This is an amazing masterpiece of a story. A book written in the overwrought world of boarding schools somehow manages to push past the tired and trite to find not only a new story, but a new, heart-wrenching look at life and love. This book leaves you guessing, from the "will he, won't she" tension of a good teenage romance to the astounding twist that managed to catch someone who has read hundreds of teen fiction books by surprise to the "how is this going to work out" ending. John Green managed to take the ordinary, turn it into something extraordinary, then bring it around to something that anyone who has ever loved can connect with. The depth of the characters is at once amazingly deep and tantalizingly not quite enough in that perfect blend that makes you sad the book is over but somehow unable to think of anything it was lacking. If you like the non-fantasy teen genre, do yourself a favor and get this book. You won't regret it.
This is an amazing edge-of-your-seat thriller that leaves you guessing right up to the end, and beyond. The author starts the story pretty slowly but, before you realize it, you have already identified with the main character, and just when you get there, the world falls apart. At it's core it is a moderately creative riff on the classic zombie story, but it is the willingness of the author to delve into the parts of an end of the world tale that most stories shy away from that make is amazing. The author pulls no punches in describing the sheer horror of her universe and there are moments I found myself queasy at the clarity with which I could see the scenes. There is a solid, if sometimes slavish balance between teenage sentimentality and cold-hard fact and my only true critique is that, while most of the characters are well-nuanced, several of them are dangerously cliche (the unrealistically pouty pre-teen, the haunted and scarred veteran, etc)
The narration was spot on and captured the characters well, though I found myself annoyed by the whiny voice of one of the characters. This fit the story and the writing well, but almost pushed me over the edge.
In all, this is a great listen and well worth a credit. Doubly so because, while it says it is a trilogy, I didn't notice that when buying it and would have sworn that the author deliberately finished the story. Even if you don't love it, you will leave with some closure.
Divergent is a fabulous book that paints a picture of a sweepingly altered future, with an easily relateable touch-point in the main character. While the post-apocalypic setting isn't clearly explained, the circumstances that got us from now to then are neatly bypassed, and all but the most basic functions of the society are left alone, this book is, at it's core a very accessible story about a young girl who leaves her family to follow her own strength and passion. Along the way, we watch the character grow to become more than she, or we, ever thought she could be. The story is clearly intended to be the foundation for a series, and leaved a lot to the future. There are tantalizing hints for the careful listener about possible future plot lines, but they don't detract from the core of the story, which is gripping and compelling. The narration is wonderful and captures the emotion and internal conflict of the book beautifully.
This is a deep, insightful, painful, tragically real book that gives readers a rare glimpse into the world of not one but two very different, but somehow deeply connected, inter-related lives. The emotions, the feelings, the awkwardness, it all rings absolutely true and is amazingly transmitted through the narrators. The book takes what could have been a confusing mess and, by using two authors, turns it into a masterpiece performance that makes the story much more than the sum of it's pages. I love audiobooks but, usually, I know that I am sacrificing something of the story. Not in this case. The narrators make sure you know the point of view you are in, portray multiple voices well, and even read what could be a tedious writing device, IM screen names, with an accelerating pace that makes you feel what the characters must be feeling. I finished this book feeling like I had connected to not only the characters, but the vision of the writers in a very big way. This is the way audiobooks should be done.
I suppose I only have myself to blame for my unhappiness in this case. The book is exactly as advertised "an irreverent romp." This is obviously a case where the print version of this book is probably amazing, but it doesn't translate well in the listening. Minutes long lists of dates and events at the end of each chapter are probably very interesting when you look at a timeline. Listening to it...less so. Also, the topic "romps" quite frequently, meaning that there is almost a vignette quality to the book, jumping from era to era and topic to topic pretty quickly. I gave it a good try a couple of times and made it more than half-way, but I just can't stay into this book...I may have to read it in paper form though, because it sounds very interesting.
This is a decent memoir-style journey through the war-torn places on the 20th century. The author talks of his personal journey to many places we only hear about in the news. It is both helped and hindered by the author's personal experiences however. At times, it creates an amazing sense of realism, as the author tells of the gritty details of live in a war-torn region. At other times, it feels more like a self-proclaimed victory lap as the author almost seems to be looking for a sense of awe or amazement from the readers for his career choice. While it is a great way to hear about the world, it is clearly through the lens of an author who is proud of himself for seeing it.
This is a dense, rich, massive epic of a novel. Exactly what you expect and love from Neil Stephenson. Unfortunately, it lacks the trademark tongue-in-cheek humor that Stephenson does so well. Once you can move past that and accept this book on its own, you will be pulled into the familiar but at the same time wondrous world of 'Arbre' that Stephenson has built. In the style of Herbert's Dune and SnowCrash/Diamond Age before, Stephenson is willing to put in the pages to completely flesh out the world he has created. Be warned, at times, the pace of the book mirrors the pace of life in the monastery in which much of the book is set; slow, deliberate, and with patience bordering on the eternal.
I strongly recommend this book if you are looking to get lost in a new world, but be warned, it is a definite investment of time, and it takes some patience to get into.
I love Neil deGrasse Tyson to begin with, so this was a natural use of a credit. It is amazingly well-written, with just the right mix of hard-core science and easy to understand analogy. The topics are amazingly interesting and he explains them in a way that makes it fun and funny!
The only quibbles I have, which hold it back from the 5th star are 1) the material is a bit dated in some obvious places. While I don't expect a cutting-edge science read to be a classic, the constant mentions of Pluto as a planet get in the way a bit; and 2) it was compiled from a series of articles written over a span of years so, while Tyson does his best to tie the book together with comments like "as we learned in Section 2" for the most part, it feels like a series of discrete articles rather than a cohesive book.
All in all, well worth the credit, a great value for the money and a great listen.
The book is a definite must read for lovers of spy-tech and spy history. It is very detailed in its stories of individual instances used to illustrate techniques and technologies. Unfortunately, it meanders just a bit in its tellings. In using individual people as vehicles for technology, it seems to cover large spans of time (years or decades) talking about a specific peice of spycraft, then jumps back in time to tell yet another story of another person, in the same time periods, to talk about another peice of technology. Finally, the use of the title word (Spycraft) for every peice of technology, technique, and procedure, while potentially acurate, gets some what distracting as you listen along and hear everything described as a "new piece of spycraft" or an "innovative development in spycraft."
All in all, the reading is magnificent, the stories are fun and the technology is innovative. A great genre piece.
I am ever a Neil Stephenson fan and this book didn't fail me. It is fast-paced, high-energy and mind-bending in its scope and complexity. There is the quentisential Stephenson mix of humor, science, and excitement tied together by an amazing focus on characters. The only things holding this book back from a fifth star are the minor quibbles about the voices (the attempts at mid-west/southern, old man voices just don't quite hit home) and less scientific explanation than Stephenson usually adds to his stories (you can decide if that is good or bad in your own preferences. I felt left wanting more depth in the explanations, but overall it is most certainly worth the listen!
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