I, of course, love David Tennant as Dr. Who; the light spirit with a somber heart. This book is reflective of that, as well as being a pretty darn good mystery. I'm writing this over a year after listening to it and the story still remains fresh in my memory. If you are a David Tennant/Dr. Who fan, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this book.
While I'm still interested in the characters, there is too much repeation in all of the storylines in this second book. I understand that the characters are growing in their knowledge/skills, but they are doing it at such a slow pace that it feels like the book is happening in real time and that it's been months since I started. I've decided to get the third book for my Kindles because it is easier to skim the written word.
I love satirical books about common themes, as long as they are balanced. "The Fat Man" goes way too far on two counts. First, the author stretches the story over the top, pulling in everything from Cinderella to Citizen Kane. Sticking with the Santa theme should have been enough, but, since he seemed to need to write something "cute" practically every line, he brought in fantasies that had nothing to do with Santa. I eventually thought, "Come on! Aren't elves, reindeer, chimneys, etc. enough!"
Second, he brought up Christianity far too often for my taste. While I wouldn't mind a little mention now and then, he kept pushing how Santa was a "reminder" of "the child who brought love to the world." I don't believe he ever referred to Jesus by name, but it was pretty clear who he was talking about. Now I'm not a Santa expert, but I thought Santa was based on the story of St. Nicholas, who gave gifts to the poor, as well as other mythologies (including pagan ones). Not everyone who likes Christmas is a Christian; I personally celebrate the themes of love, caring and giving. I got so sick of the preaching that I quit listening to the book a little over half way through.
The narrator was fine, though he read a little too fast sometimes. I'd miss certain oblique references because of that speed and had to back up to catch them. Of course, there were so many references, oblique and otherwise, that at a certain point I just stopped and let the story move along until I got sick of the whole thing.
While I loved the concept of the book, the execution was pretty poor.
"Solaris" is, without a doubt, old-school science-fiction. I did not know that its original publication date was in 1961, though I suspected it was somewhere near the late 1950s after starting to listen to it. This is because it is heavy on exposition and light on characterization and action. But, even when compared to the early novels of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, etc., Solaris is incredibly dry. I am writing this before finishing the entire book. I plan on continuing to listen simply because I want to see how it is resolved. The performance by Alessandro Jiuliani is fine, particularly his characterizations of the different voices. He is one of the few male readers who does a good job portraying a feminine voice. This is not a beach-material novel, it is one you listen to while driving or on a train; sessions of 30 minutes or less are tolerable but not much more than that. If you want action, Solaris is not for you.
I feel trapped by this book. I want to know what happens to Fitz, but I can't stand to listen to it for very long. Unfortunately, I can't tell what the problem is. The narrator certainly doesn't give the characters or performance much life. It reminds me of a speech communication class I had as an undergrad over 30 years ago; we non-actors read books in front of the class with much the same effect. Thank the universe that I can speed up the narration on my Kindle Fire! But the story may also be the problem; there may be too much detail and not enough plot to make it truely interesting. Given the problems I have with the narrator, I can't really tell. The plan is to rent the the subsequent Kindle book from the library. Then I'll know if it's the story and won't feel I have to finish the sequel to get my money's worth. (FYI, I downloaded the book about two months ago and still have 6 hours to go!)
I had physically read the WoT books up to about book 8 and stopped because they had become too repetitious. I thought I'd try Brandon's transition book to see if things picked up again and purchased the audiobook because of some visual issues. Big mistake! Given the amount of time since my last read and the volume of characters in the series, it was too much to keep track of who was what. I'm thinking of getting the 2001 summary volume, but the reviews on Amazon are very mixed, so I haven't decided. The narrator is just fine and I cannot fault his reading, it's the scope of the story that's the problem.
Most post-Conan Doyle Holmes books are deplorably absent of style. They focus on the twists of missed observations and not on the literary bend surronding and supporting Holmes' observations. This book is an exception. Though is is difficult to distinguish between the written words of Anthony Horowitz and the wonderful style of narrator Derek Jacobi, it "feels" like the Watson and, by extension, Holmes of the originator's work. I applaude everyone associated with the production.
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