Addicted to Audible!
I have been a big fan of Jodi Picoult, despite the fact that in the past few years she seems to be sacrificing quality for quantity. In this book she has gotten her groove back on a horrific subject and handles it with amazing realism! The holocaust story was very well constructed and at some points literally had me in tears. The writing was Jodi at her best! The rest of the book was a disappointment. Perhaps she needed a more honest editor. First of all there were too many unnecessary storylines which just distracted from the important story. Second, her allegorical story/fable was unnecessary and did nothing for the book. Third, it seemed that she borrowed from, The Reader, in that a prisoner survives because of a story/reading. I also think the names she gave her characters are a bit silly-sisters named Sage, Saffron & Pepper - are you kidding me? The readers were all great except for the voice of Misha, I found her intonation annoying.
All in all, I enjoyed listening to this book and I would still recommend it even with the negatives that I have described.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY - Audible has categorized this as a mystery/thriller/modern detective. I would call it historical fiction, though there are mystery and detective components. The main characters are richly developed, and each tells his own story. There is Josef, who is an old man haunted by the crimes he commited against Jews during the Holocaust. Sage is a young woman who works as a baker at night so she can hide her disfigured face from the world. Leo is a government attorney who finds and prosecutes war criminals. Minke, Sage's grandmother, was a prisoner at Auschwitz and is "The Storyteller." Minke writes a story about Anya and two vampire brothers, which captivates those who hear it.
The book jumps between these five stories, sometimes for hours at a time and sometimes just for minutes. They are easy to keep straight because they are each read by a different narrator. Minke's story about her life at Auschwitz is very long and details numerous atrocities, but it didn't bother me to listen to it. Josef seeks forgiveness for his crimes and surprisingly asks Sage to kill him, which causes Sage to meet Leo and investigate who Josef really was and what crimes he might have committed.
The book is deep and emotional, but I found it enjoyable and not gut-wrenching. Many of the characters are emotionally damaged. Some heal and some do not. The ending is very good, and I must say it came as a complete surprise to me.
PERFORMANCE - How can you go wrong with five different narrators? They all did great jobs.
OVERALL - I highly recommend this book to anyone, as long as you don't mind probing around in this dark period of our history.
I have about 400 books in my audible library, and this ranks among the best!
All of it.
There are several narrators for all of the roles, and all were great.
I have read all of Jodi Picoult's books, and they are all great but this one is the best.
Sage is a young woman who befriends an elderly man in her grief support group, and he asks her to kill him as a kind of twisted form of justice for his previous crimes 60+ years before when he was an SS officer..........but that's not really what the book is about. Too bad, because that would have made a more interesting book about justice, forgiveness, sacrifice, self-loathing, and self-doubt.
Instead we get a retrospective story about how Sage's grandmother lived and survived though World War II and internment in Nazi concentration camps, in great part because of her unfinished and ongoing story that she'd written.....the story had captivated an SS officer who helped her survive Auschwitz because he kept wanting to know what happened next in her story. That forms the biggest chunk of the book, and it's mixed with that telling of the story that she (the grandmother) wrote - which bears an unfortunate resemblance to a teen vampire love story. 'I killed for him, isn't that a sign that we were meant to be together?' -- Ugh!
There's a definite undertone of Christian mythology in the book, in spite of the fact that Sage is an atheist and her grandmother was a Jew who survived the holocaust: Mary, Joseph, Adam, and Eve (well, it's actually Eva), all appear and bread is a central thread as the staff of life and livelihood, and the manifestation of the baker's emotions. Overall, I thought it was rather heavy handed in it's symbolism and language.
I just couldn't get myself to finish this book. After less than a half an hour's listen I was convinced I knew what the plot's twist would be and... bang, an hour in later that was exactly it. Although I do like Picoult's style and enjoyed the narrative I just couldn't sit thtough it to see if there is some hidden turn which I might miss.
This is not a kind review I guess. I was trying out Picoult because had heard she is admired. Will not be writing any more poor reviews For this author I promIse; because I will never try another book of hers. She is 'not for me'.
I might have finished the book as a time filler but the audio transitioned poorly. When multiple characters tell a story it would not kill the audiobook editors to insert a spoken caption between characters. Especially when a female narrator does multiple characters, but a male narrator is used for the one male character. Weird. On top of which, as the story unfolds you realize one thread is a story inside the story, while the rest are just the story. If you think my description was inelegant imagine experiencing it as a listener who does not suspect how the book is laid out.
The second reason I couldn't get through the book was that it was that icky chick lit bunkum that I can't tolerate. Heroine who is horribly disfigured but actually strikingly beautiful, plus an orphan; noble Harvard lawyer who although sticking with the program, realizes after he graduates that the culture is not a good fit, ditches it all for a low paid position as Nazi tracker (with is frankly winding down from attrition these days and is difficult to picture as a calling for a young, sharp, and motivated man who wants to make a difference); Nazi SS guard hiding in plain sight, in the same small town as a holocaust survivor; Jewish mother; vampires; generations of amazing bakers (who are related but who are also each self taught because baking is a genetic gift not a skill); a nun who spurned her vows but has regular epiphanies. And a little dog too.
I should have known that I would be intolerant of such a mix of characters unless the book was a genre- bending meta sendup. I am deeply sorry to Picoult lovers and the author for a nasty review, but for my fellow eye-rollers who feel like they have heard it all and are looking for a new author: Picoult's probably not for you either.
Didn't need to. Never liked them in the first place.
Narrators were good but transitions between characters perspectives was absent and confusing.
Didn't get through book. Would have added audio captions when switching between characters.
I only cared to listen to this once. Depressing holocaust story with the expected cruelty and evil. Even the baker grand-daughter's story that is entwined with her grandmother's death bed story is lonely and sad.
Typical cat lady: lazy, sings off-key, craves spicy bloody marys.
How many novels, nonfiction accounts, documentaries and movies have I watched about the Holocaust? My mother even worked at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. I figure I've had my fill of understanding that hideous time in history and yet...I was compelled, once again, to listen to the grotesque details, to ponder the evil and fortitude of human beings and to wonder what I would have done if I'd been alive then.
And then when the heroes show up to rescue the prisoners, I felt that wonderful elation I always do, to be on the side of the good guys who sent Hitler and his minions running for their lives.
Evocative writing with fresh details and intimate performances all the way around. Learned new things and even had to look up Schutzhaftlagerführer in Wikipedia.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
Perhaps if this is your first book about the Holocaust, this might be the right book for you. For me, I've read too much about it and am so bothered by it that I nearly had to stop listening. I was expecting a different kind of book and with a different angle. Not so. There's an added dimension with the brothers but it all comes down to the same evil. I simply can't bear it. I wish I'd never listened to it.
I have LOVED most of Picoult's books (Nineteen Minutes, Sister's Keeper, Salem Falls are favorites) but Lone Wolf was a disappointment and I hoped it wasn't the dreaded Big Author Slide, but alas it appears to be the case.
Normally, it's fun to have all of the seemingly unrelated facets and characters of a story merge together but this was so disjointed and all over the place (that vampire/werewolf attempt was bizarre) that I found myself suddenly thinking Wait....Whaaat.?
The book seems a bit thrown together, the only part that seemed to be well researched and well written was the Holocaust portion with the remainder of the book as fluff and filler. Bummer.