I read Gateway back in the '70s and remembered it as a book that sounded cool but disappointed me. Looking back, I wondered if perhaps it was just too mature or too difficult for me to relate to at a young age so I decided to give the audiobook a try. Oliver Wyman's reading is excellent and author Frederick Pohl's basic premise of abandoned alien ships that launch to pre-programmed, but unknown, destinations is one of the better ideas in science fiction. The book never quite delivers on the evocative promise of it's central idea, never quite evokes the sense of wonder, or horror, that you might expect from it. Instead, it focuses on it's flawed central character, Robinet Broadhead, as he faces both his fear of the unknown and the psychological after effects of a journey in one of the alien vessels. It makes for an interesting story but there's so little exploration of the intriguing concept that it's ultimately disappointing. We get a feel for Broadhead's experience but not enough of a feel for what humanity is finding out there, what the alien ships (and alien constructed setting of Gateway itself) are like. The author almost seems disinterested in them. They're a means of exploring Broadhead's character but as a character, he's not fully developed enough for that goal to make Gateway a completely satisfying read.
In the end, while Gateway is a good book and I can recommend it, my second experience with it was as disappointing as the first. If you choose to listen, just go in knowing this book is primarily a character study. Armed with that information, you may enjoy it much more than I did.
This novel won the Hugo award and was nominated for the Nebula award as well so I went into it with relatively high expectations. Unfortunately, it turned out to be somewhat of a bore. A Fire Upon the Deep contains some original and fascinating ideas but the characterization is stiff and the novel really drags in the middle. Vinge seems more interested in exploring the medieval world on which he's stranded some of his characters than the complex and interesting galactic structure he's created, populated with numerous intelligent races and super intelligences so powerful they are impossible for lesser being like humans to comprehend.
Peter Larkin's reading contributed to my disappointment with the book as well. He used cartoony voices for a number of the alien characters that made it increasingly difficult to take the book seriously.
Dick Hill's expert reading of this dud wasn't enough to save it and after nearly 8 hours of dull listening, I finally bailed. Perhaps there's an unexpected twist and a great payoff at the end of this mystery but the ride was so dull and predictable, even with a great reading, that I lost interest in reaching the destination. This novel is riddled with clichés, the main character isn't particularly likable OR interesting and the pacing didn't work for me. By the middle of the book I was just too bored to care what happened next.
Felix J. Palma's first novel, The Map of Time, was a clever, charming story full of surprises, well-written characters and a wonderful mix of history and fiction. It used H.G. Wells classic novel, The Time Machine as a launching point and Wells himself as a character.
Wells is back in this sequel, which draws upon another of his most famous novels, The War of the Worlds, for inspiration. Unfortunately, while the first book was clever and inspired, this novel was more like a bad Hollywood sequel. It tries too hard to replicate the experience of the first book and consequently feels forced and labored from start to finish. It was a 22+ hour slog. In his effort to deliver the kind of unexpected surprises he gave readers in The Map of Time, the author pushes too far, repeatedly forcing the issue. The surprises feel labored and at one point, he thoroughly betrays the reader's trust in way he probably thought was clever and playful but was, in reality, so disappointing that I almost bailed on the book immediately after finishing that chapter. In the end, maybe that would have been a good idea.
Palma is a talented writer and I'm hoping he'll put that talent to better use on his next book and leave the themes and characters of his first two behind.
I have no desire to give anything about this excellent novel away to interested listeners so suffice to say that it's read perfectly by Grover Gardner and that author William Landay has written an excellent tale that explores the responsibilities of parenting, the consequences of accusation, the impact a family member's choices can have on the rest of the family and much, much more. The characters are well developed, the legal scenes fascinating and the book keeps the listener guessing until the end, which is memorable, to say the least.
