United States | Member Since 2013
When I started the Harry Dresden series, the stories were a bit thin and the production values were pretty poor. James Marsters' (I swear I only recognized him after starting the first book) performance was credible, but plagued with weird mispronunciations. Fast forward to book 7, Dead Beat, and things have improved. Quite a lot.
The writing has gotten sharper, even more organically witty. The plots improve by degree, but there's only so much one can do with this material; Butcher does quite a lot. And Marsters is downright brilliant. Some of my favorite narrators are weak on voice characterization; Marsters is a genius at it. If the occasional spell intonation seems overblown, you just accept it because ever other thing he says is pitch-perfect. This is not an exaggeration; if you think carefully about the text and Marsters' delivery, you'll see that his subtlety is pretty impressive... and effective.
So, to sum it up: the stories, though a bit on the genretastic side, are getting better. The writing is well past good. The narration leaves many perpetual favorites in the dust. I do recommend starting at the beginning, though. If you do, stick with it. I almost didn't, and that would have been a shame.
I like this book well enough... though based on the plot alone I wouldn't have chosen it if it weren't part of the Anna Pigeon series. While it's well-written and thoughtful, it lacks entirely the charm of park discovery (and ranger life) that makes the series unique. There's nothing wrong with that, exactly... it just wasn't what I was hoping for. I would probably have been more comfortable with it if the wait between books were a little shorter, and I suppose that's an endorsement of a sort.
The book was a little better than I expected it to be. The comparisons to Dan Brown are inevitable; this is a far better-written book. The premise was decent enough, though you won't be the least surprised by the big reveal at the end. In fact, you'll be rolling your eyes wondering why Joe Lassiter can't add two and two.The last few chapters are kinda jammed with new characters and action, making me think the pacing was a little off... I'd like to have met a couple of those characters slightly earlier. (And the names of the two major characters introduced at the end are almost a bad joke, but it works fine really.) Dick Hill does a very good job with his narration, as usual, though frankly I might have made a different choice for such an accent-heavy book (not Hill's strong suit, in my opinion). All nitpicking aside, though, it's well-written and well-read and was a pretty fun listen throughout.
When I first listened to Spin, the first book in this trilogy, I thought I might very well be onto the best scifi experience of my life. A few years later, this concluding volume has left me a bit unsatisfied. The core mystery that underlies all three volumes, and is so captivating in Spin, gets "solved" in an almost off-handed way at the end of Vortex. And the solution won't exactly makes you shiver with delight. Or even interest.
But here's the thing: the books are so well-written that it almost doesn't matter. The stories themselves are engaging, the characters are generally worth investing in, the prose is weighty and never silly. (Silly is a concern for me when it comes to time-bending science fiction.) And the narration is, well, Scott Brick. You know exactly what you'll get before you start listening, and it'll be good.
So I'm giving it a decent rating and a big warning: if the middle book felt like a miss to you, this one probably will too. But if you enjoyed it anyway, this is worth a listen. Maybe you can make up a better ending for yourself after it's all done.
This novel finds Dave back in Louisiana, and Burke back to writing like he was in his prime. The plotting and pacing are crisp, the story is exciting and well-defined. Recent novels in the series have suffered from a mushy feel, a sense that the complexities of the story and the relationships between the characters aren't well-established. The language here is sharper, less prone to falling back on trusted Burke phrases (I don't recall anything in this novel being compared to a wire, or sounding like clicking... long-time fans will know exactly what I'm talking about). It's just really quite good. I am now listening to Heaven's Prisoners again, and this novel is of comparable quality... something I haven't been able to say in a few years. Also, I really miss Mark Hammer, but Will Patton does a great job with the narration of this one.
I really enjoyed this. The scale of it was impressive, but the stories kept a very personal feel. I wasn't put off by the length, being a fan of longish audiobooks. And, it was surprisingly funny in a very dry, British way. There were some minor weirdnesses--pacing near the end seemed to accelerate all out of proportion to the rest of the book, character development could have been a tad better--but overall I was really pleased with this, and sorry to hear its end.
I picked this up as a means of lessening my Harry Potter withdrawal. It's entirely different, but entertaining.
Cons: The character development is, as another reviewer noted, woefully lacking. The pacing is odd--I kept waiting for the real story to begin, but I think I was really waiting to know/care more about the characters. The finale is a bit unsatisfying. And the audio quality is quite poor, clipped and tinny even at the highest-quality level of compression.
Pros: Having said all that, the writing is quite good and entertaining. There are remarkably funny turns of phrase here and there, and a consistent level of wit throughout. I think the author should be able to infuse the characters with some of the narrator's charm in future releases; I certainly hope so. The reader is brilliant, seeming to meld a film noir style with some cartoonish touches, and it really works.
Overall, I think this is a good start, and I'll definitely continue the series. I love the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (for kids) feel.
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