I would have to strongly disagree with the previous reviewer. I have read all published Al Reynolds that you can hold of easily Stateside, except for Terminal World, which is coming up on my reading list soon. I can say with certainty that the last few Reynolds books have fallen downhill, especially since Century Rain. This definitely cannot compare to his Revelation Space series, and I would highly recommend his best works as House of Suns, Redemption Ark and Chasm City. But unless you're a die-hard fan who has to read EVERYTHING he writes, I would suggest you skip is one.
I honestly am not quite sure why this book was written. There is nothing especially new here, unless you count the fact that the protagonist is African. Unless that's what you've been waiting to read for years, this book is just plain boring. I'm sorry, but I have been reading sci if long enough that descriptions of society on Mars, Phobos and the Moon, no matter how imaginative, just don't keep me riveted in and of themselves. For me, it's all about characters and plot.
Now, certainly the characters feel real to me. Kudos to Reynolds for creating a mostly black African dramatis personae, and seeing as he is both very white and very British, I think he did a great job making them realistic (as far as I can tell, anyway). However, that said, the characters don't really DO much of anything. The main character, as we well know from the description, just wants to keep studying elephants (and map his own brain patterns with that of elephants for some reason). Unfortunately that does NOT make an interesting story! I couldn't care less about imagining what a human looks like through an elephant's eyes. A character needs to DO something in order for us to have a story, and they should not just be reacting to outside forces all the time.
Then you have a society which is essentially utopic, where crime is virtually nonexistent and you cannot even throw a punch at someone without machines in your head intervening and your getting arrested. So needless to say there isn't a lot of action.
Another disappointing and completely unneeded element were the anti-Christian elements in this book. I don't know if Reynolds is atheist, agnostic, or anything else. But I don't read scifi to get bashed over the head with evolutionary theory and depressing philosophical arguments on the ultimate uselessness of all things. When one of the main characters laughs thinking that "she realized she was just a really smart monkey... A smart monkey who was flying to another planet in a spaceship" I just wanted to gag. Not very tactful, Al. He keeps mentioning this "smart monkey" concept too. For me, if that's all we are, then what is the point of exploring space, expanding to the stars, and preserving the human race? Such a future certainly wouldn't seem uplifting or positive at all, if everything is utterly useless and meaningless...
Anyway, the plot is kind of a treasure hunt from place to place, with a lot of description of different societies that live in the different places we visit. Most of this is just filler material. I didn't find it that interesting. I actually listened to this book at 3x speed using the Audible app just to get through it faster.
Also, if you care about such things, let me say that this book could have been rated a comfortable "PG" for all scifi fans, except for the repeated uses of the F-word. There is almost no swearing in this book besides the F-Word, which is used frequently by just about everyone, often in strange places where you would normally expect a different kind of curse word, but you get the F-word instead. Bon appetit.
The ending of the book certainly makes it feel like a standalone, which I hope is the case. It feels pretty anticlimactic when compared to Reynolds' other works.
Finally a note about the narrator. His voice matches the main characters well. He is clearly of African descent and has a pleasant British accent. However, this almost feels like it could be the first book he ever narrated. He doesn't seem able to do any accents other than that one. The books should have had multiple narrators, because the characters end up sounding very similar and hard to differentiate. Because of this I imagined every single character being African. His American accent was painfully off, and he performed one character, who is some kind of a whale, so deep and slowly that it is extremely difficult to understand what he is saying. The narration definitely detracts from the story. I really miss John Lee.
For someone who has been a big Reynolds fan in the past, I am sorely disappointed in this latest offering and if it does turn out to be a trilogy I probably will not be reading the rest of this series, which I guess means I won't be reading any new Reynolds for a long time.
If you're looking for some space marine war action just for entertainment purposes, then this does a pretty decent job of it.
The book is heavily focused on action, as you would expect, with little in the way of character development. The character who turns out to be the main character did have some time devoted to his backstory, and he does grow as a marine during the process of his first mission and the main conflict. There isn't really much more to say. It's chock-full of action, with enough violence to satisfy pretty much the most voracious appetite.
