I was luke-warm on this series after listening to Outcast, but gave Omen a chance. Very glad I did. Once again, Marc Thompson gave an outstanding performance, and you can easily imagine the characters that you know and love. The production values (sfx and music) nicely enhanced the story telling, as well. The story itself was a lot more like an investigative mystery than Outcast and nicely built on the foundation it laid.
Unfortunately, I started this series with the most recent book, Apocalypse, so I'm aware of some of the underlying mystery. Still, even though this is a more character-oriented book (versus action-oriented), you still wonder what some of the motivations are behind decisions that are made, which is a little frustrating. That said, there is enough intrigue going on that I'm going to keep reading on to the next book. If it is "similar" to this one ... I may not read all of them. ("Read" = Listen to ... of course.)
I had a big, nerdy grin on my face throughout listening to this audio book. Despite a few minor holes in the writing (I'm talking minor, here), The Last Command was a ton of fun and a very satisfying conclusion to the Thrawn trilogy.
Marc Thompson's performance and the production qualities of the audio were absolutely brilliant. I cannot imagine that a physical reading of this book would be nearly as enjoyable as listening to it. Thompson's impersonation of the Star Wars characters was uncanny, and even had me laughing (Lando Calrissian – oh my gosh!).
Too bad Lucas won't make another trilogy. I would have paid gladly to see the Thrawn Trilogy turned into an Episode 7, 8 and 9. Nicely done, Timothy Zahn!
If you line up the Thrawn Trilogy with the current two Star Wars film trilogies, based on having listened to books 1 and 2 (so far), I'd put this closely behind the original (New Hope/Empire/RotJ). Excellent narration performance and production values. Fun, fun, fun!
Collins is a talented writer, no doubt, but she may be as clueless as her protagonist.
Every story has a protagonist, of course – the hero. Throughout the first two books, I kept hoping that Katniss would eventually "get it" and stand up for the noble principles that she appears to know instinctively, even if she can't verbalize them (which she hints that Peeta might). At one point, the author teases at what that noble cause is, but then Katniss completely dismisses it and turns to selfish motivations – even stupid ones. From that point on the story fell from such great kinetic height that it felt like the the book developed a bottomless pit.
If Collins was trying to make a point of how horrible war was, she'd accomplished that well before that moment. Since she completely hijacked the nobility of the protagonist, all that was left of substance was her statement on war (which she'd already made). As the book continued, I was left feeling as if she was trying to say that it would have been better for them to live under the oppression of the Capitol than to aspire to something greater. Really?
In the end, Katniss' name became quite apropos. She transformed to be as fickle and self-centered as Buttercup – the cat she hated – and any other character she'd fought against throughout the story. Collins made me not care about her protagonist – even dislike her. That's how you ruin a perfectly good story.
I'm left with two thoughts. "We hold these truths to be self-evident." Katniss knew instinctively what was right. And "Give me liberty or give me death." This is the ideal – the line in the sand that I had been waiting for, which never came. Collins intentionally sabotaged her story, including any redemptive quality that might have been found in a tragic ending. Awful.
As others have said, I don't think the narrator was the best choice for this series of books. Beyond that, Catching Fire is a worthy sequel to The Hunger Games. It's biggest strength is in Collins' description of the world that the characters occupy. Great details and imagination.
However, for this story to really pay off, our hero Katniss needs to get with it. For all of her intelligence and skills, she can't seem to see the forest for the trees. More often than not, she acts more like I would expect a real 16-year-old girl to act instead of the hero that she needs to be. Some might say "well, that makes her easy to relate to." I couldn't disagree more. Peter Parker is still able to act heroically as Spiderman in spite of his teenage years, and we still relate to him. As in the first book, I kept wishing Katniss would step it up, stop feeling sorry for herself, and see what the heck is going on around her a little more clearly.
The ending gives a pretty good cliff-hanger. If it weren't for that, I think I might not get to the third book, due to my frustration with the protagonist. But I'll read on in hopes that she shapes up.
It's a good book – a "page turner" (as much as an audio book can be) for sure. I enjoyed the main character in many ways but ultimately felt frustrated by her. She knew the injustice of the circumstances, but dealt with it in a passive aggressive way. I kept waiting for the moment when she'd get past it and inspire people far and wide to rise up against their oppressors. It didn't happen, so that was disappointing. But the story was good and decently written. The author thought through the system and details of the world in her story very well.
The narration was okay. Not great, but serviceable.
I do recommend the book and can see why they're adapting a film series from it, but it's not quite a Harry Potter.
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