When I read about the premise of the story, I was excited to buy and listen to this book. I have enjoyed a few of the other post-apocalyptic, breakdown of society, survival type stories. But I am sorry to say that in this particular story the characters and the dialogue all but ruined the whole thing. I somehow forced myself to finish the whole book, but I will definitely not be moving on to the next installment from the series. While listening, I kept thinking, where does the author get the idea that people in 1998 America would actually speak this way? The speaking style is closer to that from generations past, like that of our great grandparents maybe, but it certainly did not sound to me like modern American banter to me. I almost quit listening a number of times after one of the main characters, Mike Havel, started off yet another sentence with "Christ Jesus, but..." (he says this about 50 times throughout the book). Also, how are readers supposed to buy that people in this situation could realistically pick up so many lost arts so quickly?? One minute, it's the modern age. Then a few months later, everyone who has managed to survive is busy farming, preparing for harvest, hunting and fighting with crossbows and swords, and riding horses like they were plucked straight out of the middle ages without more time than the blink of an eye. I'm sorry, but there is no way these things could possibly happen so quickly. All this combined with the constant barrage of Wiccan preachings and Gaelic proverbs was just too much annoying garbage to make any of the good stuff worth my time.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I think from now on, however, I will be more cautious about buying books narrated by the author. Sebold's narration is uninspiring, to say the least. As an alternative, you might try instead the other audio version available, but unfortunately you can only buy it on CD (no digital downloads available that I could find). As for the story itself, I loved it all the way through but was a bit disappointed with the ending. It's hard to elaborate without giving away all the details, but I will just say that there was one major issue that really left me seriously unsatisfied. The character Ruth has a moment of clarity which would bring the whole family all the much needed closure they have been longing for, and then.... nothing.
The author does a great job of telling a sappy sweet tearjerker teenage love story. However, it's sort of a little pet peeve of mine when a story uses the same words/phrases over and over again (apparently without getting out a thesaurus and trying to vary it up a little more). That said, I couldn't help but notice though that he kept using the phrase, "if you know what I mean..." way too many times. Perhaps the editors didn't think to tell him it was beginning to get redundant after about the sixth or seventh time he uses it. Also, without getting too much into spoilers, I found the ending a little disappointing (40 years later he hadn't moved forward with his life at all?? Sorry but that's just sad for the guy).
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