At first I disliked the flat narration of the main character. Later on I saw what the narrator was attempting to do. So, if you like the story but find the narration lackluster, just keep with it. It took me a bit to realize that this book seems to be an attempt at homage to The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Not great, not horrible. A middle of the road suspense/ghost story.
If you like Bill Bryson, you will like this offering, as well. Bryson brings attention and life to glossed-over ( or never-mentioned ) aspects of history. I found it difficult to stop listening to this entertaining and fascinating ( and sometimes wonderfull icky -see chapter 11) ) book.
The structure of the book was not as I expected, being less tightly anchored to the room-by-room history adventure I anticipated from the publisher's summary. But if you are not too picky about tight structure, and don't mind ~occasionally~ not having the threads of the narrative tied together a bit more, then you will enjoy this wandering trip through some of the foundations (no pun intended) of why our homes ended up designed and built the way they are. If you are familiar with and like the old PBS television series, Connections, you are probably someone who will devour this book.
Bryson continues to introduce us to a trove of people in history who deserve credit ( both good and bad ) for the contributions and sacrifices they made to engineering and invention that lead us, sometimes circuitously, to many of the comforts of home we take for granted today. You can expect to hear more about the men and women who deserve more credit than most historical writings give them, and we learn of many poor individuals who were left penniless and forgotten in spite of their immense contributions. Bryson's research and distillation of information makes history , even that previously considered mundane, richly interesting. His talent makes history more relevant and real than any other history book you read in school. We are not just told who invented what, but are treated to tidbits of fascinating information about the private lives of these individuals, which makes the stories even more inviting and memorable.
Get ready to find out why most early homes didn't have second stories, why dining forks have 4 tines, where the word "boardroom" comes from, and how a bizarre experiment gave us strong steel.
If Bryson decides to keep writing on this topic, I will definitely keep reading. There are many more items in the home that need a delightful back-story brought to life . Yay for Bryson!!
I want to say "ditto" to all the other positive reviews of this book: definitely creepy, atmospheric and adrenaline-pumping. I am still kind of bouncing around after just finishing this book ( which I could not stop listening to until I finished it early this morning.)
This author has done a magnificent job of making the reader wonder what the heck is going on. At one point he describes a figure that is pursuing the protagonist, and with an economy of descriptors which makes the object even more unsettling, Crouch made my heart stop. You are really THERE with the protagonist, caught up in his struggle, and then you see what he sees...hmmm, something is not quite right with that figure....and then....wait for it... WTF?! ( Haha! Loved it! So awesome...)
Just to be helpful, here are a couple notes others have touched on, as well, that some readers may want to know about before deciding to purchase.
1) There is a recurring torture scene in this story. It adds tension, and I believe it may be included to act as a red herring and also to help explain some of the other characters' actions toward the protagonist. But torture makes me squeamish and I want to warn others. I will say that Crouch manages to get the creepiness across without being overly graphic.
2) I am left wondering, a bit, about some of the uber-violent behavior of the townspeople, en masse, when they seem otherwise normally benign and confused, themselves. Although, this is somewhat elaborated on at the end, and maybe there is a better reason for it than I can currently see.
Many stories start with a mystery for the protagonist to slowly unravel, but few can explain themselves well in the end. This author manages to do it. I did NOT find myself let down after all the titillating clues got my hopes up; I could "buy in" to the ending.
This book has elements of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and several other recognizable movie and book classics - but if I name them, it might be too spoiler-ish! (But I would love to list them so you could get an idea of the flavor and scope of the book.)
This was my first exposure to Crouch, and I will definitely buy another book from this author.
I hate to insult the narrator - who reads aloud nicely - but I think this story would sound better read by someone who can add energy to an action novel. No disrespect intended, honestly, but this story's execution is fairly weak, and suffers so much more from the lackluster narration. IMHO the listening experience is exactly like hearing your grandpa read aloud to you. The rare action scenes are almost entirely softened and flattened by the friendly, folksy reading.
The naive, Mayberry-esque characters are also a distraction from what could be a solid story. The writing seems oriented to an audience who knows little of geology or dinosaurs. Give the characters some edge, remove the "character development" which feels like filler written by a 12-year-old, add more science, and you could have a fun short story. As it is, Dinosaur Lake is a long-lost episode of The Andy Griffith Show: the one where they find a big monster in the mud pond, a "woman reporter" gets eaten alive - and haha - it's no big deal. No need to involve anyone besides Andy and Barney Fife. They can handle it.
Fascinating and creepy - I couldn't stop listening. The author does a great job of introducing the average person to this type of individual, and she seems to do so without prejudice or overblown dramatics. She explores the question of what benefits could be gained, in terms of evolution, of having a conscience, and not having a conscience. She clearly and deftly defines, in historical and scientific context, what conscience is. She uses case studies and plenty of examples to illustrate concepts, and even provides some invaluable information designed to help recognize sociopaths - but it's not easy. Imagine getting sabotaged at work, bringing a complaint to your boss, and no one believing you, or worse, blaming you. Even if you prefer fiction, you will find this book captures your attention, especially if you like thrillers and mysteries.
I was delightfully entertained by the first two books in the series (despite some nagging vocabulary and pronunciation errors) and was eagerly awaiting the third. The author decided to completely change his style from journal to omniscient 3rd person. The story now does not follow any one person, but jumps from character to character. The former, journal style made this series stand out from the rest. Now it reads like a mediocre, overly macho, try-hard action comic. The story was once very promisimg. This 3rd installment is a dud.
Hard-core horror fans may not be enamoured with this story, as the fear slowly simmers without really boiling over. Just enough detail to imply horror, and lots of beautifully written tension. The placement of this story post-WW2 aids several plot points and adds to the feeling of displacement, or disorientation, the reader may experience. The main character is nicely developed and likeable. His story is told in an intimate, journal style. The book takes it's time getting to the "creepy parts," but the quiet, moodiness of the writing, and the character development is, in it's own way, suspenseful. Possibly not the most thrilling ending, but really, the story wraps up nicely and the denoument is quite satisfying. Definitely a mood piece. And...WOW, the narration is INCREDIBLE!!!
Exasperated sighs, pensive sighs, sighs of fatigue, fatalistic sighs, pauses filled with sighs, sighs of martyrdom, sighs before starting a sentence, sighs after a sentence, inhalation sighs.....this narrator SIGHS constantly and makes the character and story difficult to enjoy.
Mild warning for women who like sci-fi: you're likely already used to bizarre and unrealistic depictions of women, however, this author has a puerile view of the female sex that can make you want to stop listening due to disgust. It is not possible to only blame the time in which this book was written...
Please give us the intervening books in the series! Love them!
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.