Kept you guessing
Interesting premise with a good opening hook. Complications kept you guessing until almost the end.
The very end was disappointing and not realistic. Should have come up with something more plausible. But it is Corben's trademark to offer a unique twist at the end of his stories!
A fascinating story of the 20th century from the perspective of individuals who might have lived it. But as we got into the 60s to the 80s, the period I actually lived through and remember, Follett's biases become much more obvious. It seems all the characters have amazing sexual experiences, all except for the conservative Republican who can't attract women! Even the story of JFK seducing a young woman (in reality a rape!) is romanticized because, after all, he's JFK!
Worse is his treatment of the end of the Soviet Union. According to Follett, communism self-imploded without any assistance from the US. While JFK's proclamation, "ich bein ein Berliner" is lauded at least twice, Reagan's Berlin speech in which he said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" is mentioned in a very dismissive tone. This, despite the fact that it was Reagan's initiative to build up the US military's capabilities, to propose the Star Wars anti-ballistic missile system and to generally demonstrate to the Soviets that America was willing to commit substantial resources to confront Soviet expansionism, eventually convinced the realist Gorbachev that the Soviets could not compete. Yes, communism is a bankrupt philosophy both figuratively and literally, but without the Reagan push, Gorbachev and the Russian's never reach the tipping point. But none of this is recorded in Follett's telling and neither is the Russian invasion of Afganistan during Reagan's tenure which was also a key factor in their ultimate demise.
Nevertheless, I recommend the book as a great recap of history but just understand that the author has an agenda.
One more- during the early part of Reagan's term, a plan is put in place to take out certain Middle Eastern imam's and other sponsors of terrorism. Follett has one of his "rational heroines" aghast at the prospect of assassinating bad guys and suggests we will be far more effective if we simply negotiate with these upset people!! In light of more recent events, that so-called enlightened attitude is so naive as to be dangerous! One wonders how Follett feels about his new hero, Barak Obama, and his penchant to take out similar bad guys through the use of drones with their collateral damage and uncertain legalities.
Could listen again although I don't typically do so. Some of the surprise will be gone although it may be interesting to do some time to listen for the clues the author gives that were missed the first time around, not knowing the ending.
Obviously to the Hunger Games to which it is a sequel. As a futuristic book one might consider one of the classics, such as 1984, although the writing is not up to that par since it was intended more for a juvenile audience.
The reader did a fine job of distinguishing the voices. Not much difficulty in identifying the various characters.
All have fallen short.
I didn't give the book 5 stars because of the author's outlook on life. Unlike the Harry Potter books, she is much more pessimistic about people. Everyone is tainted but some are more so than others. Even her heroine is damaged. While that may be true in some degree, it does not give a reader much hope. As a book intended for young people, that is not a positive endorsement.
The storyteller has a way of drawing us into the action. Despite the premise, it does not contain graphic violence or gory details- the story is the important element. The ending definitely begs for a follow on story, which fortunately will come in books 2 and 3.
With a book on the best seller list I expected a whole lot more. Most of the book is a lecture based on spurious evidence for some nonsense called the "sacred feminine" and Brown's obvious bias against the Roman Catholic Church. I can hardly classify this as a thriller and the only suspense is trying to figure out the numerous word clues. I spent most of the time mentally posing counterarguments to Brown's leaps of logic. As an example, he claims the Holy of Holies in Solomon's Temple was a place where the Jews carried on sexual "sacred" rites thus proving that God endorses such activity. Brown conveniently forgets that this action by the Jews was one of the reasons God gave in the Old Testament for exiling the Jews to Babylon- to purge them of pagan practices. The books of the Old Testament predate by centuries the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.
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