Like most, I didn't care for the narrator at all. He did a decent job with some of the accents, but his regular narration voice was just not pleasant to the ears. I hate to say that about someone, but it's just there. I don't think he's really suited for audiobooks.
This book didn't meet my expectations, and there was plenty of adult language and content. I don't plan to follow the rest of this particular series.
"Guardian" delivers everything we expect from Captain John "Blackjack" Geary.
This series has turned out to be one of the best-running military sci fi series out there today. It is entertaining, optimistic and quite clean, in a Star Wars/Star Trek style but much more believable. The longer the series runs, the more comfortable it feels, both for the author's writing and for the reader's experience. With spats of humor (that sometimes, though rarely, fall flat), gripping space battles, and heroes you can really cheer for, this series hits the high points while avoiding too many cliches and pitfalls.
This volume really brings everything together and throws some new stuff our way. Campbell clearly knows what we expect, and he delivers in a big way everything that epitomizes this series. We have space battles and ground battles, against the Syndics we so love to hate, as well as against new enemies. We have aliens that truly feel alien, about as far from human spinoffs as you can imagine. And we even have political machinations and some great character interactions.
The pace starts slow at first, recapping recent events (it's been a while since the last book), but builds quickly and continually until the end, avoiding the dreaded cliffhanger. The characters feel like old friends by now, and part of the fun is knowing how they will react in a situation before they actually do.
Overall a great addition to the series, and the good thing is that Campbell could go anywhere he wants with it at this point.
Another very solid thriller from Baldacci, possibly surpassing the first book in the series.
Will Robie feels like Baldacci's version of Mitch Rapp, just like John Puller seems like his version of Jack Reacher. Interesting that he's running both series at the same time, but heck, why not borrow the elements from two of the most successful and popular series on the market today? While not quite matching the punch of Vince Flynn, this series is still a solid hit, and will keep you engaged from start to finish.
Robie has a few characteristics that distinguish him from other superhero assassins, too. He's more laid back, and a bit more of a detective than others. In this Baldacci's style makes itself known, as in the first book, a fast-action intro turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a conspiracy to be be uncovered. Robie also has some characters that he cares for and works with, which is both a benefit to his character and a weakness in his line of work.
Wile the plot felt at times to be a little forced by the author's hand , this was still a great listen. If you enjoy espionage thrillers or like Baldacci's other works, you won't be disappointed.
This book is about as boring as listening to someone read the phone book, and the narrator makes it feel like she's doing just that. After listening to Ties of Power, I knew I was in for more of the same, but like a sucker, I had gone ahead and bought this one in advance, so I forced myself through the torture of this listen.
I dislike just about everything about these last couple of books. I don't like Czernida's writing style, her dialogue, the aliens she comes up with, the silly cultural things that are forced into the plot, and I don't even care about the characters, for crying out loud. Sira gets kidnapped again - of course - because she is so completely helpless and clueless about everything, in spite of being something like 70 years old and the leader of her entire race, not to mention the most powerful member in the Clan's entire history. Her husband takes his sweet time getting to her, engaging in pointless side plot stuff that nobody cares about and alien stuff I couldn't even understand.
This is average Star Trek-style 90's-2000's level sci fi. There's no real sense of a living galaxy outside of the main few characters and their concerns. The aliens, as I mentioned before, are so unrealistic as to be laughable compared to today's standards. "Clan" are so obviously human-derivative yet they think themselves far superior and completely foreign, while a crab-type alien thinks to itself expressions such as "on the other claw...". Come on, seriously? Throw me out of the story, why don't you!
If you read the first book in this series and enjoyed it, please, please stop there. It only goes downhill after that.
It would be impossible for me to say anything about this book that hasn't already been said. I can only give my personal opinions and impressions. Was it well-written? Sure. Did it have believable characters? Yes. Was it incredibly long, probably longer than it needed to be? Absolutely. But I am not blown away as some others have been, and it's not even my favorite King novel (and I've only read a few).
