From spending time in many of these places myself I can say that the book is well-done in its portrait of China, its politics, and its cultural temperament. There are fascinating stories in here and poignant ones. If you have any interest in China you will love this book, and if you are IN China, you should be listening to it.
Deep Storm is not bad, but it is certainly not special. Even the great Scott Brick can't work enough magic to take what amounts to a version of Chrichton's "Sphere" (and Cameron's "The Abyss") and elevate it into great literature. The reveals at the end are creative, but they also feel disengaged from the main character's journey. We never really understand why THESE characters are in THIS novel... the action around them does not really seem to elucidate much about them. They seem deep enough to breathe and bleed, but not much more than that. It's a lightweight thriller with science fiction undertones, but it reinvents nothing.
The novel is a fun listen for book lovers as it centers around a famous author, her mysterious past, and a spooky house filled with secrets. Her biographer unravels the tale and its filled with heartache and not a little bit of cruelty. Yet there's a magical quality in peeling back the layers of a story, and of a storyteller's life, separating fact from fiction and uncovering the source of creativity, be it a well of creativity or one of darkness. The reader is reserved, but good. The missing fifth star in my rating is for a lack of... innovation. The story is engaging, but it can't be said that it breaks new ground.
This book was written for people who in 2012 are anywhere from 38-45 years old... who grew up with the era of videogames (the 80s). It certainly can be enjoyed by others, but that's the target audience. The story is filled with references to videogames, role-playing games, MMORPGs and the like. Fans will be thrilled by the references throughout and Wil Wheaton does a nice job making the main character feel real. The story is complex, woven as it is into the fabric of a virtual computer game, but to listen is to go on an adventure and the book satisfies in its conclusion.
This is a famous sci-fi title and award winner that should be celebrated for its big ideas more so than its drama. The concept of the Ringworld is big, fun, and treated in a realistic manner -- we 'discover' the physics of this impossible world along with the characters and are left to wonder how it was built like they do. My fourth star in the overall rating is for this concept alone. The drama leaves a little to be desired. There are a couple far-fetched plot points (the Puppeteers breeding program) and more than a few times when the dialogue feels stilted. It was definitely written to be read, not heard. Some of the book feels like antiquated science fiction and we can imagine that the same novel written today would look a lot more like Alastair Reynolds, for instance. But it's still a major work in the canon, and should be read by all science fiction fans. The audiobook reader is okay, but could be better.
This book is essentially an updated version of Italio Calvnio's "If On A Winter's Night A Traveler." It nestles several stories into one another, stopping each halfway through and only picking them back up after perspective on each story has been added from the first half of the other tales. The readers are fantastic. Listen to it just for them. In addition, it's a pretty intriguing story. It is a challenge to the listening because of many proper nouns and made-up names in the more futuristic parts (it spans distant past to far future in terms of setting). But it is well-worth it. Highly recommended for people who like stories that move through big chunks of time, lovers of science fiction or light science fiction, and lovers of mystery.
It's already a favorite among avid readers, and the novel is just as great as it was when it made its posthumous debut in the early 80s... but the Narrator Barrett Whitener takes the novel above and beyond the printed word with his tone and dialect. It is absolutely splendid. I find myself wandering around repeating character's expressions and exclamations just to hear the delightful sound of the words that Mr. Whitener has infused in them. Listen to this next.
Although Gladwell has been taken to task for over simplifying things, Outliers is still intriguing because it gives you a glimpse of processes that happen invisibly in our daily lives. It will also make you count up how many hours you've been practicing certain things and maybe decide whether it's worth it to continue... Gladwell reads his own book well. Listen if you enjoy learning about all those little things you may have once wondered about successful people but never had the time to go find out yourself.
Hard to say more than what's been said about this enormously successful book and series, and now two different film adaptations. I was not sold on it though, until halfway through, when I was hooked not by the turns of the mystery, but by the eventual first-meeting of two well-drawn characters who seem entirely alone, yet are actually kind of perfect for one another. Thus the characters turn what would otherwise be a "good" mystery book, into a great one. The reader gets all of the pronunciations right and was a good choice for this novel.
Franzen does a great job of painting a portrait of a modern family. They're not really so likeable, yet at the same time you will find yourself wanting to know what happens to them. And you'll see part of yourself in them -- that's the writer's gift. The reader is excellent at infusing meaning and inflection in the words, and the turns of phrase Franzen comes up with are regularly entertaining and evocative.
The story itself has an intriguing premise but the author is not up to the task. The writing is stilted and simplistic. The characterizations sometimes feel like the fantasy novel they should be, and other times read like they are from a pulp-romance novel. The story veers from its most intriguing set-up: a condemned prisoner getting the job of food-taster because it doesn't matter if they die from poison... and then branches out unnecessarily into magic and other elements that the writer doesn't have a feel for. Sophomoric is the word that comes to mind. The reader doesn't help -- she is corny, "acting" every moment, and it comes off like bad regional theater.
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