Although the story was a bit thin by the end, I enjoyed the characters and enjoyed the book overall. I wouldn't say it's a must-read, but it's clever with some nice moments and also some hilarious and creative bits of writing. It started off really strong, but the story got increasingly over-the-top (and harder to believe) as it went on. As someone who works in Hollywood, I enjoyed hearing a certain television writer's name being used for a character. Nice homage to a very talented, kind writer who I'm sure the author worked with during her TV writing career!
The two main characters -- Bernadette and her daughter -- were a hoot (and I think they'd describe themselves that way as well).
She really captured the young, inquisitive and exceptionally precocious spirit of Bee, the narrator.
Keep writing, Maria Semple! I'm excited to see what you do next.
The dialogue was so boring -- I felt was like I was listening to completely ordinary people have mundane conversation full of lame cliches, like the main guy said several times, "Guilty as charged" when having supposedly flirtatious conversation with the love interest. The descriptions also sounded so stereotypical. There was nothing special here, nothing that made this distinct or unique. Instead, it felt cliche, and, with so many "Listen, sweethearts" thrown in (does anyone in their 20s talk this way?) stilted and cheesy. The narration was a problem too. Although the narrator enunciated everything well, her interpretation of the characters was off, especially for all of the male characters. Their voices usually went up at the end of each line as if they were from a 1940s radio show, and they also just sounded so unappealing. The voice for Sean in now way matched with the description of who this character is.
Not completely but I would be more selective in the future. I don't mind something light or even sexy -- this was pretty R-rated in places -- but the writing was so basic and uninteresting and the narrator did not serve the story at all.
Her characterizations of the men in the story did not work. No one sounded appealing or interesting. The main character worked best with Gia's voice. The narration was fine, though sometimes she put too much of a spin on things, but I guess that goes with the soap opera feel of the book.
I like the idea of the setting and enjoy a good love story, but I couldn't figure out what these characters actually liked about each other aside from their good looks and a strong physical connection.
I love the idea of this book but I wasn't crazy about the actual story. Rather than a main character who decides to be a spy as a great way to make extra money, which she needs, she falls into it by accident and as it turns out, those around her do most of the spying and have most of the clever ideas. Things constantly happen TO her rather than her driving the story. Perhaps the second book in the story works better since the main character is already a spy, but this one felt like a mess. It was not what I expected at all, though I did enjoy spending time in the world in which the story takes place.
Love the concept and the world; disliked the set up of the story and how it all unfolded. I did enjoy that there were many possible guilty parties but I wanted the main character to be the smartest person in the room and find ways to solve the mystery. Instead, she was very reactive.
She did a solid job but was quite difficult to understand at times.
I believe there's a whole series of these but I doubt I'll listen to another. They're very short books -- I definitely don't feel like they're worth $14.95. I got mine on sale for $4.95, which felt about right considering what a quick listen it is.
Powerful, moving, inspiring
The narrator truly brought me into the world of the story with what sounded like an authentic South African accent and his excellent interpretation of the emotional meaning behind the words.
Although the story was larger than life at times and the main character occasionally too good to be true, the writing was lovely and moving and there are beautiful, touching, sad moments that will live with me for a long time. The writer weaves throughout the notion of the "loneliness birds," which is such a visual way of describing what the main character was experiencing. I loved being taken into this world and loved hearing about the various people who made a difference in the main character's life and who taught him how to strive for the best. The characters were fantastic. I do wish a certain character who was introduced early on had made an appearance at the end to see how his kindness changed a boy's life, but still great even without that.
I thoroughly enjoyed most of this book -- the two actors doing the reading excellently bring the characters to life, the writer makes every detail and emotion count and goes to great lengths to establish the characters' psychological make up and relationships with each other, the characters are intricately layered and the story is loaded with fun twists and turns and complications.
I was completely on board, enjoying every second and waiting with baited breath to see how it would end... until I reached reached the last 40 or so pages, at which point the story takes a turn to the truly unbelievable. I won't spoil anything for you, but I will say that for me, the ending was completely unsatisfying. Based on everything the author had established thus far, I just couldn't believe that the characters would make the choices they ultimately do and I was thoroughly disappointed by that. What ultimately happens doesn't seem true to everything that's come before or to the characters the author so elegantly created.
I would still recommend this because it was fun -- sometimes I couldn't wait to get back to my car so I could hear what happens next! -- but I just wish it had ended differently. Ultimately, the story didn't work for me.
Yes, if the story appealed to me.
Both actors gave amazing performances.
There was way too much unnecessary backstory and whole sections that could have been cut out, i.e. the story would have been the same without them. I absolutely hated having to sit through one character's entire movie pitch as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world (it wasn't, and it wasn't necessary for the plot in any way), and the chapter from one character's memoir? Ugh! I found myself saying aloud "Who cares?" half the time and "Get on with it!"
Pasquale was the only one I ever cared about. I didn't really connect with any of the other characters, except maybe Claire a little but the fact that she would stay with her lame boyfriend who was horrible to her just because he was hot made me lose all interest in this character. Mostly this was fully of shallow, unappealing people who didn't really evolve or grow.
I would definitely cut the movie pitch and also the chapter from Michael Dean's memoir. I would majorly cut tons of back story from Pat and a lot from Dee as well. Back story is nice when it helps move the plot forward but most of this was telling us things we didn't NEED to know. For me, the movie pitch felt like the author was trying to show Hollywood what they missed out on, i.e. maybe he tried his hand there and things didn't work out, and it turns out that's kind of what happened. There's some lovely language here but I was too distracted by the loads of extraneous information to appreciate it.
The book started out beautifully which made me excited about what was to come -- it felt quite cinematic and I couldn't help but think about the great movie this would make -- but there were way too many sections that felt unessential in moving the story forward. Ultimately, I felt like I sat through tons of "filler." The story had interesting facets but I did not enjoy the way it was told or most of the characters and cannot recommend it. The ending was unsatisfying and the only moment that moved me in the entire book was when Pasquale was reunited with Dee -- not because I cared about her at all but because I cared about him. I never believe there was any sort of real connection between them though and could not have cared less about most of the other characters. Sorry if this is a harsh review but I was really frustrated from about 1/3 of the way through the book all the way to the end.
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