This book has a great idea, using fMRI imaging to see what parts of our brain are used when we make decisions. Sadly, the book is just a lotbad ideas/writing combined with the author stroking his own ego.
This is a direct quote from the first page of introduction the describing the author:
"anyone seeing Martin from twenty feet away... [will see like] a slight blond creature that has just stepped into the spotlight. You wait for the light to fade, but it doesn't. Like a pre-Raphaelite painting, there is a glow that emanates form Martin as if he was destined to be on stage. No, not as a matinee idol, but as some god-waif. The man exudes virtue. Close up, he is even more starting. I've never met anyone with wise eyes, set in such a youthful face... you might ask him for an autograph".
Think of the type of person who would use that to introduce himself... seriously... and it just goes on and on...
"But this study wasn't going to come cheap, and I knew that without corporate backing, it was dead in the water. But when I get an idea in my head that keeps me up at night, I'm persistent. Politely pushy, you might call it. Those twenty-seven messages on your answering machine. They're all from me (sorry)."
"By way of profession, I'm a global branding expert. That is, it's been a lifelong mission (and passion) to figure out how consumers think ... If you look around, chances are you'll find my branding fingerprints all over your house or apartment ... As a branding expert and brand futurist (meaning that the sum of my globe-hopping experience gives me a helicopter view of probable future consumer and advertising trends) ..."
Save yourself the pain that I went through... instead read Predictably Irrationality (smart author, good writing, good narrator) or Freakonomics (book that help start the genre).
Even for the genre this particular spinoff series has shallow characters, really lazy world building, and tired, repetitive writing. In particular there are numerous cringeworthy double entendres said during the sex scenes that are fake-porn movie style quality (like when a TV sitcom spoofs a porn movie).
The lazy execution. The author keeps hinting at depth and origin story... but never bothers to actually explain the motivation of the principal characters beyond single sentence catch phrases like "needle point and kama sutra" (yes, that is a direct quote and it is repeated over and over again).
Yes, the narrator was mainly given pretty terrible dialogue to work with.
Disappointment, annoyance at the author for churning books as fast as he can to cache in on the series he has built up. I think he wrote 3 books this year... one in the main series and two more in to separate spinoff series... no one writing good full length novels at that rate.
The world building was exceptionally bad... (especially since this technically exists in the same universe as the main Longknife series of books) and at most really inconsistent... some people are said to be Machiavellian but then are completely manipulative and blinded to reality by attractive people and simpering sycophants.
While I don't think the overall story was worth spending the time, there are many brief snippets of subplot that were very good and very important for any avid reader of the series.
The novel has many ingredients that would have made it a great story... but it felt like the book was rushed out to print without having enough time to marinate. The plot barely had numerous dead ends and just as it was beginning to get some momentum, the book ended not with a bang, but a whmper.
Yes... I'm a big fan of David Pogue's columns and video on NYTimes, CNet, Yahoo and his Nova mini-series. I read about the story about how this book was written and the themes and ideas that David Pogue wanted to bring in this book and it sounded like it would be great story... unfortunately, I don't think the end result just came together well... too often Pogue ended up using his "journalistic/description/science writer" voice to describe things objectively... instead of emotionally as a fictional storyteller.
No. I like the genre of children discovering and entering a new world of wonder and secret amazement. The problem were that this book spent
I find the corny deliver he has in his videos and on TV show amusing in 2-3 min segments... but his hammy deliver gets a little tiring for me after the first hour. Particularly his imitation of two of the more cartoonish characters were uninspired to me (again good for a father just telling his child a story... not as good on a professional audiobook).
You know towards through the book I was thinking this very thing. I would cut out most of the excessive description passage where the author list in excessive and breathlessly excited detail every building, room, piece of furniture, electronic gadget... much in the same way a salesperson would describe the features of a product in a commercial.I would have cut out all the blatant foreshadowing and the ending chapter as well.
Perhaps I am just the wrong audience for this book. I'm a decent fan of David Pogue and had was hoping this would be a nice clever little story I could share with my daughter... but sadly the differences between a columnist and a novelist is demonstrated only too obviously for me here (just because you are good at one style of writing, doesn't me you will be of the other).
