As a longtime member of a university Holocaust Studies Advisory Board, this was a must-read. Alternating Sarah's and Julia's voices was audacious and successful as the plot unfolded, particularly the Sarah segments. But the novel became diffuse after Sarah (maybe halfway through the book), with plots, subplots, distracting detail, and an almost narcissistic and distracting focus on Julia's marriage and personal life. It began to read like another book--not very different from many other fictional looks at women's lives, identities, careers, marriages, hopes and disappointments. Yes, a very important genre, but it would have taken a much greater gift than Ms. de Rosnay has to meld these two novels into one. As the plot drifts, and Sarah becomes a small penumbra, the writing becomes pedestrian, and though it is not a long book, I was glad to finally reach the end.
I give the book three stars because of the subject matter and the quality of Sarah's segments.
The narrator is very good throughout, rendering the accents and affects of the many characters with skill and confidence. What must have been a lot of hard work in this voicing challenge was well worth it.
Cronin has latched onto a clever conceit: Man's hubris leads to a pandemic that, like rabies perhaps, turns victims into vectors and nearly destroys the world.
At best a good plot line with stretches that capture our attention. But the story as a whole sprawls--an endless trek, rather than a passage. Cronin is best when the theme is mystical and etherial, but often when the mists clear, there are simply more mists.
The action scenes are jumbled and too long. They might be good action directions for a movie, but they are flat as direct fiction.
Not every story needs a linear plot, and dystopias fall into that class perhaps especially. But Mr. Cronin ultimately does not know where to go with his nice conceit, and at some point I had less and less interest in where it was going--but hoped that it would get there sooner than later.
Minor note: Mr. Cronin has not yet mastered the simile and should use it sparingly. "Wet, like the sea," "dark like the night," and "empty as a vacuum" (not actual excerpts--rather my models of the problem) are tautological, add little, and are annoying.
Summary: A good yarn with much entertainment value, but also much missed potential.
The readers are all excellent, and they make the most of the material.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.