This book is quite famous, and for the first six hours I can see why. Part 1 of the book follows Chichikov, a charming but suspicious man going about a region of feudal Russia purchasing the rights to dead serfs - or "dead souls." This part is a series of amusing vignettes of Chichikov's successes and frustrations staffed with caricatures of feudal Russian society, and I'm sure gave contemporaries great fun in trying to guess his motivations.
Part 2 is missing large and frequent chunks of manuscript, which the narrator will slip in without a change of tone - so I was frequently confused. "Two pages here are lost" would suddenly be inserted in the middle of a woman's dialogue, only to resume, with barely a pause, in raised voice the angry arguments of a gentleman in what is apparently a different scene. After setting the new place awhile, the author continues with the saga of Chichikov, but I had trouble keeping track of what is going on.
The translation is somewhat labored. It felt a lot like a senior thesis from a Russian literature major at, say, Wesleyan or Oberlin; imperatives are given as "do you pour the tea" instead of the vernacular "please pour the tea." I looked up the information later, and it's a public domain translation from 1842. That partly explains the verbiage. It's also pretty annoying to realize that Audible just charged me $14 for something I could read online for free. You think they could at least spring for the rights to a more modern translation.
I'm not big on the zombie genre, but I do like sci fi/fantasy, so I gave this book a chance. There are weaknesses - virus levels are measured in microns (a unit of length, not of number or concentration), internal inconsistencies, the villain at the end acts out a cliche that makes no sense in context (despite the speech he gives to indicate murderous insanity) - but despite all these flaws, I just wanted to keep listening. The author paints vivid pictures in an America just a few decades from now where (suspend disbelief) technology has progressed stunningly in response to a virus that creates "night of the living dead"-like zombies through a (suspend disbelief) lab-engineered mutation of the common cold. The fact that zombie-ism is contagious, and that transformation isn't immediate, is central to the plot, but the contradictions between the virus origin story and the way it behaves made me think that an origin story actually subtracts from the plot. So just power through the parts where the book's version of virology is discussed, and power through ridiculous scenes like the narrator taking the time to explain her brother's dating history during a zombie mob attack, and immerse yourself in an interesting thriller where the journalists are targeted because they tell the truth, and the harshness of a zombie-filled world forces people to horrible, soul-dimming acts of mercy and love and self-protection. "Sophie's Choice" with a virus instead of Nazis.
I know that a lot of young adult (especially supernatural young adult - is there any other kind these days?) has questionable logic and behavior, presumably because teens don't think all that much of the motivations and reasoning of grown ups, but this book is extra absurd. Not only the behavior of the protagonist's mother, who irresponsibly endangers the girl, and the lack of sympathy for the poor cousin, who (as it is mentioned before she is mocked) is a real victim of the situation, but the inexplicable actions at the end of the Really Hot Guy. It's like the author didn't want to end the book without checking all the boxes. Disappointing, because this could have been an interesting blend of historical fiction and sci fi/fantasy.
I'm a mother of a beautiful toddler girl. I should really have been an emotional mess listening to a story about the aftermath of a toddler girl snatched at age 3 and not returned to her family for 2 years.
Somehow, the author manages to avoid forging a connection between the reader and any of the characters. The mother character, Megan, is so unpleasant and makes so little sense that even her kids in the story don't want to be around her and her friends walk on eggshells because anything can set her off, and she doesn't feel like she has to be fair to anyone at all, even as she whines "that's not FAIR" to pretty much every other character more than once. Maybe that's true to life, but it doesn't make a compelling protagonist. The father shows inexplicably boundless compassion to one of the kidnappers and, although more sympathetic, is too one-dimensional to truly engage the listener.
I read a little about this book because it is confusing just to jump in. Turns out it is a sequel in a self-published set of four novels that was a hit in book clubs, clubs which I can only surmise had at least one member without any critical reading skills and an overabundance of forgiveness for bad writing choosing the book. I would die of alcohol poisoning if I had to take a shot every time "it broke his/her heart," but I would stay sober if I didn't have to drink during "it broke her heart...it hurt." As in, "it broke her heart to hear him say that. It hurt to know that is what he thought." Then, "it wasn't FAIR."
Oh, Lord, such a boring and actually irritating book. Irritating for what it should have been, with such a naturally compelling story. But it is plotted too poorly to enable the listener to sustain disbelief. One of the most glaring holes, which I couldn't believe until it was explicitly laid out, is that the surviving kidnapper, an elderly man married to the demented, now-deceased woman who had done the actual snatching, seemed to genuinely believe that his Alzheimer's-riddled wife just showed up one day with a 3 year old, with no clothes or papers, and that child was his granddaughter. "Hey honey, I'm home! Look what I got! It's a grandchild for us! Nevermind that she keeps crying for mommy and is absolutely terrified!" And all the times her journal was quoted where she says "this time, I'll do it right. This girl is my second chance." The guy is criminally stupid if he really believed it, and just plain criminal if he didn't. Either way, he belongs in jail, no matter how bad he feels now.
Reading this review, I guess that the book did arouse passion in me after listening to it. Passionate dislike and annoyance that I wasted hours of my life, though, probably aren't the reactions the author was looking for. Save your money.
