Growing up I didn't like Dumas, teachers pushed the Three Muskateers in front of us several times saying how great is was, and it was boring. I'm so glad I got this book.
The book takes some time to get into. I started listening to it with my wife and 4 or 5 hours into it my wife asked me to turn it off, it's just to depressing! But from there it just gets better and better. The wheels within wheels come together, the story opens up and becomes a real adventure that had me listening any moment I could.
The narration is superb, John Lee does a great job with French names and town. He has a great pace and was truely enjoyable to listen to. You may not realize how important this is until you remember the length.
After the book I watched the movie, and that's a very different affair. The movie added a lot of action, chase scenes, shooting, which the book just doesn't need.
The book works through the details of how Pixar got it's start, the key people, the key funders, and then goes through the movies and how they got their start. It's well written, well read, and boring. Don't get me wrong, if you're an Apple fan boy and love all things Jobs you'll like this book.
I wanted to know why of all the failed computer graphics companies who this one made it. I was more interested in how company culture, or what decision were made that helped the company survive. Somehow the top managers convinces some pretty rich people to keep Pixar alive and pour money into it. They managed to keep people working for the sheer joy of working, etc. It's touched on briefly, but that's it. All in all a good documentation on the growth of Pixar, but that's all it.
First, realize this is a Spider Robinson book based off 12 pages of notes left by Robert Heinlein. He wrote it as Spider Robinson would, not some caricature of Robert Heinlein. That said, it's a fun adventure.
The narrator was good, and the story worked along well. It's not an earth shattering, point of view changing sci fi book, but not all can be. The universe he sets up seems interesting, and I wouldn't mind a follow up book.
Let's look at the review in 2 sections, the narration and the book. Overall it's a fun read and I'm glad it's available. Will this book stand alone as a classic, no.
Narration: Davis attempts to do accents, and Louise's accent almost killed the book. She's French Canadian and Davis gave her a Parisian French accent. They are as different as American English and British English, with no love lost between the two cultures. Being Canadian and very familiar with French Canadian's speaking English it made me cringe every time the character appeared in the story. Oh no, he might use that awful accent again! Thankfully, she is a minor character. The rest of the narration is enjoyable, though the accents come and go.
Book: His explanation of earth almost makes me want to give up and crawl back into a cave. The author seems to basically setup Ponter's world as the garden of eden, a wonderful place with no crime, rich in technology and living in perfect harmony with nature. He then contrasts this with our world and the mess we've made of it. While he's right on somethings, it seemed too lopsided. Almost to the point of, what's the point? I'm guessing later books in the series this might change.
I would not describe the rape scene as graphic. Not if you've seen any movies in the last 25 years anyways. It's well described, and enough for the reader to know why the character is the way she is. Was it required for this book, no. For the series? I'm guessing yes.
I can understand why people don't like this book. It's not full of action, it doesn't open with lasers firring on spaceships, it takes time and goes through fantastic detail. I really could believe I was on mars. And the details are fantastic especially when you consider this book is 15 years old. Since the book was published we've had 3 rovers on mars, several more orbiters, etc.
The book follows the lives of the first people to land on mars as viewed from several individuals each in turn. Just as I was starting to get comfortable with that character he switches people and we start learning about someone new. I found it annoying at times.
If you wonder, could humans live on mars? How could we get there? What would it be like on mars? Then you will like this book. He explores not only the technical challenges but the political problems, emotional strains that anyone going to mars would face. If you want a thriller or action book, it's probably best to look elsewhere.
Barbara Kingsolver does know how to tell a good story. She manages to turn what can be a very boring topic and makes it relatively interesting. For anyone who hasn't grown a large garden, eaten their own food, or know why asparagus isn't available in August, then this is a good book. She talks about why, when and how food is grown.
In the vein of making a good story she also anthromorphize all animals and plants. For example, the end story turns a large part on turkeys she is raising. Having raised the exact breed of turkeys she does perhaps gave me a little more insight. Her story is cute, but they aren't people. Applying human attributes to turkeys, or any animal, is annoying and not very helpful. They will squat or want to mate with a towel on a stick.
You also have to be careful. She wants to return her turkeys to a more "natural" animal that can raise their young and help the breed survive. This desire may kill the breed. Bourbon Red Turkeys have never lived on their own, they are a commercial breed developed in the 1900 and raised for meat. If you want to save the breed you need people to buy the meat, which then encourages people to raise the breed to meet the demand. This means it has to be affordable. Having birds sit on their own eggs and raise the breed means a female may raise 6 or 7 birds a year. They can produce up to 50 eggs/year, artificially incubated that's 50 turkeys. Heritage turkeys are already expensive enough to raise and sell, you don't need to increase costs more. Over the last 100 years they almost died out since they have little economic value and are raised as a hobby. If we're not careful they will be lost forever.
Her parts of the book are mixed with commentary from her partner and daughter. She's pretty lose with the facts in the first place, but in these asides lack total balance or realism. They really do detract from the book.
I really did love the first title in the series, and plan to continue through the rest. There are 2 parts to any review of an audio book, the story and the narration, so let's break this into two.
1. The story. It was slow to get into, especially for a short book. It starts as a series of meetings, and slowly start pulling the story together. By about 3/4 of the way through you start to get back to what you excepted from Dune. It does a nice job telling the story of Paul, and over all was an enjoyable story. 3.5 stars.
2. The narration. I found it more than acceptable, and much better than many books. I was a little hesitant after reading some reviews, but it was no where near as bad as I had feared. It wasn't fantastic like the first book which truely is stellar. So I can understand how this would be a led down compared to that book. Over all it worked well and was an enjoyable listen, and it did not get in the way of the book, and may have even helped. When compared to other books 4/5 stars.
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