First of all, this book is way more violent than anything I read led on. I kept having to pull my earbuds out when it got too gory but then I couldn't tell when the gruesome bits were over. I'm not overly squeamish, either, but this proved too much for me.
Also, in terms of performance, the narrator did something strange with his voice every time someone "screamed" or "cried" something, which happened about twice every chapter. I found it extremely distracting and it frequently pulled me out of the story.
Overall, I don't think this is a bad read, it just isn't for me. But if you, like me, have an aversion to five minute descriptions of someone's intestines being ripped out or to narrators doing strange grunt/screams mid-chapter, it might be best to skip this one.
Finally, a return to dangerous vampires! While Holly Black's vampires are definitely still sexy, they're also downright scary. They murder and lie without a second thought. Their lives are both glamorous and blood-soaked. Coldtown reminded me of Anne Rice's vampires, decadent, sensuous creatures that were just as likely to slit your throat as kiss it.
The characters, both human and vampire, were flawed but mostly understandable. Even the most vile, ruthless vampire had reasons that made some sort of twisted sense and while the main character was a little bit of an idiot, her fierce loyalty to her family and friends made it easy to overlook her less intelligent decisions.
In a world of series books, I was also glad to see that this was a stand alone title. The ending is ambivalent enough to leave the reader wondering about the characters and the world is definitely rich enough to revisit but the story is still very clearly wrapped up.
I would highly recommend this one to fans of Anne Rice and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes or anyone looking for a little more monster in their vampires.
The idea behind Uglies is a good one: everyone undergoes a procedure at age 16 to become "Pretty" so that no one gets any unfair advantages from being naturally beautiful, sort of a cosmetic socialism. It is a sign of a good premise that I found myself thinking that the logic made sense. However, the execution, both of the society and the story, is less than impressive. The story ended up feeling slow and plodding with long periods of very little development. I had a hard time making myself care about the main character when it took her so long to accomplish anything.
The pacing of this book was way off, briefly racing and then becoming glacial for long stretches.
The narrator had a voice that managed to be both nasal and flat at the same time. I had a hard time keeping track of which character was speaking and I patently disliked some characters purely because of how annoying they sounded in the narration.
Maybe, depending on how it was cast and how much action was added to the story. It would be very a very visually interesting film.
I have to mention that the addition of a love triangle really cheapened the story, in my opinion. The friendship between the two female protagonists was already interesting given their different views on the "Pretty" surgery and political ideas, there was no need to throw in a man for them to fight over. I'm pretty sick of that particular plot device and the implication that the only thing that makes a girl's life worth reading about is a love interest.
I really, really wanted to like Scowler. The audiobook won the Odyssey award so I thought I'd give it a shot. It's hard to sum up how I felt about Scowler because I can recognize that it did some really great stuff and dealt with very big and important questions but I didn't enjoy reading (or listening to) it.
The story follows Ry Burke and his family after a meteorite crashes on their farm. Through flashback, we learn that the family has been terrorized by patriarch Marvin Burke but that Marvin was incarcerated 9 years ago, leaving Ry, his mother, and younger sister Sarah to pick up the pieces and try to recover from the abuse they suffered. However, Marvin has escaped from prison and returned to the farm. As a child, Ry created three imaginary friends to help survive his experience with Marvin and now they're back, resurrected by both the presence of the meteorite and the menace Marvin presents.
It's a good, although complicated, plotline but the story is EXTREMELY dark and very violent. Some of the tortures Krause invents for Marvin to carry out are downright haunting. Thankfully, we don't get too gruesome of a depiction of these tortures, the tone is almost clinical and detached. Still, there is plenty to leave the listener cringing in imagined pain and sympathy. But the subject matter is still very difficult, there is very little light for any of these characters and the result is extremely bleak and depressing. (WARNING: This book may also serve as a trigger for those who have experienced emotional or physical abuse.)
The narrator, Kirby Heyborne, does an admirable job of representing all of the characters' voices, especially that of Ry's most horrible imaginary friend, Scowler. He builds suspense well without seeming cheesy or frantic. However, that didn't save the story for me.