It's got what you expect from a Patterson novel: action, fast pace, a tortured (former military) hero named Jack, titillating mysteries/side stories, and murder. It's really not special, really not terrible. Well, not terrible in a bad way.
The author re-imagines the Book of Ester as a love story. It is fun listening, even if the characters all feel sort of one-dimensional. It's not like the Bible is full of subtlety. (I've read a lot of the old testament. Jews good, others bad!) The author makes a credible stab at giving a human back story to the characters of the Bible, but she admits that it isn't faithful to the Bible's book, so don't listen to this instead of doing your theology homework.
The story is one of family relationships, specifically mother-daughter relationships. But she is too heavy-handed in her focus, using a sweeper brush instead of a fine point. She also writes NorCal culture in the 1990s as if no Indian people or subculture exists - this Indian adoptee has never eaten Indian food? Really? Or been to Fremont? Or heard of waxing? My uncle lived in Menlo Park from 1985 - 2003, and I can tell you this reeks of invention.
The author then pretends you can see through the air of Bangalore all the way to the sea. In 2004. And that you can take taxis there and not hit bad traffic.
These patent fabrications reinforce the feeling of artificiality that pervades the women's relationships with one another as well. It was a nice try, but really suffered from the forced details she made up trying to make the story more dramatic. It did not feel like it could be true, and the people didn't feel like they could be true, so when the latest emotional tragedy struck I found it hard to be moved.
This book starts out really promisingly, with vivid characters that are well fleshed out - even the tangental ones. I also like that an Asian man is a sexy love interest. The crew of the Damocles is forced to make premature First Contact with the occupants of the planet Didet when something goes wrong with their ship. They make the most of it, developing relationships and sharing technologies while the setup enables the author to explore a culture strikingly similar to our own. The setup then becomes using aliens as a device to explore intercultural relations and the fragile balance inherent in such.
Then the last two chapters come, and they clash stunningly with the chapters before. Not really the main characters, but the side characters who are suddenly used to maneuver the book into a sequel. Basically, the end has an unnecessary confession of a personal tragedy (as stated in the blurb, this isn't a spoiler) to pull at our emotions, then a manufactured crisis whose ending makes no sense and is inconsistent with the facts as presented, but does serve to launch the crew into another book and another adventure. As a listener, I was insulted. It's hard to give details without spoiling it, but you know how some sci fi conveniently forgets inherent human logic and even its own back story when it wants to advance some drama? That's what happens. Brought the story down from four to three stars in my opinion. I'm still sort of mad, and it's been days since I listened.
Look at the cover. Pretty white girl. Listen to the book. Pretty dark Cherokee girl.
Listen to the narrator. She can't hide her Australian accent. Listen to the words of the book. Oklahoma accent.
These may seem to be nit-picky, but they are extremely distracting because the dissonance between what you hear and see and what you are being told pulls you out of the story. Not that the story is anything special. Latest in the supernatural young adult genre. I wonder if there is any YA that *isn't* supernatural nowadays?
This will probably be made into a movie.
At first, I was startled by how deep the narrator's voice is. But since most of the characters are men, this is actually fine and lends the right air to this military action drama.
It must have been much easier for writers during the Cold War. There was one enemy: Communists (Russia or China would do, though in the 80s hermetic China seemed like a flyspeck in the world scene). So pick a villain, paint him red, and watch our American heroes save the day.
This book bridges from the Cold War to the modern day by making the Russian villain a traitor to his own democratic government, and the Russian president a weak, pro-West, and good-hearted figure. It then careens about the planet, jumping from subs to military bases to the NYSE and all around again. Each short scene is packed with action and plot development.
You won't be bored reading this book. The submarine scenes seem well researched (indeed, the first author is a retired sub captain). I'm not sure I believe all of the political moves, and no one in the book has apparently heard of Wikileaks or the internet. I like it when things tie up neatly, as the scenes in this book do, so it's hard to complain that some characters seem motivated by advancing an exciting storyline or that all the military dudes have unerring gut instinct.
I've never read Eggers before. In this novel, he puts together a story that delivers his message cleverly, if occasionally ham-handedly (we get the animal metaphor long before he has a character explain it).
The internet and modern culture's exhibitionism means that the universal death of privacy is imminent and possibly unstoppable. You will be assimilated. In this case, in the near yet unspecified future, this is by a company called The Circle, whose Bay Area campus sounds like a 20-year-old tech CEO's dream. The protagonist, Mae, represents us the sheeple who thoughtlessly overshare online. She drinks the Kool-Aid, quickly learning that the yawning, desperate loneliness of her life can be papered over with artificial metrics, such as the number of "smiles" followers send in or job ratings that seem to only range from 96 to 100. The book traces the evolution of Mae and her family, who don't want to live online, as The Circle relentlessly removes all other options.
This book is mostly 1984 with a touch of Animal Farm thrown in. There are a lot of unbelievable portions, but then, it's not believable that pigs will walk on their hind legs and strike a deal with farmers. It's all for metaphor. This book is a good read for people who think about the rapid change the internet has already brought to society. It's probably a better read for people who don't think about that at all.
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