According to the epilogue, Norwegian Wood made Haruki Murakami so famous that he had to flee Japan for a time to avoid what he considered excessive adulation. This is a novel that appeals to college students since it dwells on things about which college students obsess: Love, suicide, drinking, sex, mental health, music, and the inconsistent and often hypocritical behavior of their fellow students.
Unfortunately, James Yaegashi's narration almost spoiled the book for me. He is careful to correctly pronounce all Japanese names, which is a big plus. But he reads too slowly, with many long pauses between sentences, and much of the reading is flat and expressionless. I had to listen at 2x speed to sustain my ability to follow the story. I think Yaegashi's voice was perfect for the central character, Toru, but he failed to create plausible voices for the female characters, using a creaky voice that made the women sound elderly.
I can't say, because I haven't read the print book.
My favorite character, of course, was Stephanie Plum. She's plucky, raunchy, honest, and hilarious.
C. J. Critt's narration brought the conversations to life. Her interpretation of the various characters was understated but sufficient to tell them apart. Women can't imitate men's voices convincingly, and C. J. Critt didn't try, but I could still understand immediately who was speaking.
The story was interesting enough that, if I'd had the time, I could have listened to it all in one sitting. Life intervenes, however, so I listened in two-hour chunks.
This is the first Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich. I enjoyed listening to it, and I plan to continue with the series.
I expected this book to be aimed at the scientifically aware public, but instead this book seems to be written for genomics researchers. People without training in molecular biology will find this book difficult to understand.
Unfortunately, this book is not very good even for genomics researchers. Although the information is up to date, it is presented without much organization, background, or context, and the author makes heavy use of scientific jargon without much explanation.
The narrator, Karen White, tries hard, but her delivery is halting, she mispronounces some words (e.g., kilobase, polymerase, etiology), and she sounds as if she doesn't understand what she's reading.
Clarke clearly did a lot of research before writing this novel, and his writing is intelligent and well-organized. As usual with Clarke's novels, the emphasis is on technology, not people, and the characters are cardboard cutouts with no real personalities.
Much of the novel is out of date. We know now that there are not seas of dust on the Moon. Sexism is overt, and the purpose of women in the book is seemingly only to serve men. All scientists and engineers in the book are men. This reflects the cultural attitudes of the early 1960s (as reflected in the "Mad Men" television series).
As another reviewer commented, Clarke completely missed the development of computers and other electronic devices. I was amused by one scene in which the passengers of the stranded vessel gather together their reading materials, which include a couple of paperback novels and a newspaper. No one is carrying a Kindle-like or iPod-like device for reading or listening to books.
Despite these flaws, the story is still entertaining as Clarke moves logically through the consequences of the sinking of a boat-like vessel under several meters of dust and the difficulties of finding the vessel and rescuing the passengers.
???Nightfall,??? by Isaac Asimov, is one of the greatest science fiction short stories ever written. The premise is, what happens on a planet where total darkness occurs once every two thousand years? This adaptation is pretty good, if you don't mind old-fashioned radio acting. This is worth more than $0.95 (or $0.66 for members).
This is a weird book. The story wanders around, with no real character development. Some of the science is pretty good (for 1940), and some is horribly bad. Unfortunately, Jim Roberts reads this book like a grocery list. It's a good cure for insomnia, but not very interesting.
This book was so difficult to listen to, so gloomy, so depressing, so stressful, that it took me ten months to finish listening to it. Still, it was well worth it.
The first 3/4 of The Diamond Age is brilliant, but Stephenson couldn't sustain the story, and the story crashes to a dissatisfying end. Jennifer Wiltsie's narration is excellent, especially given the number of voices she has to sustain.
I was disappointed with Little Dorrit; the book is not nearly as good as Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend. Dickens's writing is always at its weakest with his tiresomely good female characters. The plot is preposterous and a little dull.
Anton Lesser's performance is outstanding. He brings all the characters to life in their own voices and mannerisms; it's worth the price of the audiobook to hear his interpretation of Flora Finching.
"The Drunkard's Walk" is a fascinating book about randomness and the role it plays in our lives. I have a good background in statistics, but Mlodinow tells many interesting stories that I hadn't heard before. I rate the book five stars for content.
Unfortunately, the reading performance is poor. The reader, Sean Pratt, gives a halting performance, with far too many pauses in the middle of sentences. It's as if Pratt is trying to think about the content while he's reading, but the content is too much for his brain. If Pratt had read complete sentences without pausing, the book might have been only six hours long instead of eight. It's this poor performance that makes me rate the book at two stars.
I recommend that you buy and read this book for yourself.
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