...to the excellent quality of the reviews that have already been written here about Age Of Miracles. Like others have commented, YA is not my usual genre, and if this book had not been marketed as speculative fiction, I would surely have missed it.
I'm very glad that I did not. Seeing the changing world through young Julia's eyes is quite remarkable, and the author maintains a rhythm and a style (throughout nearly all of the book) that is both consistent and powerful. "Of course," I eventually thought, "this is exactly the way it would happen. People would continue to live their lives, fall in love, argue with family members, interact with their pets, make plans, have dreams of the future." This simple and pure quality is what distinguishes The Age of Miracles from other dystopian fiction I have read, and it takes the voice of a child on the brink of adulthood to convey it.
I also agree, however, that the ending is abrupt, and damages the otherwise smooth flow of the novel. I'm not sure what else there was to say, but the transition of years could have been more artful, and I am surprised that her editors did not insist on it.
While this is not always the case, I am quite certain that I would not have enjoyed this book as much in print. Emily Janice Card takes on a challenging task and does it flawlessly. She is apparently in synch with the author's intentions and does not distort the characters with her own interpretations. I sometimes think that the worst readers sit down with a book, completely unfamiliar with it and its intentions, signal for the mike to go live, and start to read. Clearly, Ms. Card understood this book before she began, and it is a masterful performance.
To those of you who are undecided about spending a credit for this book, I urge you to do so. I seldom just sit and listen to a book, preferring to let the book accompany me as I do dishes, clean house, or paint. I sat and listened to this book until it was finished. I will not forget it soon.
I do respect the fact that it took Donna Tartt more than a decade to write this book. It is L-O-N-G, which is not, for me, a deterrent to enjoyment. In fact, I grew so used to the steady rhythm of this book that I was taken aback when the rhythm changed toward the end. I understand that the author felt the need to pontificate a bit, and I may be all alone when I object to this slightly. When Theo expresses his philosophies at the end, this seems (to me) almost a failure of authorship. Generally speaking, an author chooses a character or characters to pronounce the theme(s) of the book, and Boris does quite a good job at this, and so does Hobie. I realize that Theo has something else, something additional, to say, but the clever use of a literary device might make it more palatable than just smacking us over the head with it at the end, thereby compromising the warp and weave of the book's fabric. Maybe she tried doing it a different way, and Theo just had SO MUCH to say that it didn't work through dialogue. Then, I would argue that it is TOO much. It's like a Steven Spielberg movie, when he is so insecure sometimes about the theme that he takes us by the hand and leads us to it, and then yells, "SEE!" He does this, especially, in Empire of the Sun, which I loved. But I felt insulted that he had such little respect for the viewers' intelligence. I feel the same about Donna Tartt. I want to holler, "I get it, I get it, already!"
Having said all that, I did love the book. I loved what it had to say, and (mostly) I loved how it said it. I think, like all things, what we take away from a book is up to the reader. I refuse to sink into nihilism with Theo, although he does expound at great length about the middle ground where beauty and love exist. I think he has not much partaken of those things, but perhaps he will. Who knows?
...in that I did not care for this book. I would not be finishing it if it were not required reading for my book club. I started out with the book as an ebook, realized I would never be able to finish it, and opted for an audible version. I have never been so irritated by a narrator. Why does Barbara Rosenblat take these great gulps of air every few sentences? I never hear other narrators do this. Perhaps she has asthma? Is a heavy smoker? In any event, I find it very unprofessional and highly distracting. And I realize that my ill humor makes me sound like Amelia Peabody herself, who is, in my opinion, unnecessarily arrogant and full of herself. Sorry - I'll content myself being a member of a minority, and pass on the rest of this series, plus any book narrated by Barbara Rosenblat.
...to previous reviews. I think it has all been said. Except that, I just do want to put in another word for Martin Jarvis, whose narration of this book is simply brilliant. A few reviewers have mentioned his failure to pause at breaks in the story. I actually did not notice that, but I suppose it could be irritating if one does notice it. There are so many recurring and steady characters; I found it amazing that he was able to find a distinct voice for each one.
I enjoyed this book immensely. It is a memorable read/listen and I'm sure I will listen to it again and again.
I agree that JLB is probably the best American fiction writer alive today. And after I read Creole Belle, the book that preceded this one, I did not think that the series could get any better. Unfortunately, for me, it didn't.
While listening to an audio book, I find it difficult to separate the writing from the narrator. Will Patton is one of my favorite narrators, and I just finished his masterful performance of Alas, Babylon. So I was surprised to find (as other reviewers have mentioned) that his performance in this book is somewhat lackluster. I agree that his rendering of Gretchen is so poor as to be distracting. And he seems to lose his place from time to time, carrying over in one character's voice into another's, or the narration. I was tempted to simply give up and purchase the print version, and I probably eventually will.
