The first seven hours of this audiobook were a constant internal struggle for me as I debated whether to stop then and ask Audible for a refund or keep listening in the hope it would get better. Curiosity got the better of me and I kept listening until the end. Now I wish I had spent the past 12 hours listening to something different.
The first 6 to 7 hours were mind-numbingly tedious and unsuspenseful. The most menacing moments were when the building manager would growl angrily at the tenants in a thick German accent. (If that does not sound suspenseful to you, that's precisely my point.) I thought I was listening to bad young adult fiction, as the sentences were short, the dialogue was uninspired, the characters were slackers mostly in their 20s, and there were a lot of dumb adolescent jokes. The mystery finally started to become interesting around hour seven. A couple of hours after that, the book took yet another turn and was definitely NOT for tender young readers. Though not intended by the author, I would describe this book as being in three parts, each a different genre: first, a really long "Friends" episode; second, a Scooby Doo episode; finally, an HP Lovecraft short story. The book did not particularly appeal to me, though younger readers who are not picky might find it sufficiently entertaining if they can get past the halfway mark. The F-bombs in the latter half became very annoying.
The narrator did a great job with the various characters and accents.
Like a lot of books, this one starts out great, so good in fact I was already looking at other titles written by this author. The dialog is great, the characters extremely well crafted eccentric and imbued with great chemistry. The story takes off and begins to take you into the world of the apartment, building some great creepyness with what the troop finds. I do not want to give out any plot spoilers so I will just say that for a bit the books takes things into the surreal just a bit to far, it crosses the line into silly, then comes back. I was bummed by that because the book overall is really good, there is tension, a great storyline that is unique, well crafted dialog and evidence that the author has talent actually writing, that segment though dampers the experience a great deal, does not ruin the book but takes it out of the four or five star category. As a mention, the narration is well done and fits the mood and characters of the story very well.
Recommended with a sigh at what could have been a great book, but what is in fact only a pretty good book
The Path Between the Seas to The Great Bridge ~ Kagan's Peloponnesian War to Gaddis' Cold One ~ Mornings on Horseback to a River of Doubt ~ Tom to Huck ~ Lennie to Charley ~ Cadfael to Cross ~ Rhyme to Reacher ~ Blomkvist and Salander to Wallander and Wallander ~ Moving Cheese or Eating Frogs ~ On the Road and Into Thin Air ~ The End of History to A Short History of Everything to ... well ... everything else.
Well written, highly imaginative, apocalyptic thriller, ably narrated by Ray Porter. Listen, and you can expect several hours of entertaining diversion ... IF ...
You suspend disbelief in the fantastic. This plot moves from engaging mystery to wild apocalyptic fantasy. Let me repeat: WILD apocalyptic fantasy. You have to drink the Kool-Aid for this plot to work. AND
You also suspend logic and critical thinking. Here is the greatest flaw in this novel. Fantasy is not an excuse for sloppy plot development. And as well written as this novel is, it is bloated with illogical or unexplained plot elements, and not a few distracting contrivances.
If you think me overly harsh, consider just a few examples (minor spoilers follow):
~ Do we really believe that a government so concerned about a particular building that it would track public inquiries would not have more capable agents on site?
~ Do we really believe the same government would go to such extraordinary lengths to screen tenants and NOT track or arrest the cult whose actions it fears most?
~ And don't we find the explanation from the mysterious "owner" at the end to be a little too contrived, relying a bit too much on the "if I tell you, I'll have to kill you" contrivance.
Nonetheless, if you can, you should accept the world of 14, turn off that part of your brain that demands logic and internal consistency, and take this ride. It is a wild one.
Yes because I enjoyed 2/3 of it.
The last 1/3 of the book was ridiculous. I wanted to scream at the characters to stop with their stupid chattering and get to work! Also, I wasn't a fan of the big secret - it felt too .... weird.
Yes, I can see 14 being made into a movie. It's a very visual book.
Great reading. Characters had distinct voices and brought the story to life.
I loved the suspense and the science of the first half of the book. It was mature and I enjoyed the theory and the intellectual approach. I couldn't wait to get back to listen to more. THEN...Somewhere near the last 1/4th of the book when the characters actually discovered "the answer" and the "monsters came out of the closet" so to speak, all the suspense flew out the window and it became a silly, contrived action adventure and I was glad when it was finally over. I actually felt a little anger at this book. How could it have been so good to start off and then end in such pure cheese?
