The Shining - Review
As to the performance: it certainly wasn't monotone. The voices are all immaculate and extremely consistent; with a smooth delivery of the constant insertion and switching of inner voice to spoken voice that keeps the listener immersed and dramatizes the story amazingly well. What people are confusing "monotone" with, I think, at the beginning of the story is a wonderful and delicate subtlety.
As the madness sets in the dramatization becomes a very intense and accurate portrayal of the characters. I really don't understand how anyone can consider this narrator to be anything other than perfectly cast.
The statement that comes to my mind is: "A pure performance."
As to the story itself: there was a point at the beginning in which I distinctly remember thinking: this certainly isn't King's best work. It certainly started a little slow and a little dull; not what I'd expected from a Stephen King masterpiece. That was part one. Part two picked up well enough. After that the story continued to get better and better until the fifth part, the climax which I couldn't "put down" until I'd finished the story.
Graham has really found himself in Nick Gautier. The author has provided a witty and wonderfully sarcastic protagonist, who while infallibly snarky manages to consistently come across to the reader as someone you want to believe in, who you want to succeed; and the narrator comes across equally as strong, delivering the story to be undeniably Nicholas Gautier.
A solid sequel overall, continuing the entertaining internal dialogue of Gautier, and introducing a wonderfully diverse menagerie of creatures and characters; a fast paced story that's highly entertaining.
The characters have depth and I found it easy to believe in and like them, immediately from the beginning to the end. The story was a pleasant blend of powerful emotion, making me feel for the main character and wish for him to succeed, but at the same time the entire story is fairly humorous and a little goofy. The over-all story is pretty complex without leaving the reader lost. A great opening story for everyone who wants a continuing story about Vampires, Were-creatures, Ghouls, and Demons.
This isn't a review about the story American Gods; others will do that. What I felt important to review here was the superb production presented by this very talented group of narrators. The characterization- depth, realism and building of, and ability to relate to -in American Gods is very well done, but the performance of the narrators brings them further, adding an even more complex and integrated layer of emotion and connection.
The main narrator is easy to listen to and warm to the tale- I felt the narrator was telling me a story of his experience rather than a recitation of another's work.
And of Neil Gaiman's own short passages, sprinkled thru-ought: an excellent lift from the main story, giving each break an ethereal yet distinctive separation from the main story.
Fantasy is supposed to be free, fresh and original- an escape from the stuffiness, the boring, and sometimes the simply unbearable "real" world. Unfortunately, fantasy today often feels cramped, dominated by the repetitive cliche worlds: medieval eras, elves, dwarves, warriors with ridiculous powers, et al.
This is not cliche. This is one of those precious gems that lives in the fringe of its genre.
The story is written very well. The author excels in bringing details to life, imagining a circus that's so beyond reality and yet grounding the idea so well it makes the reader believe they could go out into our world and find such a place.
The tale of the two illusionists is well told. Thoroughly told but not belabored, rich and consistently paced; and yet in a life where few can sit and enjoy a sip of fine scotch but would rather slam an energy drink and go a mile a minute, I can see how this tale might come off as boring.
This is not an action-adventure. The story is wonderfully different, deeply romantic, and unfolds steadily and consistently. If you're tired of the cliche flashy magic and Harry Potter-ish characters and story (or LOTR-ish settings), try this one.
Note: The only reason the performance received a 4 star vice 5: Jim Dale does an amazing job, however (as noted in many other reviews) he gives every female character a distinctively male voice.
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