrator Susan Duerden, this was one of those times when narrator and story were perfectly matched.
I live in the Catskills and I enjoy listening to audiobooks, particularly when I am working around the farm. Fiction works best for me. Reality is overrated.
Very well done!
Both the author and the the narrator managed to pull me into a genre that generally has no appeal and it happened within the first minute or two.
The main character, Myfanwy, would, of course, be the favorite, but the author has done an incredible job with the unusual cast that inhabit this book.
Tell us about yourself!
This is a good book and I recommend it. It is well written, funny and clever and the narrator is quite pleasing to listen to.
If J. K. Rowling had written an adult level book about the Ministry of Magic, especially the Auror department, it would be a lot like this--except no one in The Rook needs a wand to use their unique powers. This story is humorous, action-packed, filled with world-building detail, and populated with many interesting characters that I hope to get to know better in future books. O'Mally was able to create a very interesting way of handling a character with amnesia so that it isn't at all like anything I've read before and made me care very much about the main character--both in her before and after manifestations.
As good as it is, there is room for improvement as this writer continues to grow. The Rook ended with extended double denouments of too much talk and, while very interesting and humorous, some insertions of letters from "Thomas" broke up the pacing. Also, like many such books, I felt there were one or two too many harrowing moments packed into too short a span--but that's just me. A couple of times the action became a little silly--Myfanwy trying to answer her phone--and I feared it was devolving into farce, but those few moments passed and the humor returned to clever rather than silly. Still, overall this is a very good story that is well written and worth every minute of listening time.
The narrator did a very good job, in my opinion. Some reviewers complain about the sing-song nature of her voice, but I found it to be a lovely and lyrical accent. I must admit that the narrator's tone was so even and matter-of-fact at times that I nearly missed the fact that what she was saying was humorous, but it only meant I needed to pay closer attention to words because if my mind drifted I might miss something.
All in all, this is a great beginning to a new series--please let it be a series!