This book is about a young, smart inexperienced but not emotionally fragile woman who meets a world-savvy, sexually experienced, rich man. In the beginning they misunderstand and dislike/distrust each other and themselves, but a deep relationship ensues nevertheless, with each opening up about secrets and relationship needs along the way. Sound familiar? If you enjoyed the self-exploration and relationship-unfolding aspects of 50 shades, you will like it in this book, too.
In the case of Gabriel's Inferno, imitation is not only flattery, it is successful for the most part. The characters and story are vastly different than 50 shades despite the similarity mentioned above. Another major difference is the absence of explicit sex scenes. There is plenty of longing and sensuality, but don't get this book if you want a sex scene to read every few chapters -- you're going to be disappointed and have to make it up in your head. I don't think I would have listened to this book had I known that from the start but I enjoyed it nevertheless. It had everything else but that.
The story seemed longer than it needed to be. Not that it was boring (it was not) but I kept thinking, "Ok, THIS will be the plot turning event" but that never happened. Rather, there were small moves forward here and there as the story unfolded. Lots of little raised and resolved plot aspects as you got to know the two of them. Maybe a bit too much like a lot of teasing only to be let down at just the right moment, if you know what I mean. It's not that THAT isn't also fun, right, and then there is a great ending.
The narrator bothered me a little in the beginning because his sensual voice occasionally sounded more smarmy than inviting. Of course, that's to my ears, and yours might love it. On the other hand, Gabriel is an unsavory character at that point in the story, so maybe it is fitting. As the story went on, I found the narrator to be expert in his ability to capture and express all kinds of emotions from all the characters. Even without intense and explicit sex scenes (which I would love to hear this narrator do!), the narrator made Gabriel's expressions of love, need and desire extremely, uhm, worth listening to!
Many people complained that the writing in 50 shades was poor and everyone was just reading it for the explicit content. I never agreed with that and felt it was a solid piece of romance story telling, better than most. I would say the same for Gabriel's Inferno. It gets great marks from me for character development and for exploring the way that our personal experiences create obstacles for us and we need to learn to open up and trust that one person in order to grow. Is it great American Literature, no, but it is not junk.
Overall, I'm glad I took the time to get to know these characters and I am definitely going to get the next in the series. I'm not sure if this was the first book or not, but if not, the first wasn't needed at all for me to get involved with these characters.
I am a female who dabbles in martial arts for kicks (ha ha) and who also enjoys sci-fi as well as romance novels, so that tells you that this reader is not a macho male martial arts nut nor a die-hard sci-fi nut. I liked the book but I think it was lighter fare than the aforementioned "nuts" would find interesting.
There really wasn't much mystery or strategizing. There was romance but the scenes ended just short of graphic description (which to me was a disappointment). The sci-fi was not science-based or realistic at all in terms of flitting among the planets, but in terms of what humans might do with a little more technology to misuse, it was interesting.
The writing was insightful and well-paced just not deep (nor too light). The reader did a good job and did not distract from the story.
I expected a sensual love story taking place in Japan. What I got was a quasi spy novel with strong character development dotted throughout with excellent tidbits about people, governments, life choices, etc.
I say quasi-spy story because there is no actual espionage nor any mystery here about who did what and why to whom. However, the main character is a spy (now retired) and the majority of the book is about how he became that (backstory) and what he's going to do now with one last job plopped on his plate (the rest of the story).
The author has been admonished in some of the low-rated reviews for bashing Western societies and elevating Eastern and I can certainly say that there is fodder for that view in the book, its' just that I tend to actually agree with the author's poor view of industrialized, materialistic society (while I live nicely within it........). I found many lines and discussions that were so insightful I wanted to stop the recording and write them down (did not do, but should). I looked the author up on Wikipedia, after all, how could I not be intrigued by an author with only one name, obviously just a pen name? He is a intellectual, a professor, that indeed did "check out" of US society in favor of Europe, but he does not sound angry just realistic (to me).
My favorite aspect of the book was the insights. The narrator did a fine job, creating a different voice for different characters and I especially like the voice he chose for the main character as an adult. The story was unsurprising and incredibly long and involved but not bad.
