I am a Connie Willis fan but it must be said that she does tend to send her characters off on wild goose chases that can go on too long. The Doomsday book is no exception. The plot develops in two time periods, the early 14th century and the mid 21st century. The story line in the 14th century is fascinating and absorbing and beautifully written. The story line in the 21st century is the one with all the wild goose chases after missing people and countless misunderstandings of vital clues about "what went wrong." This is not helped by the fact that Connie Willis's depiction of the year 2054 does not include mobile phones or the internet so there is endless frustration caused by a land line system that does not seem to have developed beyond the 1950s. Add this to the buffoonery of some two dimensional characters and it all gets a bit tedious. There were times when I actually groaned each time the story went back to the 21st century plot.
That said, the last third of the book was gripping and very difficult to stop listening to. Connie Willis took me into the story and I just wanted to stay there as she pulled all the threads together.
If the book was shorter by a third, it would have been brilliant and the last third of the book, almost made up for the tedium of the 21st century. Almost.
When I chose this book, I was expecting to hear about the world of the Incrementalists and tales of their endeavours to make the world a better place. Instead, the actions of the Incrementalists were no more than hinted at all through the book. As intriguing as the premise was, the development of it was patchy in most places and was not much more than the backdrop to a rather mawkish romance.
The narrators were okay but they had a disconcerting practice of using different accents for the same characters. Mary Kowal portrayed the character Jimmy with a French accent while Ray Porter gave him a gruff American accented voice.
The descriptions of the practice of the Incrementalists and how they work was intriguing but this book was unable to satisfy the need for a story with substance to match the premise.
After the two prequels, I was intrigued but ultimately the book itself was rather a let down. The writing itself was fine but I kept waiting for the story to go somewhere and it just meandered. The most disappointing aspect was that it just turned into another exploration of segregation and fear. The 'returned' could have been any minority group. Not nearly enough exploration into the whole idea of coming back. On the whole, very disappointing, especially after the prequels.
Although the plot of this novel starts out well, it doesn't take long before it starts to unravel. To begin with, it is intriguing and has a great note of mystery. However, it seems that the author laid down too many trails and her attempt to tie them all together gets very weak. So, there are some unanswered questions (what's with the cement mixer?) and some connections that seem to have been stuffed in as an afterthought. Also, the action scenes are so lacking in detail that the characters complete movements that could not be possible. All in all, it feels like the author lost enthusiasm about 3/4 through the book and then just relied on conventional plot development and the briefest of detail to get it through to the end.
The novel opens with a slow tedious scene of revelation that becomes obvious to the audience way before the main character clicks about what is going on. The pace does not improve from that point. Essentially, the novel is an examination of the thought processes and deliberations of 5 people, each gradually revealing a piece to the puzzling question of whether Joy jumped or was pushed. Unfortunately, each of the 5 people are unlikeable, whinging characters, whose lives appear small, tedious and terribly boring. By the end of the never ending wading through all the moaning and complaining, when we might actually get the answer to the question, who cares? The narration was very good. Both narrators did indeed make their characters sound self involved and small minded.
I really wanted to like this because I love everything else Kate Atkinson has written. So I kept trying and re-trying to slog through it. But it is so, so boring. The characters are bland, the setting is bland and every time her life started again, I groaned because I knew there was just more blandness coming. Really disappointed
Kate Morton's skill is in creating intrigue and slowly, teasingly unraveling it. The Secret Keeper is an enjoyable mystery that keeps you guessing and changing you guess almost to the end. The story is set in the present with flashbacks to the London Blitz and England in the 1960's. The story is well paced and the twists are introduced skillfully. The exception to this is the central scene which involves a confusingly executed murder. The scene is so sparsely described that is difficult to picture how it actually happened and whether it would even be possible. Her two main female characters are interesting but all the rest are rather undeveloped and have a two dimensional quality. This impression could also be due to the narrator's lack of skill with accents, which were all rather garbled.
Overall, it is worth listening to, especially if you can forgive bad accents.
In the first book, Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness introduces us to a world of vampires, witches and demons, living amongst humans. This first book of the trilogy describes the relationships between the three types of creature, and their relationship between humans. It then sets up the major protagonists, develops their relationships and loyalties and sends them off on an adventure.
The second book, Shadow of Night tells the story of the adventure which adds nearly nothing new and often falls into mawkish historical romance. Ultimately, listening to it became a marathon of wading through the irrelevancies for the brief flashes of interesting developments.
I finished the book because I believed until the end that something would happen to develop the plot but it never did.
I had eagerly awaited this second book in the trilogy but I am not sure I will bother with the third one.
The narration was excellent.
I chose The Marriage Plot because I really enjoyed Middlesex, and perhaps if I wasn't aware of the comparison between the two books, I would have enjoyed this one more. However, I just couldn't get away from how boring the plot line was. Clearly, it has been very well researched because Eugenides is able to go into minute detail on a number of disparate subjects, from the behaviour of yeast cells to the Victorian novels. However it is the amount of detail that made the story drag for me. That and the fact that I couldn't really feel any empathy for the main characters, who were mostly annoying. The narrator was very good and he did create unique voices for each character, but his best efforts weren't enough to save the plodding nature of the plot.
When I started 14, I was expecting some sort of horror/thriller. I would have to say it is not really in that genre but it has suspense by the bucketful. The whole concept and premise of the book is something completely new to me so it was wonderfully refreshing. For most of it, I really had no idea where the plot was heading and so I was riveted. Some aspects of the ending were a bit predictable but in a satisfying way. The way the book ended creates the assumption that this is the first in a series, but it does wrap up enough pieces to leave you pleasantly anticipating the next one, rather than frustrated by a cliff hanger. The narrator was excellent and portrayed all the different characters perfectly.
Whilst Karin Fossum is obviously a good writer, she just failed to captivate me with this story. The idea is intriguing, an author whose characters petition her and want to discuss the direction she is taking them in. However, both of the main characters, the author and her fictional creation are exceedingly dull. The author is a dreary woman who laments the noise of the birds in the forest and the beauty of her view, wishing for a windowless basement. Her creation is a timid man, too afraid to live, whose daily activities are described in mind numbing detail. I could recognise that the tension was supposed to be building and that intrigue was being introduced to the plot but the characters were just too dull for it to have much effect beyond whingeing.
The narrator was very good, although it seemed like an odd choice to have a man read a story essentially told by a woman. Two narrators may have made a difference but I'm not sure that much could save the tedium of the plot. I kept tuning out for large chunks of time and then coming back to the story thinking I must have missed something and would need to rewind. Sadly, I hadn't missed anything.
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