It was the best of times and the worst of times. This tale is a bit Dickensian - a coming of age tale with a very cheerful and fulfilling ending. Jack of Diamonds is Courtenay at his best - an excellent blend of social history, character development and pure adventure. I'm now keen to learn poker.
Much easier to follow the story arcs/flashbacks/multiple Points of View in print version or if this were a film.
Very clever tale full of plot twists, turns and believable characters, but the narrative arc loses its momentum due to flashbacks that become almost short stories in and of themselves so that when the writer finally returns to the present and the over-arching narrative, you forget which story is now being told. However, the final third of the book brings all these seeming disparate vignettes together.
The concept is compelling, but the execution is poor. First, the narrative shift between dates/time/characters is confusing and weakens the momentum, especially the audio version as it's too difficult to remember where you left off. It also fails to flesh out key characters, of whom none prove to be fully developed and engaging (ie. I didn't really care at the end about any of them). I'd skip this one unless it's a $4.95 deal - and even then it's still a huge time commitment.
This would be an excellent film because it's so visual - so maybe it would translate better on screen.
If you want a step by step instruction manual for navigating the demise of humanity due to a zombie invasion, then this is a must-listen. Or, if you, like me, want to drift off to sleep while listening, then download this sleeper.
However, ff you actually enjoying character development - "why oh why did this happen? Why am I still here? Where's God? How can I go on?" - intrigue, mystery, language, and masterful storytelling, you'll want to skip this. It's not even a decent zombie thriller. For that - check out Patient Zero.
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