This is the first example of "literature as an art form"
writing that I can ever remember actually enjoying. And I really, really liked this. I never came across anything quite like it, before. And just how much the narrator was
responsible for how much I liked it...maybe more than 50%. Nick Sullivan truly
deserves the word "incredible" to describe how he carries this story from start to
finish. I've never heard of or read William Gaddis before listening to Mr. Sullivan
doing "JR". By this reading, Gaddis seems like a giant of American letters, a
genuine master artist of the written word.
If you insist on straightforward plotting and rapid pace...forget it. The work is looong
and meanders along routes that don't appear on any literary maps. But it does move
along. Its sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes pessimistic, sometimes
uplifting...but for me, it was never dull. Mr. Gaddis and Mr. Sullivan combine to
produce as honest and entertaining a picture of the American dream as I've ever read.
I've read most of what Allistair Reynolds has published...some more than once.
I've rated him as one of the best hard core SF writers ever. His major characters are often "different". Heroes and villains are as likely to be female as male with various
degrees of sex, color, species differences and artifacts often added on. Even as truly different as some of his main characters were, I have never before gotten the impression that he was forcing them into being politically correct stereotypes. That is the impression I get in this novel.
The good guys, male and female, (almost too good to be true, in some cases) are African and black sounding, or clearly homosexual with contemporary nilistic outlooks while the bad guys are made to sound like mostly white, male Afrikaners and and are comletely contemptible, evil, money grubbers. The heroic types seem motivated only by a one dimensional need to do "good" (as defined by contemporary standards like ...save the elephants...for instance).
Of course, in their quest to do these good deeds, the author does not bind them to
to any special respect for preexisting norms and rules that get in their way, except those imposed by the villains. Both sides are also very rich, which seems to be, in a almost
contradictory fashion, a perfectly acceptable reason to allow them to do what they please.
As I've said, I can enjoy heroes and villains, any sex, any color, any background...if
the writer can make me believe that they are real "human beings" even if that
isn't exactly what they are. Reynold's has done that very thing with pigs, among a number of other not so human creatures, in some of his other works. Their human attributes...good and bad and neither...seemed not only richly complex but to be natural parts of their nature.
The problem with this novel for me is that the characters in these pages are caricatures of politically correct stereotypes. That makes it impossible to care about
what they seem to care about. And what they care about, of course, drives the whole story. John Lee does a good job with the narration, as usual.
Overall, this is not a Reynold's novel I would consider reading a second time.
Worth every minute of the time I spent listening to it. It isn't likely that I would have picked it up and read it, but since Joe Barrett was narrating and the description and many of the reviews piqued my interest. I decided to get the Audible version. Made a great choice, this time. Maybe it helped that I am a native of small town New England, myself or that the
two main protagonists are within a year or two of being my age. Also the "major"
events that affected them, affected me, as well. The novel was a sort of personal homecoming. But, besides those elements, Irving seems to be a very good writer who
knows how to keep a reader involved in his work for hours and hours. Nor does
he ever disappoint with sloppy transitions, simpleton characters or artificial plot
contrivances. Not that some of his ideas don't stretch things more than a bit. But he
always manages to pull these bits off very nicely. How he tells the reader what happens
at the end before the book is halfway through and still manages to keep one in total
suspense is absolutely masterly. And Joe Barret is one of, if not the best American narrator I've ever heard. (Try "Streets of Loredo" by Larry McMurtry for another great
Joe Barrett narration.)
This novel will not be universally appreciated, I believe. But I thought it was
Like some others, first part was ok and fast moving...nice light read (listen) for washing the kitchen floor or peeling potatoes. Maybe the end turned out as well. I couldn't tell you because the introduction of the second, inane plot and the adolescent writing was too much for these old ears...Tom Weiner's narration nowithstanding (he did the best with what he had)....and I gave it up. By the way, if you want to see how to do a competent "intro of a new plot right out of left field after a story line has already been established", read :"The Five Fingers of Death". Several other reviewers have already written about why this book is so very bad. I will only add that my own disappointment was compounded because this book actually started out ok and I had gotten into it by several hours before the switch.