I think you will enjoy this book if you enjoy learning how WW2 affected China and Japan (from an individual's point of view) and if you like a trained assassin with a heart who turns out to be the good guy (and if you don't mind FBI being the bad guys).
This book was my type of book....after all, who buys one of these without wanting to read them! But I mean not only is it the genre that I like, it was a book within the genre that I actually cared for. I did not find it cheesy or too light or too ....... anything. It was just a good romance that happened to be between two guys. It was about am I right for this relationship? Am I doing the right thing for myself? For the other? Am I enough or not of what they need? You know, all that self-questioning and worry we get as we delve into a relationship.
The sex scenes were explicit and well-written as part of the story not as THE story. In other words, not just gratuitous sex scenes, but rather they were moments that showed you something about a character's mind or feelings or moved the story along (for the most part).
The story was well written and thoughtful but predictable,,,,,,but who cares, it's pleasure reading not deep meaning time or literature class.
The only complaint I have is that the narrator chose unappealing voices for all characters except the Duke. He gave the love interest an accent that I thought made him sound dumb and uneducated and unattractive. He also gave a similar voice as either the Duke or his love interested to all other characters (they were all minor characters) and so sometimes it was hard to tell who was speaking. Also, the characters were 20-somethings and the narrator sounds considerably older. The narrator did a fabulous job with getting emotions, intonations and the sighs and curses spewing from all those hot and heavy moments spot-on.
Fantasy is not my favorite genre. I do not like Tolkein or dragon-y stories. I do, however, like coming of age stories, stories of kids growing into roles or powers they were unaware they had, stories with social/political issues to be dealt with and stories with a hero fighting for good against evil. Star Wars, for example.
Ok, so now that you know what I like, I can say that this was a beautifully written book with a contrived world that is believable and very well-drawn characters that you really care about.. There are no faeries, elves or dragons or creatures. There is no magic but there is a power that these humans have that we don't, IF they can learn to tap into it. There are issues about power and politics aplenty. There is not a lot of action in this story. I saw one reviewer noted that it was therefore boring but to me the interpersonal relationships were the story. So, if you're looking for adventure and swashbuckling, look elsewhere.
The narrator is good enough. He didn't vary his voice much between characters and so sometimes I had difficulty telling who was speaking, but the authors writing always cleared that up really fast, as if it were written for such confusing audio issues, but it was not, of course. The narrator brings the right emotions in, the right pauses and sighs in...you know, just that extra touch that brings the story to life. The voice is of a much older man than the boy, pre-teen and teen in the story, but it is written as the character is reflecting back on this time from an older point of view, so it works.
Overall, solid writing, enjoyable listen.
I don't normally read spy novels, but I love James Bond and Mission Impossible movies, and hubby and I were going to be listening on a road trip, so I opted for this book that sounded part spy novel, part romance.
It is written by a real intelligence agent apparently, and I can believe it, as the book had amazing details about how spies move, think, operate. These details made the story richer and fascinating, in my opinion.
The romance was definitely in there, but the reason I can't call the story really a romance has to do with the way the book was written: There is little dialogue, with the narrator telling you what characters are doing, feeling, thinking. That, plus the narrator's even, cool tone of voice kept the reader/listener at more of a distance. The romance was one aspect among many in the plot, no more no less.
I got caught up in the story because of the author's ability to build the characters (and fast!) and to make you feel you're right there. I think the story was somewhat predictable, which is strange for a spy novel (and to a newbie spy reader at that) but that did not detract at all from wanting to know the details of how it was going to play out.
I'm not sure how to rate the narrator, whether it was his reading or the author's "voice" (style of writing) coming through. The narrator was easy to understand and got inflections right on emotions when there was dialogue but overall he used an almost monotone or rather mono-emotion delivery with a cadence and pacing that was superimposed almost over the story. It did not detract from nor aid the story. In a way, it was perfectly fitting that it was cold ad distant, seeming to just "tell it like it is." Was his voice entertaining, no.
One issue I had with the audible experience was that the author tended to start chapters with this format: Mr. Smith, seeing that it was noon, headed out and.....That's not from the book! But starting the chapter with a name, and often the name is Russian and they all sound the same to me, means that I don't hear it at first and then a sentence or two later I'm wondering who is doing the action. In a printed book you can go back and look (and I also have a good visual memory) but you can't do that with an audible version (hard to find the right place to go back to) so at times I just had to listen and work it out.
