Children of Paranoia a chilling tale that could be taking place right here and now. The book is non-stop action in a world a little too similar to our own that explores themes of duty, love, fanaticism, and revenge.
The story follows Joseph as he goes about his job as an assassin and keeps a record in his journal. He's good at his work but gets no enjoyment from killing. I enjoyed the meticulous planing and carrying out of his assignments, but the journal framework took away a lot of the suspense since Joseph had to survive in order to write his story.
Joseph isn't the smartest or most fearless of his colleagues, and his boredom and depression really come through. He's in his 20's, and the juxtaposition between his job as a ruthless killer and his complete lack of social skills in normal life led to some funny situations. There are obvious parallels between the war Joseph is fighting and religious wars past and present, but Joseph's cult provides none of the community, philosophy, or history supplied by actual religious organizations to inspire such fervent devotion. Instead, Joseph is paranoid with no delusions he can ever be safe.
Reading: Steven Boyer reads the majority of the book with Emma Galvin covering the prologue and epilogue. This is the first time I've listened to Steven Boyer, and I liked his reading. His voice sounds young and is well suited to express both Joseph's deliberation and his depression. Emma Galvin's direct reading style really moved along her short sections.
Final thoughts: Full of violence and action, this dystopian portrait-of-a-life didn't provide enough information on the whys of the world to keep me engaged.
Grade: 2.5 out of 5
This book started out well with an interesting premise and characters, but then takes a turn into cartoon land and never recovers.
I liked the first 4 or so chapters of this book (you can read them on the website. Amnesia, special powers, boarding school, I love that stuff, but then the limitations of the book start showing, and soon they've taken over.
The book is divided into present narrative and flashback diary entries. The flashbacks are large infodumps that have little to no bearing on the present events. It's obvious the author put a lot of thought into the backstory of each minor character, but by the time I'd heard the life history of the 4th office colleague, I couldn't remember or care who any of these people were. In spite of the numerous details, the vast majority of characters have negligible roles in the present-day action, so it was hard for them to hold my attention or for me to care any about their childhoods.
With the frequent flashbacks, the novel is series of strung-together vignettes. This works well in some books, but in this one, the main character is mostly watching other people do things, so we don't learn what is interesting about her, and she can't hold the divergent stories together. There is a lot of time spent in worldsetting, but the characters and events in the world are not enough to hold the story.
This all would be ok if the writing style held my interest. While the beginning is intelligently written and very polished, the further into the book, the more cartoon situations and juvenile bathroom humor appear. The increasing inappropriateness turned me off completely.I can see why this book would be classed as young adult. The juvenile humor and inappropriate and cartoonish ways the characters act, along with gratuitous violence and gore, seems very young.
I really wanted to like this book and gave it chance after chance to impress me, but it failed on all accounts.
Note on narration: The narrator has a strange speaking style where her intonation rises at the end of every phrase making it sound like a question. This was very strange and took a while to get used to, but by the end she either gets better or I got used to it.
I liked the first book in the series. It was a PI-noir set in ancient Rome. But the next few books are not in audio and instead are abridged radio dramas. I tried one, but it was difficult to listen to, so I went on to try this book because its back to the audio form. Big mistake!
The book tries to cover the events of the earlier books, but doesn't do a good job of it. I know all the characters, but they are still impossible to keep straight. Like the first book, this is primarily a mystery with some Roman infodumps here and there. While this worked when the main character was a penniless PI, it doesn't work now that his fortunes have risen and he's supposed to be respectable. The noir elements, which were the best part of book one, have been removed and replaced with nothing. The Roman gloss is particularly glaring in this book that takes place in Briton but without any of the knowledge or sympathy found in the Ruth Downie books.
Skip this series. The Roman Medicus series and medieval Mistress of the Art of Death series are much better.
The first third of this book is a fun parody of Star Trek, but when it comes to the point when a plot is needed to continue, it falls apart. The "plot" is boring, the characters intentionally flat, and the many inconsistencies in the world building brushed off with "it's not supposed to make sense." What would have made a good short story is needlessly stretched, and the codas are strangely tacked-on moralizing platitudes. This book is the only thing I've read from John Scalzi, and I don't plan to read any more. As always, Wil Wheaton does a good job with the material even though most of his voices sound the same, but it doesn't compensate for the drudge of this book. Two stars for the fun parts in the beginning. If you do get it, stop listening there.
I love the ideas in Foundation, and I love Scott Brick's performance, but the concepts Asimov brings out need to be mulled over. That's hard to do when the audio keeps on going, plowing through revelations and on to the next section. I need to read Asimov instead of listening to him so I can stop when I need to and think about the ideas he presents. With the audiobook, it all ends up being background, so it's harder for me to get my mind around.
That said, Scott Brick brings another great performance. Can't go wrong with him.
Other books I have preferred the visual to the audio version include John Carter from Mars because of the great language used, Flatland because of the pictures, and some YA fluff books because it takes less time to read than to listen to them and they don't sustain interest over 8 hours.