If you're looking for a thought-provoking horror story with plenty of depth and symbolism, this is probably the audiobook for you. However, if you don't want to read something so heavy or are squeamish about violence, it might be best to give this one a pass.
I was very excited to start this book as I had read a number of positive reviews, both on this site (and Amazon and Goodreads) and in magazines. In fact, even after reading it I'm inclined to think that I missed something important because I can't understand how anyone could find this book enjoyable.
Our narrator, Nate, is one of the most selfish, snobbish, unlikable narrators I've ever come across. I don't always have to like the narrator of a story (Dorian Gray anyone?) but listening to Nate complain about his life and his lack of respect for pretty much every woman in his life for eight and a half hours--or 250 pages--was like sitting next to someone on the train that just won't shut up. He was like a self-indulgent child that couldn't understand why everything in his life wasn't perfect and gets bored with everything that is. This was probably the point of the book, I realize. But for me to enjoy a book about someone like this, there has to be some redeeming quality in the narrator or some interesting secondary character. There was not.
The plot of the book largely follows Nate's relationship with a new girl, Hannah. To give some background, he has a pretty dysfunctional romantic history. Though it's never explicitly stated, he doesn't seem to consider women his intellectual equals. For maybe the first month of their relationship, the story is very sweet. I found myself hoping that the point of the story was that people can change, that basic human kindness can be found in even the most unlikely of hosts. But then everything starts to deteriorate. I hated Nate for the way he treated Hannah--and women in general. I hated Hannah for being a smart woman and putting up with such a prick. The secondary characters are all caricatures--the Harvard playboy who only dates beautiful women, the bitter intellectual woman who is obsessed with marriage, the slutty damaged girl that every man is fascinated with, even the immigrant parents who came to America to give their son a better life. And I didn't care one way or another what happened to any of them.
I was miserable almost the entire time I read this book. It seemed to be a dreary, hopeless look at the death of romance and human decency in favor of pseudo-intellectual snobbery. (The narrator repeatedly mentions wanting to date a girl who has read Svevo and other hipster-obscure authors.) If you're in the mood to read something that makes you hate relationships or want to feel very smart, this is probably the book for you. Otherwise, skip it.
It took a little while for me to get used to the narrator, who has high-pitched, almost child-like voice. But she did a great job adjusting to the many different characters and viewpoints who tell the story. It's a funny read (or listen) that still manages to touch on some serious topics, such as family, mental health, and belonging.
I first read Gatsby in high school for my American Lit class but with the recent release of a new movie adaptation, I wanted to reread the book so that the story would be fresh in my mind. Listening to the story is a very different experience from reading it. While reading it on the page, I was much more interested in the symbolism of the story (although that probably had more to do with the American Lit class and less to do with the format) but listening to it, I found myself lost in the glitz and glamor of the story and the characters. That said, I won't review the story itself as that has been done to death by people much more intelligent and qualified than me.
The narration was brilliant. It took me a few minutes to get used to Gyllenhaal's voice but I think this was due to my familiarity with the story and the mental narrator I had invented and not to any fault of the narrator. Once I settled into the listen, I very much enjoyed Gyllenhaal's style of narration. As an actor, he does a nice job of separating character's voices and accents without sounding cheesy and his voice soothing without being boring.
If you haven't read The Great Gatsby, you absolutely must. Love it or hate it, it's a classic. And whether or not you've read it before, I would recommend this version with Jake Gyllenhaal. His performance brought a freshness to a well-known work of literature.
I don't have anything against multiple voice narration when it's done well. For example, when narrators alternate as the point of view changes from chapter to chapter. However, I found it very distracting in this book as the voice often changed mid-sentence along with dialog. I had a hard time listening to it because I found that so annoying. Too bad because it's a pretty decent story.
I'm not sure why so many people complained about Roy Dotrice's narration, I thought he did a really good job. He's a bit gruff sounding but that works well with the story. I held out for a long time before reading this but I'm glad I did. Excellent world-building and lots of political intrigue.
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