Both hubby and I looked forward to getting back in the car after a pit stop to hear what happened next, so it worked great for our road trip!
I am not a Steven Pressfield person, didn't even really know who he was before I looked him up after ordering this book, but I wanted to read an artist's thoughts on creating art, and how hard it can be; I didn't care who the artist was. However, the book turns out to be very much from a male, former marine, do it or die point of view (the author's background). There was much in the book that I could identify with and I really loved the first part, which is on how to overcome resistance to working. What artist is there who doesn't find everything and anything else to do other than the work of their favorite yet most challenging thing? There were a lot of stories and insights about it that I could "take away" to use in real life. The last part was supposed to be transcendent, tying together philosophy, science and religion. It didn't work for me because I don't share his religious views, but his points were not radical or strange. I believe there is some useful info in here for everyone, at some point in their creative life. The reader did an excellent job, but he sounded all too tough and male and that probably made me feel separate (being female).
First, I have to admit that I did not finish listening to this book. Second, I have to say that general modern americal literature is not my favorite genre (I usually read sci-fi, paranormal romance and non-fiction). I was an English minor and love to read, and I know that good writing comes in many forms, so I bought Gone Girl because everyone said it was so good. The moment I started listening to it, I understood why people loved it! The insights of the author and the way they were translated to the page resonated for me! It was a joy to read/listen to. But a few more chapters in I started to just not care. I enjoyed the insights about life for thier own sake and I enjoyed thinking about the writing as an art form, but I did not care about the story or the characters enough to continue reading all the details ....and there was plenty of detail. The details were actually the interesting part, there just was no story.
After giving it one more try, I decided to go on-line and read reviews to decide if it was worth continuing. I found that there were many, many people who were highly disappointed by the ending. I had no idea what the ending was, but how awful to be considering whether to finish a book or not only to hear that the end is unfulfilling! I decided to read comments that contained spoilers and found out not only what the ending was but that other people had the same response as I did.....they did not liek the people/characters so they did not like the story. After reading a commentary on the ending by the book's author, I felt I'd had the whole experience as if I read the book, so I didn't finish it.
I know this is not a review that gives you much to go on in terms of whether you should read it or not, so that's why I suggest you read the good reviews and the bad and decide whether it's worth the effort.
"Decent" as is a satisfying read but nothing to write home about.
The narrator did a great job of reading as if acting when it came to dialogue - when someone was speaking from pain, joy, etc., you heard it in the narrator's voice. On the other hand, the narrator used an overly effeminate voice inflected with the tones of expression one might hear among men in a hair salon, but the characters were in the military and might or might not have wanted or needed to be inclined that way. Not for all the voices, really just one and spattered throughout others. It doesn't ruin the reading by any means, but was a distraction for me.
The story is quite predictable, but the details within what you know is going to happen are satisfyingly individual to this story and these characters. You KNOW how it's going to turn out, but it's still an interesting journey. I thought the author's ability to observe people in real life and translate those personalities to writing was above average. A main part of the story included preachiness about views on whether it's ok for men to like men and about how church doctrine (highly similar to Christianity) ruins people and families by telling them what's right and wrong vs. letting them be themselves. It doesn't bother me, but it might be too much for some readers (but then, why would they be reading this book at all?).
The physical scenes between the main characters (there were none between other characters) fit in well with the story, they were not merely put in gratuitously. They all involved caring and relationship between consenting adults. They were fairly brief and not nermerous, but you definitely wouldn't want anyone but a consenting, interested partner of your own to hear them by mistake.
I probably should give the book 4 stars instead of just 3, but athough I enjoyed it quite a bit Its just one of many I enjoy quite a bit, so nothing really stands out. On the other hand, it is definitely decent writing and performance all the way around. I guess I'm picky!
I was unable to finish listening beyond the first several chapters due to the narrator's voice. He wasn't monotone, but he had a cadance that remained the same regardless of what was going on in the words. He also did not have different voices for the two main characters and did not pause for normal lenths of time at puncutation, so it was impossible to keep track of who was speaking. It was a frustrating and annoying experience. Since I didn't finish listening to the story I can't judge it, but it seemed pretty average.
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