I liked the initial set-up of the story. Toby is a private eye with some magic, kind of like a female Harry Dresden. She even has his car. But then there's a reboot before the first chapter and all the interesting bits are taken out.
Throughout the reading, I couldn't stop comparing this book to Dresden Files, and this book kept coming up short. While the Files have their share of bad writing, I keep going back to them because Harry is so much fun. Here are some ways Toby rubbed me wrong:
-Toby has no initiative. Everything happens to her instead of her taking charge. Then she complains.
-Toby isn't grounded. The set up is she's half fay and half human and not home with either. This means she stays in her apartment with her cats. Not fun to read about.
-Toby has no friends. Some names are mentioned, but she doesn't seem to like them very much. In fact, she avoids them as much as possible.
-Toby whines about her life but doesn't do anything to improve it - for example, she complains about how expensive everything is in San Francisco, but doesn't try to get a better job, find a roommate, or move somewhere cheaper. She just likes to complain.
-Toby has no interests. Her defining feature is she's depressed.
-Girl has magic but can't have fun with it. What's the point of that?
Fairies are my least favorite supernatural, and San Francisco has become my least favorite book-setting city because the book ends up being a description of SF instead of about characters or story. This one falls into that, too.
I love the title, the cover, the name October Daye, and there are some new interpretations of the Fairie myth in here, but a girl with magic that can't figure out any way to have fun with it is not worth knowing. This is one to skip.
I love Jonathan Cowley's narration, but Railsea isn't a very engaging story.
It's got a lot of great concepts: an enormous continent crisscrossed by thousands of rail lines, moletrains that go out to harpoon huge burrowing animals at the risk of the lives of the captain and crew, a small boy trying to learn the moletrain life and failing miserably.
Railsea is a steampunk retelling of Moby Dick which constantly mocks its source material. In the Railsea world, every train captain is missing at least one limb and has a "phliosophy," that one animal they're trying to track down. This distain, in conjunction with a whiny, unlikeable main character, put me off the book early on. It's been awhile since I've read Moby Dick, and it's not my favorite, but at least Queequeg was interesting. There are no interesting characters in Railsea, only steam-powered prostheses and giant moles.
The book starts off strong.
I loved the beginning with its strong female character and uncertainty about what's going on, but then it lost me with its drawn out non-events and arbitrary support of child abuse.
The book needs a lot of editing. I liked the part about the amazing story that go so much publicity, but then the story is recited, and it's not that amazing or even interesting. All of the interesting parts at the beginning of the book are counteracted by too much information later on. Maybe the point of the book is everything is meaningless.
The book is told from several points of view, and it was annoying when the same event was told from multiple vantages with no new information or insight. A third point of view character is added late in the book that provides no new information at all.
There are much better books to spend 47 listening hours on.
The header for this book says it's Book 2, and I guess there is some other Terry Pratchett children's book out there, but this is Book 1 of the Tiffany Aching series. Start here.
I listen to this book at least once a year and laugh out loud every time. I've read some of Terry Pratchett's books for adults, but am usually left feeling that something's missing. There's a distance between reader and characters that comes from too many puns and winks to the audience. This book avoids that. The writing is funny yet grounded in Tiffany's world. I love Tiffany. She questions the status quo and finds things out for herself. All of her books are enjoyable, but Wee Free Men is my favorite.
Stephen Briggs does an amazing job with the narration. He sounds like he's having a lot of fun and just lets loose with voices and sounds. His accents are perfectly tailored for each off-the-wall character.
A fabulous book for children and adults. The narration makes an already fun book that much better. One of my favorite audiobooks ever.
I loved this book. I loved that it starts off from the point of view of a small child who has no idea what's going on, and we get to figure things out along with him.
The book moves slowly, but at the perfect pace. When it was over, I couldn't wait for the next one. Unfortunately, the other books in the trilogy aren't as good.
I love the strange thoughts that come up when a book is listened to instead of read. I guess the main character's name is Fitz, but I thought his name was Fits, because he likes to throw them.
Other characters have names like Chivalry, Verity, and Regal, which took awhile to get used to in audio.
My recommendation: re-read the last chapters of Divergent before listening to Insurgent. I didn't, so I spent the first part of this book wondering who was who and what was going on. Insurgent expects listeners to have all the events and everyone's names fresh in mind. That did not happen with me. I don't need a complete recap, but it would have been nice to be reminded which one was the brother and which was the love interest. Those little hints to help jog the memory just aren't there.
I enjoyed Divergent, but I realized a big part of my enjoyment was the school/training aspect and learning about the world. Insurgent focuses on the war between the factions, my least favorite part of book 1. I liked learning more about Amenity and Candor, but I was expecting to discover what's beyond the wall, and that's saved for book 3.
Insurgent is a middle book in a series. You have to read it to find out what comes next, but nothing really happens. Hopefully the next book will be more interesting.
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