Bangkok Tattoo is probably the most compelling book I've encountered in the nearly three years I've been an Audible listener. It is a great many contradictory things: violent, compassionate, graphic, delicate, sexual, sensual, spiritual, surreal, earthy, funny at times, horrible at others, extremely well written and well read. The character development is superb, and the portrait of Bangkok is fascinating. It's an incredible read. Audible offers Burdett's Bangkok 8 (the first of this series) only in an abridged version, so I bought a hardcopy so that I could experience every word. I was not disappointed.
I'm not sure where the other reviewers are coming from. Perhaps it's a matter of morality. Burdett makes no judgments. Bangkok is presented "as is," as are the characters. Prostitutes, corrupt police officials, transexuals, madams, American tourists, most of whom are men who come to Bangkok specifically for sexual purposes--all of these are presented, not sympathetically, but as human beings rather than as caricatures.
I cannot recommend this book too highly, and I urge Audible to find an unabridged version of Bangkok 8 for us, as well. BTW, although Bangkok 8 is a precursor to this book, it is not necessary to have read it first. There are a few things you will not know, but each book stands on its own--a moving experience that will haunt you long after you've finished it.
Those who are King devotees will very likely be bemused by my review, but I've only read a couple of Stephen King's books and that was long ago, so this review is for those who, like myself, might consider themselves newcomers and relative strangers to his work.
It must be extremely difficult to write truly scary books, since so few authors seem to be able to pull it off. The Shining, however, is a masterpiece of the genre, and this audio version is perfectly executed, resulting in a work that is simply breathtaking.
What impressed me most, though, is the quality of the writing. The story is told from the inside, out. It is terrifying because of the meticulous dissection of each character's state of mind, so artfully accomplished that every thought, every action seems not only plausible but real. Not one scene, not one thought, not one word seems fabricated. There are scenes that could only occur in nightmares of the worst kind, but King transports the reader so completely that it seems it is we who are caught in the dream that is not a dream but is evil, itself.
I downloaded The Shining because of all of the hype surrounding the release of Dr. Sleep, and I decided that, if I were going to read that, I should begin at the beginning of the story. Dr. Sleep has a lot to live up to, if it's to be a worthy successor to The Shining. Although I don't read much horror fiction, The Shining would be a masterpiece in any genre. I will just join my voice to all the others who have said that it is entirely worth your time and your Audible credit. Neither the book nor the narrator could be improved upon.
The narrator's voice is pleasant, but she has no idea what a real Southerner sounds like. As for Cajun, well, it's just embarrassing. Furthermore, she repeatedly pronounces "fleur-de-lis" as "fler de leese" and "jewelry" as "jewlery." Oh, and "objet d'arte is "Ob jet duh artay." The coup de grace, though, is when one of the male characters treats Jane with condensation (sic), which I am rather certain Faith Hunter wrote as "condescension."
This is the first audio book during which I found myself trying to glimpse the printed word beneath the hash the narrator made of it. I think Jane is a lot smarter than the narrator portrays her to be and that Hunter wrote a better book than comes off in this audio version. While it's nothing special in the world of urban fantasy, the book would have been enjoyable were it not for the clunkers thrown in by K. Hvam. Since it appears that she narrates future books in the series, I won't be pursuing it.
Kelsey is an annoying, silly, immature character that no adult (and hardly any children) could possibly relate to. I can't imagine that the teenagers this book was probably written for have ever been as insipid as our "heroine." Way, way too much time is spent in Kelsey's games, nastiness, and emotional chaos around Ren. It is impossible to understand why any man would ever be interested in this shallow, obnoxious female. She is definitely not worth it. Further, why is this book focused on her "relationship" to begin with??? Please don't waste a credit on this nothing of a book. Too bad. The supporting characters are not nearly so abhorrent, and it could have been a good story, had the writing been less pedantic and the lead character even tolerable. Oh, and if the writer had any concept of dialogue. Example? "Fine." "Fine." "Fine!" Really. So, seriously, as Kelsey would say, "Don't get your hopes up, Mister." Ewwww.
Fun, light read. Nothing whatever serious about this book, and, yeah, it's a romance of a kind, but the sex isn't overplayed, the accent is on the comedic, and it comes off, well, like a story you'd tell over drinks that has all your friends rolling on the floor. You didn't expect Moby Dick, did you?
Volume 1 of The Last Lion is one of the top five Audible books among the hundreds I have experienced. Manchester's scholarship is astounding, and the story of this great man's life and times is endlessly fascinating. That much remains true in Volume 2, but the book is tragically diminished by the narration of Richard Brown.
Frederick Davidson, the narrator of Volume I, was absolutely perfect. When Manchester quoted Churchill, Davidson spoke in Churchill's own voice. It was as if someone had recorded Churchill, himself, for each statement. Churchill's humor and emotion come through as if he were speaking directly to the listener. Brown, on the other hand, cannot even begin to imitate Churchill's intonation and cadence, much less the subtler meanings behind the words. As a matter of fact, Brown would have been better off, as would the listener, if he had not even tried. If he had just read Manchester's words, it would not have come off as so, well, amateurish. The only thing Brown's rendition of Churchill and Churchill himself have in common is an English accent.
It is deeply disappointing. I am hoping that I can convince myself to finish this volume, simply for the historical information it can provide. However, that's a far cry from the way I felt about Volume I, when I could scarcely force myself to turn off my Nano early enough to get a decent night's sleep. I feel like a kid who got stiffed by Santa. I just don't get it. Whoever decided that ANYONE other than Frederick Davidson should render this work needs his (her?) head examined.
But on several occasions, one or two sentences were repeated (recorded twice). Other than that minor annoyance, it was an interesting read. Intelligent story, well written.
Nothing happens. Most of the book consists of silly musings on the nature of "Dark Passengers." Unfortunately, instead of engendering a thoughtful "hmmmm" from the reader, these rambling and infantile attempts at philosophy are FAR more likely to elicit an "Oh, PLEASE!" And that's what you'll be saying, by the time you get to the end--"Oh, PLEASE let this be OVER!" As opposed to previous Dexter books, this one is boring, pedantic, and trite. Do not buy.
I enjoyed this book enough to look forward to the second in the series. It is a bit slow in the beginning, where it goes into a lot of pseudo-technical gibberish in great detail for some unknown reason. Nevertheless, hang in there. It gets better, and, all in all, is a very entertaining read. The narrator's fine, although there seems to be no logic for the dialects she chooses to differentiate the characters. Ah well, it serves its purpose I suppose, and I don't see the point in being hypercritical of light reading. Relax and enjoy!
Barely tolerable for the first ten to twelve hours, even on fastest setting. Replete with stock phrases. Mediocre writing, at best. I don't know whether it got better toward the end (if you can call it that) or whether I simply got used to this level of writing, over time. I'm pretty persistent, once I begin a book. As to whether I'll soldier on to the next, I kinda doubt it, despite the sleazy trick of leaving the reader completely hanging, which I suppose is the best way the author could think of to get readers to buy another book, since she couldn't manage to enthrall readers in a truly compelling tale. Keep in mind there are three additional LONG books before you get to the end(?), assuming there is one.
Characters on a course of vengeance that even they can't buy into; battle scenes that go on forever, as in hacked through the gut with spewing blood and entrails, axed off at the forearm with spewing blood, etc., on and on without end, and then more of the same. Shame. If this were abridged to a third its length, it might've been worthwhile. No way am I signing up for more of this.
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