This is a brutal book, so keep that in mind. I was really happy with this book for about the first half. I was really excited to hear the next chapter to find out what would happen. But then little annoyances started to stack up.
The main annoyance was the narrator. He comes off as someone who, while not having a accent, is not a native English speaker. His annunciation and speaking tempo tend to take you out of the book. Often multiple syllable words come off as separate words in his speaking tempo. So instead of a sentence sounding like "we will loose our ability to" come off as "we will loose our abl it y to". This did not happen all the time, but often enough. Also he is very monotone. Often in discussions it is very hard to tell who is speaking. I feel that had this had a different narrator like say Steven Pacey, it would have been a much more enjoyable book.
Another annoyance was that as the book progressed, I got the feeling the author was a fan of guns (they are all listed by full name and model every time they are mentioned). But that he had not spend much time shooting them. A 15 year old girl is able to double tap someone in the head with a 357 magnum. Kids are able to perfectly manage the recoil of sub machine guns with no practice. These kids are also able to throw knives and hit their targets every time.
I saw in reviews that people were thrown off by all the discussions of who has a crush on who in the middle of a battle. I figure it is something in the Japanese culture that is very important and because we were not raised that way, it is not something that makes sense to us. But I feel that for people who grew up in Japan it makes more sense.
In general though as the book progressed it got less and less realistic, so by the end I felt like I was listening to the narration from a 90's B action movie with Sylvester Stallone. If you had asked me halfway through the book what I thought. I would have told you "this book is great". After finishing I would tell you "read or listen to it if you want to know what people are referring to, but there are other books that are better."
The only thing that this has in common with The Hunger Games is that kids are sent into a area and told to kill each other. I honestly don't know why people think Hunger Games is a crappy ripoff of this.
First let me start by saying, if you have not read all the previous Joe Abercrombie books this is not the book for you. If you have please skip this paragraph. All of Abercrombie's books are chronological. Without knowing the previous 5 books, you will miss a lot of the character motivations, because they are influenced by events in previous books. And in general I think the book will not feel "complete". While this book and his previous 2 are called "stand alone" it just means the book has a end in itself instead of waiting for another book for the ending to the story. Before listening to this, it is important to listen or read in order The First Law Trilogy, Best Served Cold, and The Heroes. I think doing so is important to enjoying Red Country
Red Country sets a new standard for Abercrombie. His writing continues to grow with every book. I laughed out loud, and cheered out loud. This book brings out the full range of emotions, I think more so then his previous works. He did a fantastic job of capturing the "feel" of the wild west, while still staying within his world. I cannot imagine a Abercrombie fan not loving Red Country. Pacey is as usual perfect for narrating this book.
A note on the pre-order download issue. When I had problems, I called customer service. I did not have to wait on hold more then 10 seconds. I got a CS rep that told me in straight talk (paraphrase) "We know about the problem, the files on the server are corrupt. I sent your email to the IT department and they will send you a message when the files are replaced and you can download the book". I could not ask for better support. We all have gotten the CS runaround with phone trees and tiered support. Having the first person I talked to give me a real answer and be proactive about a solution was awesome. I just wish people would not rate the book down because they could not get it immediately.
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