I bought this book because it beat out many of my favorites to win the annual audiobook tournament, so I expected to enjoy it. I am always willing to suspend my disbelief for a good yarn, but this author simply asks too much. Vanessa Michael Monroe's character is never fully developed, and despite her stellar talents and complicated past, she is simply not very likeable. What drives her? A female Jack Reacher she is not. Reacher is motivated by a deep internal ethic. Monroe seems mostly motivated by money and individual power and achievement.
This book could have been a very different listen with a different reader. Listen carefully to the words and imagine them as written. The reader's flat, ironic, breathy voice is, to me, an unwelcome presence in the book. I can see that Hilary Huber has a long list of audio performances. I will avoid all of them.
I understand that we all have different tastes in books, and I applaud our diversity as a group of listeners. Perhaps I should have read more of the reviews before I impulsively spent a credit. I'll be more careful in the future.
I found this narrator so difficult to listen to; I gave up on this book after about an hour, and cannot give it an honest appraisal. Her dialect/accent seems disingenuous and she often ends her sentences on an interrogatory upwards note, which is usually indicative of someone lacking confidence. I also found her frequent, audible deep breaths to be so distracting that I just couldn't continue. The book sounds worth reading, and I adored Ms. Tartt's The Goldfinch, so I will read the book in print as an alternative.
I bought this book months ago and procrastinated listening to it, primarily because it was billed as a "mystery" and the "cover" seemed to portray a crime noir type novel, and I wasn't sure that was what I was looking for. I was so wrong.
This is an honest and heartfelt coming of age story, with a mystery as a story device to move things along. I heartily concur with other reviewers who insist that Stephen King has gotten an unfair reputation - usually by people who have never read one of his books.
I love Stephen King. I love the way he puts so much of himself so generously in each book that he writes. I love the way he writes dialogue and never assumes an omniscient point of view over all characters - the sign of a lazy writer. Writing in the first person is the most challenging task a writer can take on, and he does it to perfection. We learn about the other characters through the eyes of the narrator, not through broad statements like "she was scared," or "he was disappointed." Instead, we learn about his characters through their actions and their dialogue, just like in real life. Tricky business for a writer, and he does it so skillfully that we don't even realize he is doing it.
Books seldom bring me to tears. This one did. Just listen to it. You'll be so glad you did.
I realize that Barbara Rosenblat is an esteemed narrator, but this is the second book I have listened to that I did not enjoy, because of her narration. This book is not great literature, and I'm sure it was never intended as such. That said, it IS a good story, with interesting characters. A narrator can surely influence the listener's perception of the characters, and her interpretation led me to see some of the female characters as hysterical whiners, when I am sure that is not how the author meant for them to be portrayed. Granted, there are a number of strong female characters, but it is almost impossible to tell them apart by the narration. This is the first Alexandra Cooper book I have read. I liked the book and will read others in the series, but I will read them in print, not as audio books.
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.
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