I was also deeply disappointed when I began listening to this book, and still believe that a good listen could become a truly memorable listen if a professional narrator were employed. Nevertheless, this is a remarkable book, and the author's gentle and somewhat tentative voice is especially well-suited to the latter part of the book, which is told by Violet Green.
As an American expat who has lived almost a decade in Mexico, and who remembers the HUAC hearings when I was a small child, this book was a perfect match for me. I delighted in Harrison's descriptions of Mexico, sharing his love for this country for the same reasons; he expressed it much more articulately than I can. And I remember the fear and consternation on my parents' faces when they were asked, as teachers, to sign loyalty oaths.
This is a book about two very different cultures, and an extraordinary man who sought comfort in each, but never quite found it. That is a gross oversimplification, because the true wonder of this book lies in the manner in which the author chose to tell it. She never resorts to the "third person omniscient" point of view, but instead lets the readers draw their own conclusions about the characters by observing their behavior and listening to their own voices. Only a very skilled writer is able to do this, and I am grateful to Ms. Kingsolver for having faith in the intelligence and perception of her readers.
I am a compulsive and eclectic reader, and many of the books I read are for entertainment only. This book is truly an exception. It enriched my spirit and I hope it does the same for yours.
This is a plot that could obviously come straight from the newspaper headlines. A teenaged boy is accused of murdering one of his classmates. However, this book is not so much plot-driven as character-driven. When I was about halfway through listening, I remarked to my husband that the book is so disturbing and depressing I was tempted not to finish. But I had to finish, "just in order to find out what happens."
"What happens" is not what I expected. And the author gets us there in a cunningly skillful manner, alternating between a straight chronology of events and excerpts of grand jury testimony which obviously comes further down the road. It is not until near the end that we learn the identity of the defendant before this grand jury.
The narrator is similarly skilled, and I am so very pleased that I chose to listen to this book, rather than read it in print. I'm sure I would have enjoyed it, but listening to a book often makes the listener more aware of the writing quality.
I would definitely recommend the book, despite its dark subject matter.
I have read all of the Odd Thomas books, and this is the first one I have enjoyed on audio. Knowing that David Aaron Baker reads all of these books, I may have to go back and start over, for the joy of listening to his spot-on narration.
This book starts out with Oddy on a trek to buy some new socks and clothes, and he encounters the book's main villain almost immediately. An encounter ensues that, because it occurs so early in the book, has no real context, so I found it a bit disconcerting. Never fear. The context arrives, along with a delightful new character, the elderly Edie Fisher, who is one of Oddy's accomplices in this drama, and who sheds more light on the battle between good and evil that is the fate of Odd Thomas.
Many serious readers in my circle scoff at Dean Koontz and his continual inventions of evil characters who must be challenged and (usually) defeated by Koontz' assorted heroes. Say what they will, I adore this series and Odd Thomas' naive and trusting acceptance of his mission. Thank you, Dean Koontz, for helping us share this childlike belief in the existence of people who are thoroughly good, and devoted to the banishment of forces that threaten to overwhelm us. Getting up in the morning with a smile on my face is a bit easier after reading this book.
after my friends kept persuading me to read it. People loaned me copies and people gave me copies, and I just could not get into the book. I gave up after a few chapters several times. I finally reasoned that I might get more out of the book if I listened to it, and noting that it was read by the notable Anna Fields, I gave in.
Yes, the narration was spot on. The plot was,,,,slow to develop. I did finish the book, and noted two technical glitches where a few paragraphs are repeated. I know there is something here for me to learn, and I am simply not sure if I learned it. I thoroughly enjoyed State of Wonder, but this book, despite the acclaim it received, left me, if not cold, a bit lukewarm.
I agree with some of the previous reviewers about Ms. Sterlin's very poor rendition of Sherlock Holmes. It really riuned the experience for me. I did enjoy the book, however, and am delighted to have found a new series, which I will now pursue in print, rather than audible form.
...for such an expertly crafted novel. I became so caught up in this novel, with the absolutely perfect narration, that I actually became unaware of the careful manner in which Ms. Flynn was leading the plot to its surprising conclusion. It's like watching a very fine movie and forgetting that the characters are actors, and it may be the best compliment that can be paid to a novelist. I ordered this book after finishing Gone Girl. Both books are unique in that the author is not begging for you to like the characters; she is just telling an unusual and complex story in each case, and telling it so well that it does not matter that the characters in both books are not especially likeable. It's a bold move for an author and Ms. Flynn is exceptionally talented. I look forward to reading more of her books.
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