I like Stephen King's writing, particularly his flair for character, but I've always preferred his shorter work. Some of his novels are so massive and ambitious that for me, they suffer a bit. This lean, tightly written tale doesn't have that problem. It's a coming of age story, a mystery and a ghost story all rolled into one and King's ability to write believable, interesting characters is definitely on display. It's less "hard" than many of the other entries in the Hard Case Crime library but it's the most enjoyable thing I've read or listened to by King in quite some time. I recommend it but not for King fans expecting a horror novel.
Michael Kelly's reading of the book was superb.
I bought Deliverance on a whim, because Audible had it on sale, and I didn't listen to it for quite some time. That was a mistake. I should have listened to this superb novel immediately, it's one of the better audiobooks i've experienced, perfectly read by Will Patton and vividly imagined by author James Dickey. Dickey was a poet and it's apparent in his insightful writing. His story of a journey into the wilderness gone wrong was incredible. Listen to it. Read it. Just make sure you don't miss it! It's a great book.
Dark Places is a tightly plotted, skillfully written novel that goes exactly where the title suggests it will go. It's dark indeed, so much so that you may feel you need a shower when it's over. That said, it's also a very satisfying listen, well read and gripping. Flynn resolves the mystery she sets up well and she keeps the reader guessing along the way. She also understands her characters (particularly Libby) and the darker side of human nature and that understanding makes the book that much more disturbing. It is the characters as much as the events in Dark Places that unsettle the reader/listener. I can only imagine that writing a book like this, delving into such characters enough to understand them, must be an unsettling experience as well. Highly recommended.
Into the Wild was a good listen, well worth the credit. Krakauer meanders off his central subject a bit but always stays in interesting territory, detailing some of his personal experiences braving the wild as well as those of others. He paints an interesting portrait of Christopher McCandless, helping the reader grasp what may have have motivated the adventurous youth and what may have ultimately befallen him in the Alaskan wilderness.
I'll state right off the bat that the headline of this review may be unfair but I felt like I should give fair warning. I loved Grossman's previous novel, "Soon I Will be Invincible" and highly recommend it. I was looking forward to "You" but unfortunately, it was a disappointing listen. For me, it was the equivalent of listening to a gamer talk about their character or tell you about their video game experience for 13+ hours.
Video games are fun. I've been playing them most of my life and they can be an immersive, engaging experience. One of this novel's themes deals with that aspect of gaming, the degree to which a player identifies with the protagonist they're playing. However, video game characters rarely have much depth and that's where "You" runs into trouble. Grossman's a talented writer but the stakes in this book never feel high and the characterization is pretty thin. There are long passages describing game play that I found very dull, difficult listening. The descriptions of generic characters in fairly generic fantasy and science fiction settings engaging in the sort of activities you'd expect from that combination of elements really dragged. Perhaps readers who avidly play the kind of games described in the book or readers with a keen interest in video game design and programming will find this novel an engrossing listen but for me, it was a tedious slog and I barely made it to the end. After enjoying "Soon I Will Be Invincible" so much, it pains me to say that about "You" but I still consider Austin Grossman a talent worth watching and I hope I'll find his next novel more satisfying.
Meanwhile, unless you're really captivated by the sort of characters and experiences found in fantasy games, think twice about investing your time in this novel. It may not be for you.
Crouch keeps the story moving and the plot twists coming in this dark-but-entertaining suspense novel. I purchased it after listening to his superior (and, if I'm not mistaken, more recent) book Pines, which I highly recommend. Abandon is less satisfying, in part because it's central mystery is solved long before it ends and there were a few too many twists and coincidences for my taste. However, that's nitpicking and if you're looking for an entertaining thriller with some old west flavor (the novel flips back and forth and tells the story of Abandon in two different times), this book is a good ride.
I thought the narration was a little stiff but Luke Daniels seemed to warm up as he read and he did a nice job with accents and dialects. His overall performance, like the book itself, is solid.
The highlight for me was an unexpected bonus, a related short story at the end, read by the author, who does a fine job. I actually enjoyed it more than the novel itself!
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.