I enjoyed this book more than Freakonomics, but the reader was very distracting. I listen to most audiobooks via headphones and there wasn't a single sentence where I couldn't hear loud inhalations or other extraneous and irritating noises. The book itself was interesting enough that I enjoyed the book quite a bit, but the reader was very disappointing.
It's Jules Verne. It's a classic and I won't say much about the story other than to say that everyone should be familiar with the classics, especially relatively short ones like this.
Curry does an admirable job making the Icelandic/Nordic terms and names come through quite naturally. His performance is smooth and natural overall with emotions coming through just as if he were taking on the character of Axel-as-adult-narrator-looking-back.
While I expect the underlying book to be pretty good, the narration is so bad that I simply couldn't get through more than about an hour of this recording. The reader clearly has difficulty with scientific terms and pronunciation, but that is something that should be taken care of in production. With randomly quickly-read clauses and terms interspersed with slowly read sentences, it's just too difficult to follow what Dr. Hawking is saying.
The performance in this book is quite good, but the story is weak, especially given the fact that the science is not particularly well explained. While many concepts are touched upon, the true revolutionary nature of the ideas is lost as is the sense of the scope of the discoveries as they are not well explained or demonstrated. It's scientific history without the science and without the science to make the story interesting, it's not a great tale.
Informative and engaging, the main complaint I have with this book is that when it comes to tables and statistics, the audiobook format is just plain hard to follow. Not the fault of the authors, but while the first half of the book was great as an audiobook, I couldn't help but feel that I should pick up a hard-copy for the tables in the second half.
I came of age in the early 1990s, so some of the references are before my time. Nevertheless, this was a very enjoyable read. It was exciting and neither too "hard" or "soft" scifi.
Wil Wheaton did an excellent job of narrating the book, despite some misgivings over his name being attached to it, I found his delivery quite good and only on one occasion was distracted by his reading (and that, intentional; a joke you will know when you come to it.)
Overall, lived up to the hype.
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