Plenty of interesting observations here. I've worked for a Japanese-based company for 15 years, and the explanations/observations about this particular culture were spot-on (and, I'm sure my Japanese freinds would agree about the many more conclusions made about Americans).
One warning: the Narrator's reading style really bothered me. I've purchased 20+ Audiobooks, and have never really been bothered by a narrator to this degree before. I got through the book by setting my iPhone to "2x" speed. Before buying, listen to the excerpt and make your own conclusion.
As a runner who recently turned 40, I'm able to related to many of the observations here. That said, I came away with very little inspiration or positive messages from this one. While there's much passive acknowledgement that positive EXISTS and the author is thankful for the experiences, the majority of the words seem to dwell on inevitable disappointment associated with aging.
20 Hours in, and I'm just not sure I'm willing to finish this one... This would be the first of 100+ Books (Fiction & Non-fiction) that I will abandon. I'm not a stranger to longer books (Count of Monte Cristo, Atlas Shrugged, The Stand...), but this one feels like suffering due to:
1. Outright terrible narration/production... Virtually EVERY sentence read begins at double the volume that it ends with... prepare for ears being blown out at each start, followed by inaudible words near the end.
2. Lack of any "breaks" (such as a Pause) when switching from one "scene" and character to another... it sometimes takes several minutes of reading before you can realize that you're now following some other character in some other storyline in some other part of the universe
3. The "Universe" & Storyline create moments of interest, but there is also plenty of overly-detailed fiction that just isn't thought-provoking IMO. Obviously, others feel quite different and the author (and this series) seems to have earned the respect of critics, so I'll just have to believe this just "isn't for me."
While not "bad", I was disappointed by this one. Listened to it immediately following Old Man's War, and found far fewer thought-provoking scenarios and surprises. Also, I was really annoyed by the young girl character that appears near the end of the story- don't think I could listen to the narrator utter one more sentence using his "little girl voice."
Like many others, I devoured his first two books ("Daemon" and "FreedomTM") which were essentially a single concept split into books. After being underwhelmed by his third- which struck me as more "Michael Bay Movie" than thought-provoking Sci-Fi- I thought Suarez might have been an author with one great story to tell. Thankfully, I was wrong. "Influx" is very much a perfect Thriller, with plenty of intelligent Sci-Fi and Dystopian elements woven in. I think this is best place for any new Suarez reader to start.
As others have said, don't read too much about this book- just dive in, and be prepared for a mystery, thriller, haunted, steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, adult Scooby Doo. I can't imagine any listener not finding something to pull them in.
Narration is top-notch. I have listened to 70+ Audiobooks, and no other narrator manages to pull off so many characters so well.
I love biographies that don't read like fiction, and this is one of the best. No matter if you're not a huge tennis fan or barely remember Andre- I found myself disappointed that I had been so oblivious to many of these stories (thanks to YouTube, I've been catching up on many of the big events as I listened to this book).
Andre, of course. He's not perfect, and I wouldn't want to be him. His taste is music is awful, and appears to choose to be surrounded by an assortment of eccentric circus-worthy outcasts without even realizing it. Just like all of us, he's weird and flawed, and just trying to live the best life he can.
Narration is clear and well-paced (no need for 1.5x Playback speed here). Only "gripe" is his voice for female characters (it's the same for both of Andre's wives).
Sat on my Wish List forever- ended up blowing through the 18 hour book in only 2 weeks (while commuting & work-outs). No regrets.
Agent Zigzag was centered around a single character, and was excellent. Operation Mincemeat was written around a relatively small operation, and I enjoyed it as well. Double Cross attempts to use the similar character-based (fiction-like) writing style, but becomes lost in (what feels like) hundreds of characters throught Europe who are somehow associated with the massive D-Day invasion. "Page after page" seemed to revolve around minute details about individuals- what secretaries looked like, their interests, their demeanor, etc. Just as I began to form a picture of a person, it felt as if we moved on to someone else. In many cases, I feel like I learned details about random people who never were mentioned again.
Narration was pretty good, although I agree with others who suggest that Russian & German "accents" were overdone.
I discovered Atlas Shrugged before this earlier work, which (I think) explains my minor disappointment/complaints. There are many similarities here, as a protagonist stands alone from the masses around them and big moments are spoken in court rooms media (Radio in Atlas Shrugged, Newspaper editorials here). Ayn's thoughts are simply better assembled and the story is more worthy of one's time in the later work IMO. Still, "The Fountainhead" is worthwhile read with top-notch narration (although I found 1.5x playback speed to be best using the iPhone App).
During "Atlas Shrugged," I found the little to support the popular criticism of Rand's philosophy and writing talents. During this work, I found myself frustrated and wanting to echo them at times.
While I found this to be less enjoyable than "Agent Zigzag," I was truly surprised to learn how effective this well-known operation was. Recommended.
I now think those guys fishing for crabs on the Discovery Channel have it easy.
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