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
SciFi is not my usual genre, but the almost universal rave reviews with promises that this was new and different than any other book around made me take the leap of faith. Ultimately I was both disappointed and pleased at different points in the story.
I hated the slower than molasses set-up. It took right at half the book to get beyond the introductions to the cast of characters, and as much time as the author took to work everyone into the narrative, there was little depth to any of them. You could see the broad stereotypes from central casting. The comparisons to Scoobey and the gang sounded somewhat intriguing in the reviews that I read, but especially in the front half of the book it became tiresome and trite.
Once I hit the halfway mark, things picked up considerably. There was action and the wild ride creativity that had been promised in the reviews. It was Scoobey Doo meets Dr. Who, and I mean that in a good way. (Yes, Dr. Who is my one scifi guilty pleasure). Well written, unexpected and breathtaking. The characters took on greater depth and dimension as they were (finally) given something to do.
Then I hit hour 10. After the thrilling Act 2, I wondered what the author was going to do for four more hours. That's when it hit some hard core scifi that I don't mean in a good way. The fans of the book who gave the rave reviews obviously had no problems with the turn of events. But it didn't appeal to me. I don't want to ruin anyone else's pleasure with spoilers, so I won't be specific about what disappointed me. But the movie Jaws came to mind in the sense that for most of the movie we never saw the shark, and we were scared to death. It was after we actually saw the shark that it didn't quite match our imaginations. That was the kind of let-down that I felt. True fans of Clines may be better pleased. But for my leap of faith - my bad.
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
I am thrilled to rate this book with 5 stars. What this book has.....
terrific character development, I got to know and cared about each and every character; story/plot, I just couldn't put this book down (what is the audio equivalent of a page turner?); intrigue and suspense, the tenants of the building have a mystery to solve that is a matter of life and death;
romance that is hip and cool and relevant, with plenty of references to current culture;
and equal to the wonderfulness of the book overall is the expert narration, I am thinking that Mr. Porter is perhaps one of the best narrators ever, he did everything right, accents, pace, tone, and inflection.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book, oh I agree ......happy dance!!!!
I honestly think I lost IQ points listening to this book. The worst part was that I got sucked in initially by the reasonably suspenseful plot devices. I put up with the cardboard characters and cliched writing because I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding the building. But the pay-off was so bad, so ridiculously bad, that I felt like an idiot having wasted any time on this drivel. I want my time back and the brain cells I expended in the effort. The narration was ok, although some of the accents were pretty lame. (Ray Porter's German is much better than his Indian.) I just kept wondering, "Isn't he embarrassed to be reading this?"
I understand from reading many other reviews that mine is a minority opinion. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
What on earth is this book about? At 2/3 of the way through nothing had really happened, and nobody had really done anything, but I still kept reading because I wanted to know (probably as badly as the characters wanted to know): what is up with this building? And why is it titled 14? And why has it sometimes been tagged as "horror"?
That makes it sound like the first 2/3 dragged... it did not. For some reason the story kinda grabs you and pulls you in, even if it spends a lot of time keeping you in suspense as to what the story is actually about.
When I (and the characters) finally discovered what was going on, the story picked up the pace, and perhaps got a bit far-fetched... and it ended up not being at all what I thought it had to be. Of course, you have to suspend disbelief when reading. If you can do that, you should enjoy this book. It has a nice sense of foreboding and suspense and you're never really sure what's really going on.
I even liked the ending, pat though it might have been. I'd read more by this author. It is mostly sci-fi-ish, not really horror at all... There is a bit of violence, but it's not graphic or over-done. There is no sex and I don't think there was much in the way of swearing. The narration was very good.
I really like this story, until it went off the rails about 75% of the way through. It really was too bad. I liked all the major characters a lot. They were believable and credible. They reacted to weird developments like normal people would. I don't even have a problem with the notion of the building being more than it appears. But once they go through the door into Apartment 14 ... well, the author's story unravels into increasing silliness. I could come up with half a dozen ending scenarios that would make more sense than what's written.