This story was riveting from start to finish. It is another example of Murakami's ability to tell a taut, gripping, mysterious, and intellectual story without pretentiousness. What I love about Murakami, and this book in particular, is that he asks us to love characters whom we might ordinarily dismiss, simple characters. In this case, we root for a simple old man who can talk to cats and who was struck "dumb" during a childhood accident, an accident that is the central mystery of the book (in this sense, the book reminded me of McEwan's Enduring Love). Whereas in everyday life, he would be dismissed or people would feel frustrated by his slowness, in Murakami's world, this man has a special gift and is honored for it. Murakami asks us to question what it means to be "smart," "dumb," "old," and "young." And even though we almost always find ourselves seeing life through a young, male character's eyes, Murakami's respect, understanding, and love for women pervades this book, as it does his others.
The readers are spectacular, too. If I'm not mistaken, these readers are some of the cast of the His Dark Materials trilogy, including Yoric Byrnison, Will, and Lee Scoresby. The choice of cast makes sense, because this story shares many themes with the trilogy, save religion.
This is the first Christie novel I've read/listened to, and I'm so glad I did! A friend berated me for beginning at the end of the main character/Christie hero Hercule Poirot's career, but I'm not one who needs to begin at the beginning.
I'm not sure if this is the case across Christie novels since I'm new to her fiction, but this text is hilarious! Christie's wit is sharp and the reader gets it, which makes the book a really compelling listen. I'm so terrible at making sense of and figuring out mysteries that I tuned out a little during some of the scenes in which Poirot dissects the mystery, but the narrator kept bringing me back.
I will say this: although I am a terrible detective, I figured this one out in advance, which makes me think this plot might annoy some more astute puzzle-solvers.
I highly recommend, though, and am off to another Christie novel.
I feel guilty giving this audiobook four stars, because it really was a page-turner. Where Collins excelled was in the conception of the Hunger Games, an event that almost any reader can understand the ethical implications of. My problem with the book is that Collins' writing skill is beneath the book's conception, so that midway through, the quality of the writing really suffers. I was disappointed by the games--I kept waiting for action that the lead character's skill level promised. I also didn't expect this book to devolve into a Stephanie Meyer-esque love story, but that is exactly what it did. The dialogue suffered along with the plot as the love story unfolded. A disappointing ending to a strong start. Still, four stars. Oh--the reader was way too old for the main character! She was kind-of a shocking choice.
This story deserves 4.5 stars in my view and the narration around a 3.5 or 4. Although I love Scott Brick, he trips over the early Americans' diction in this book, and the rest of the narrators have a surprisingly hard time consistently using accents.
The story, however, is fabulous overall. It does meander quite a bit more than Ender's Game and some of Card's other texts; for instance, Card launches into an unexpected diatribe on Ben Franklin's "Americanization" of "Americans" for what seems like 20 minutes, and this diatribe has nothing to do with the story, as far as I can tell. And religious fervor seems to be a subject of contention in the book, or at least the battle between religion, science, and magic. But if you like these subjects and Card's other books, you will probably find this story compelling.
Also compelling are Alvin Maker and the cast of characters who surround him. They really make this book, though it is the story of Alvin and his power to "make" things whole that makes me want to read the second book in this series.
As is the case with all of the Dune texts I’ve read, this one stuns in its capacity to tell a compelling story while using challenging language that asks the reader to think. There’s something to be said for simple and imaginative books such as Harry Potter and for series like the Enders Game series, which was compelling and inventive and yet scattered, because of Orson Scott Card’s self-professed carelessness in sketching out his fictive worlds. Yet there is something more profound about Herbert’s works, which hint that the author was a bit of a madman and a genius. His worlds are brilliantly demarcated, consistent, and inventive. In this book—which is fabulously narrated—we see the consequences of some of the actions taken by our favorite characters from Dune. As with all of the books in the series, it is interesting to read Herbert’s philosophical science fiction, which often challenges us to think through murky moral territory and imagine what actions we’d take in a similar universe. It is also fascinating to read about a fictive world with concerns that are so different from our own, while still resonating with our political situation (such as how water and spice is used and consumed, and the parallels in our world of water rights and the sale of drugs and weapons).
This story builds more slowly than the Wind-up Bird Chronicles, so you might want to give it time if you aren't engaged immediately. The narrator was also a bit silly; I didn't love his narration of female voices. Those are my only two critiques, and they are minor in the face of Murakami's fabulous writing.
Although not quite as mystical/mysterious as the Chronicles, this book still has a magical bent. The story seems really ordinary until the characters end up at a sanatorium. At that point, normal rules as suspended, and Murakami brings in his skill for making the ordinary world seem just slightly off-kilter.
And there are many scenes that are laugh-out-loud funny.
I read the other Stephanie Meyer books and liked them, although they are not as well-crafted as Harry Potter or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I liked--but did not love--this audiobook.
First, I found the narrator's voice just okay. It's raspy quality didn't seem right for Bella.
While a really skillful writer can handle adolescent themes with depth, Meyer seems to have to return again and again to tropes in order to write: weddings, fast cars, expensive clothes, beautiful bodies, perfect love, etc.
I thought I would have to scream if I had to hear one more time how handsome Edward is. I like where the story went, though--
This book is entertaining, if a little cliched and expected. The narrator is great. The story is, well, Austen. The plot revolves around marriage, money, manners, and morality. One character in the book serves as an unwitting moral compass around which the other characters revolve and, quite frankly, it is easy to get tired of this character's prudence while all the while rooting for her success. Much of the moral musings--while true to the time--are outdated and oppressive. Still, the book is enjoyable. Austen is not, however, at the literary level of a Wharton or Eliot, two others whom I have been reading so much of that perhaps this review is a little unfair in its comparison.
This book is an incisive portrayal of high society life, written from the vantage point of a woman without the means to sustain such a life. It is gripping, elegant, and tightly written. I did not give this book 5 stars because its narrator, Anna Fields, is the wrong choice for this (and most) audiobooks. I've listened to several of her readings, and I am always astounded by how poorly she produces male voices. All men sound the same when she reads them, and they sound comical. The voice of one of the protagonists in this text can hardly be distinguished from the Native American voices she produced for a Louise Erdrich text I listened to. This book should have been read by someone who is very good at imitating Anglicized high-society voices, since such voices would have been consistent with the time period and used by these characters. If you can, I'd purchase the audiobook on Audible of this text that is read by a different reader.
I cannot praise this book series enough. Pullman creates a complex magical world that is well thought-through, believable, touching, and ethical, without being heavy-handed. His characters and their relationships with one another are heartbreaking, and the reading is fantastic. Animal lovers will particularly love the bond between various characters in the book.
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