I have always enjoyed John Irving's writing, but I haven't read anything by him in many years. This book did not disappoint.John Irving's has a wonderful skill of turning a phrase and makes the common ideas seem ridiculous and is always questioning convention. Brilliant! Joe Barrett's narration of this book is also brilliant. The range he uses to individualize each character enables the listener to "see" each character individually. I was a little skeptical to buy this book since I love John Irving and I didn't want the narration to "ruin" the story. I am enjoying this production tremendously and will encourage anyone to give it a listen.
First I want to say the narration was great and not in any way the reason for my review. I have read Daniel Suarez before and I liked him. I like science explanations and perhaps some of the physics was over my head. But the story line was trite and predictable. Super geniuses come up with major discoveries, but, you guessed it, there is a government cover up. The major discovery in the book is, essentially, anti-gravity. Okay that's an oversimplification, but you get the picture. So, the anti-government figures out how to use it for.....flying. But it isn't flying it's anti-gravity. So people fall off the earth. That was the only thing that was unique to the story. There are explosions and people dying and courageous escapes and redemption in the end. Ho-hum.
This story was written in 1959 and it shows. I never before appreciated our politically correct world until I read this authentic pre-civil rights book. I don't think any author today could authentically write in this style. It is amusing and horrifying at the same time at how ignorant the US was about race relations.
At any rate, I enjoyed this book primarily because it took place in a fictional town in Central Florida. I currently live in Florida so this aspect of the book made it more interesting to me.
I also read this book after I read, "One Second After," which is a modern post-apocalyptic book. Reading "Alas, Babylon" helped explain many of the things said in "One Second After." It was also interesting to read a nuclear holocaust book written so shortly after WWII ended. I am not from the "Duck and Cover" era, but from "Red Dawn" and other nuclear holocaust scares. I enjoyed this book for that reason. It did get a little trite and slow toward the end.
I love Will Patton's voice and I could listen to anything he reads.
This book starts off with a preface by Newt Gingerich as though the book has a very important message to tell the American people. I'm not quite sure what type of influence the author felt that Gingerich might have, but there it is.
The book is about how an EMP blast can and inevitably will cripple the United States and remove it as a superpower on the world stage. The moral of the story is that Washington knows about this threat and is doing nothing about it....so there's your politics.
There is obviously a conservative slant to this book because the main characters live in a wealthy small town in North Carolina. The author repeatedly voices his disdain for anyone taking psychotropic medications, heart medications, people who don't exercise and eat properly, prisoners, drug users and pacifists...oh, yeah, and people who live in Florida. He champions the armed services, veterans and diabetics.
In the end the book is nothing but fear mongering to scare the American people into believing that the end of the United States is inevitable when a nuclear bomb is detonated 100 miles in the atmosphere over Utah. What, I would like to ask Mr. Forstchen, would you like me to do about it? If you present a problem then it's only proper to offer a possible solution. As a child of the Cold War I have heard all this fearmongering before when we were told that the USA and the USSR would eventually annhilate each other by launching nuclear weapons. Perhaps an EMP blast will reduce the USA to medieval times, Mr. Forstchen, but I live in Florida and will be dead soon afterward.
I had this book in my wish list for quite awhile before I finally decided to buy it. The story was compelling enough that it held my attention until the end. I was disappointed with the ending because it merely made the story a lesson in morality, which is: You can't judge a book by its cover; or some other trite parable.
The story was almost like a non-sequitor by the way it started; its development; and its odd moral ending. It is as though the author was trying to give a particular person a private message. I don't know...when I read a novel, I want to be entertained not preached at.
This story was completely unexpected. It is a mystery that doesn't rely on sex, money and gore. While there are deaths involved in the story it doesn't involve the detailed blood and guts sensationalism on which many of today's mystery writers rely.
The characters are well-developed in an entertaining way. The author does not get bogged down in relationship interaction that often becomes cumbersome and unrealistic in other books. Each character has his or her own distinct personality without being annoying.
If you're looking for a light summer mystery which will hold your attention. This is your book.
I enjoyed this book and was disappointed to learn that her next book is coming out in about a year! Unfortunately by that time I will probably have forgotten all about this series. The book ends on a cliff-hanger for those of you who hate that. It is a good adventure/action story, which takes some predictable turns. Overall the story is entertaining and engaging. I predict a major motion picture by 2015. Think Hunger Games.
I haven't read Steinbeck in years and, honestly, avoided this one for a long time. I was so wrong. It is typical Steinbeck with his typical characters. I am enjoying every minute of it. I love the strong female protagonist.
My opinion of the harmonica is that it is a little loud compared to the rest of the recording. It sort of reminds me of "Oh Brother! Where Art Thou?" and helped me get into the period of the story. The harmonica player is fantastic and I would love to hear more of that particular player. Does anyone know who it is? The only problem is you don't know when the harmonica will break in and it can be jarring, plus it gets a little redundant.
The narrator is great and he has identifiable voices for each character. You can tell who is speaking before the author identifies the speaker.
Overall I really enjoyed this audiobook and I am inspired to read or re-read some Steinbeck in the near future.
I enjoyed this book and listened to it til the end. Murder/mysteries are my favorite genre as escapism and this is a good one. One reviewer stated that there is a lot of swearing in this book and that's true; however, it is true for one or two characters of the book and not all of them and not used in the narrative too much, if at all. Not all of the characters are likeable and, unfortunately, the characters which are easiest to dislike are the women. They are either nags, gossips, grumps, sluts or victims.
What I like about the book is that the author clearly conveys the brutality of the murder without being overly descriptive. I like Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels, but I find them to be far too graphic in blood and gore and that turns me off after awhile. Johnson focuses his stories more on the characters and descriptions of the western country and Native American beliefs than the gorey details of crimes. At times he gets a little long-winded in those descriptions, but eventually moves on. The ending was a bit of a disappointment, in my opinion.
George Guidall is an excellent narrator and I got used to listening to him in Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme novels. I recently listened to another book narrated by Guidall (not a Deaver book) and I can now honestly say that I am a little tired of him as a narrator. One reviewer described him as not having much of a range when voicing different characters and that's true.
I will likely listen to the next book in this series at some future date, but not until I have recovered from my current weariness of Guidall as narrator.
I loved this book mostly because of the comments made by the author. While listening I thought at times, "How dare he write this book!" And then Gaiman commented on that very thing at the end. He also commented on how some Americans criticized him for including some aspects of America and not others. I loved the inclusion of Rock City. I only wished he included other campy/quirky sites and ideas of Americana like the world's largest ball of string, South of the Border, the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, etc. But I can't complain too much since he mentioned the mermaids of Weeki Wachee! It just would have been more fun if he included more of our country's quirkiness, but I can't blame him since this is a large country. This is the first Gaiman novel I've read and if you're a little off like, I guess, I am you will enjoy this book too.
Recently I decided to catch up on my Sci-Fi reading since I am now finished with the Dresden Files series (sniff). This has got to be the hokiest science fiction I ever read (heard)! I decided to buy it because it was included on classic sci fi lists I've reviewed on the web. This is the first book of the series so the majority of the story was setting up characters; however, it was a very predictable story. Of course, the books were written in the 60's when this genre was new. Even so, I won't be buying any more installments of this series.
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