The author tries to weaving a variety of interesting skills into the main character... ballroom dancing, parkour, zoology, hand to hand combat... but to me as a reader I question if the author actually know much about any of these topics even in the "stage-fighting" logic of tv shows, movies, and books
For one thing the main character keeps bragging about how lethal she is because of how many hidden weapons she has on her in addition to her gun (making them sound like earring and other accessories)... then is beaten MULTIPLE times while at the same time failing to use most of her weapons - even worse runs out of bullets for her gun. She has the tactical mind of a hamster and is routinely unable to deal with any opponent that does not doesn't step forward, announced a challenge, and attack head-on in a 1-on-1 style duel.
When cornered and incredibly outnumbered by several bigger and stronger opponents and you worried about survival... why would anyone try hand to hand combat instead of using their gun until they are almost utterly defeated?
School of Good and Evil
Narrator did a decent enough job with the dialogue she was given.
I think someone who enjoys hard science fiction such as "Journey to the Center of the Earth" by Jules Verne or Ringworld by Larry Niven might enjoy it. Don't expect to much in terms of character development (or plot development for that matter). This is more of a tour of "the tree of possibilities" type of book where the characters encounter a strange phenomenon... hypothesize a cause of it after about 5 mins of observation, and then move on, rarely ever bothering to think/research any deeper ever again.
No, I blame the author for just putting out poorly written book in my opinion.
No. Michael Fenton-Stevens is not a very good narrator - in particular he has a lot of trouble giving proper accents. It is very clear that he is BritishIn this book, he read a 28-year old man from present-day Madison, Wisconsin as having a gruff, gritty frontiersman voice (not quiet Wild West as there was no drawl to it) - to be fair the Joshua character is actually a modern-day frontiersman, but still the voice rings as somewhat contrived.Another character is a Tibetan... and the narrator starts out with an acceptable (if not completely PC) Asian style lisp, but at some point in the novel the narrator start adopting a British butler tone of voice.The narrator's attempt at an old Jewish man's accent was even more painful to hear.
The entire middle third of the book could have been cut from the book and literally people would not notice.
This book only has hints of Terry Pratchett to it. I have read all of Terry Prachett's Discworld books as well as his other novels as well... but this book definitely felt like it was more Steven Baxter after the first few chapters.The story was limping along the last half of the book, and then started getting interesting the last twenty page... then the story ends super super abuptly. Very unsatisfying.
Niven is a sci-fi concept type writer, in which he takes sci-fi concepts and ponder (such as how a Ringworld could be built, who would build one, etc) all the little details about it. In this the characters are more observers of these sci-fi concepts than anything else. He thinks of some very interesting ideas and in general they are theoretically interesting... although sometimes I felt like saying "I call BS on that." However the main problem I personally have is that the "story" is mostly a framework to explain these concepts and ideas - and half of the book involves one person explaining one of these concepts to another person like "Do you know/understand phenomenon/object X which is standing before us... it's really easy... imagine A, which has B ..." several pages later the other person is like "oh I see" or "whoa" in the Keanu Reeves/Matrix dazed sort of what as his mind is blown by the sheer magnitude of the sci-fi concept. and then they walk around until they reach another weird and interesting sci-fi concept and this is repeated again and again and again and I found myself wanting for more "meat" to the story despite this audiobook being like 12+ hours long. I would have like a little more plot and character development to balance out what I found to be noticeably clumsy plot/character manipulations Niven used to keep the story moving and to show yet another "mind-blowing" sci-concept. Now one could say the Douglas Adam's books are similarly lacking in cohesive plot as he strings his relatively shallow characters through humourous mis-adventures through the galaxy - however I find Adam's prose and writing much more entertaining and witty, whereas Nivens is a bit heavy, clumsy and sounds very much like he's just pumping his thoughts into your brain. I give the book 3 stars instead of 2 because I think part of my disappointment in it is due to my changing tastes as a reader.
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