Another "chapter" from the world of Joe Abercrombie and a good one. I consider that
this guy is better at this kind of writing than anyone else, including the more
popular and alleged "masters" of this genre like George RR Martin. However, Michael
Page is not a favorite of mine, Brit or not. I tire of his narration rather quickly. If
Steven Pacey had read it...as he read the first 4 of Abercrombie's novels set
in this world, I would have undoubtedly given it 5 stars.
This novel has a great many good things going for it...it works on several levels (political
thriller, detective story, character study...), good characterizations, clever plot working,
nicely detailed, and well paced. Then comes the ending.
It seemed like the author either couldn't figure out how to end it or just got
tired of the story. Most of the novel before the last few chapters was imaginative
and flowed based on the realistic motives and actions of the characters. The ending,however, seemed glued together with glitter paste. It was much too "cute" and contrived to make much impact or sense...in a society where no man can trust another,
"they lived happily ever after" does not work. And when the good guy goes toe
to toe with the villian...how did that happen?
Maybe because the first 90% was very good, I felt so let down by the ending. The
narrator was excellent and mainly stayed on key for the whole reading. I certainly
recommend listening to the book...even with the contrived ending, its a very good
This is a very dark book, indeed. And it describes a very bleak, modern world...today's
world, in fact, even though the locale is suburban Sweden. One has to wade through
emotional sewers in places to reach the end...which is not all that pretty, either.
But if one has the stomach for it, it is a very good novel. I don't like vampire tales for
the most part, especially the multitudes of soft core porn trash that's currently in vogue using that theme. But this book is outside that box. It places important moral
issues and considerations in front of the reader without losing a beat in the story.
The characters, some just plain awful people, all demonstrate individual breadths of humanity...some mostly evil, others more good than bad, but the author never sticks
in a paper cut out. The plot flows and one doesn't have to struggle to follow it even
though,, to me, it lead to places I've never been to before. I gave the story only 4 stars.
Maybe it deserved 5...but it was just too dark for me to do that.
The narrator, Steven Pacey, is, as far as I'm concerned, the best reader I have ever
heard...no exceptions. He brings out the very best in whatever book he narrates,
Read by someone else, I doubt that I would have enjoyed this book so much.
A twelve year old or younger boy might like it. Trite subplots combined to sort
of make a story...this didn't take much talent to write, I think. Seems to have
been written so the author could start his own multi-volumed series. Excep;t for
pounding in the message that "capitalism and free enterprise" trump all else, character's
motivation was, frankly, cartoonish. As were characters, themselves. Can't decide
whether narrator helped or hindered book. I couldn't finish it. And, I tried.
I've just finished Volume III. The whole trilogy deserves the same 5 stars. Not since I
saw Ken Burn's PBS "The Civil War" have I come across anything nearly as well done and
entertaining. I don't recall how long the other two volumes were (nearly as long or longer, maybe)
but not one of those hours disappointed me. Sometimes I'd get a little confused...so much action, so
many characters, hard to keep it straight in my mind all the time...but then I'd go back a little
and hear the part again and I'd get back on track. Altogether magnificent storytelling.
Grover Gardner kept it all moving and fresh and even, exciting for me. A pleasant and well
paced narration. He made it all live, again. Glad I get to keep the set.
I have a colleague at work from India who is a true student of the modern American scene.
After I started reading Foote's work, it occured to me that today's US cannot really be
understood unless one understood that war and the context it was fought in and the consequences
of it. I highly recommended it to him.
This book reads like a classic...could end up being one, I think. Morgan does stretch one's imagination
and ability to buy into some of his concepts pretty hard, but he never snaps the chord.
His characters play the scenes like real humans...human strengths, weaknesses, all there
to drive the story line to its not so simple, thought provoking, conclusion. There's hints that the hero has a bit of "super" ability to drive a car. I dislike "superpower" junk. Also, his wife as his personal super competent mechanic was a bit of a klunker. But Morgan managed to keep the whole peice in the right key, even so.
Simon Vance played it all with perfect pace and pitch. First rate narration. Consistent, too.
Overall, SF as I think it should be. Up there with the real good ones.
PS...The above praise does not apply to some of his other works which, frankly, contain every
element it takes to make genuine stinkers. Those include everything in the " Takeshi
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