My opinion might change when I get a bit more distance from the conclusion. For me it just wasn't as epically satisfying as the build-up promised. And personally, I didn't care as much for all the supernatural aspects of the novel. Was this a necessity because it's King? I would have liked to see a storyline and conflict based upon what normal humans might develop after such an apocalyptic disaster. Having an enemy with unknown, ever-shifting powers and prophetic events that set up deus ex machina moments just didn't feel right to me. I also don't care so much for average joe characters who don't really excel at anything. They don't have high skills in any certain area and always seem to freeze up when they face danger or miss when they fire a gun.
Ultimately I think I could feel the author's hand way too heavily in this novel. It almost seemed as though the characters wanted to guess that they were inside of a book and that their stories were being written for them; maybe this was even intentional, I don't know. Also I have to admonish a stern content warning for this one: King doesn't pull any punches, with anything.
Nevertheless, one positive that I got out of this book was the importance of the power of choice. I think it's a central theme running throughout this book. Some characters turned to good, and some turned to evil. Some to their basest, sinful instincts, while others sought God, or the good of their fellows, something greater than themselves. Those who chose evil prospered for a while, but eventually perished, destroyed by the breakdown of their own false society, a house built upon sand that was washed away. Likewise, we have that same choice to make, every day of our lives. To live for ourselves, or for God and others. Ultimately, that will determine our fate, as well.
4.5 stars for a thoroughly enjoyable listen. It's really hard to execute a plot of this scale in a single book. The higher the stakes, the more difficult it is to pull off believably, and the threat of nuclear annihilation is about as high as it gets. Flynn goes a good job, and this is probably the best book of the series up to this point. Mitch Rapp is badder and better than ever, but unfortunately we don't get to see much at all of his wife Anna in this book. Also Mitch has continued the same "I'm tired of all the BS, I'm gonna quit after this one and settle down" monologues that he has been having for the last four books. For better or worse though, he stops worrying about that after the next book, "Consent to Kill"...
The thrilling conclusion to Scalzi's serial "The Human Division" series nevertheless ends with a wide-open story still to be told. We finally get the biggest space battle yet, along with some harrowing scenes of danger facing our principle characters. If you've followed the series up till now, you will be satisfyingly rewarded, yet salivating for more. Lets hope the sequel, in whatever form it may take, will come out soon!
I found this book years ago in the bookstore not long after it had been published, and was intrigued by the cover art and the summary on the back. Then, years later, I read the first book mainly just so I could get to this one. The first book wasn't that bad for an author's first work. For this one, however, I cannot be so forgiving.
First of all, this book is simply boring. This is due partially to the actual events but also to the author's lack of experience as a writer. The writing style is awkward and makes it hard to easily follow what's happening. To complicate matters, many things just aren't adequately explained, while others get needlessly repeated over and over again. Finally, the book is far too long and wordy, as many have pointed out, with about 150 pages in the middle that should have been truncated.
I dont care for the narrator's voice at all, either here or in the Honor Harrington series. She sounds too newsy for me. She breaks into GLaDOS mode when voicing some of the aliens, especially when you listen on fast speeds (which you probably will do).
This book is a typical average 90s-early 2000s scifi and doesn't hold up well against the changing times. This is not hard science fiction; it is a Lucasian fantasy set in space. Little attention is given to the tech or the alien races (except the Draspk), and at times it seems as though Czernida herself wasn't sure what the rules are, but is just fudging things through. It attempts to be part romance, but the angst going on and the awkward and contrived barrier that keeps the characters apart makes the whole thing a big mess.
This book suffers from the classic "sophomore slump" that is so well known, and you should probably skip it and go straight to the third volume since you won't really miss much.
A good solid episode, but short. With only one story left though, I wonder what the last episode is going to be, and how Scalzi is going to tie everything up in two hours. Maybe it's just a big lead-up to a full novel. Still, if you've listened this long, you will enjoy this episode.
Another good episode from John Scalzi's "Human Division", chock full of the wit and humor that makes his series so popular and enjoyable. Although the issues in this volume are ones that have been covered in sci-fi before, Scalzi's delivery is very much his own.
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