Charlotte, NC, United States | Member Since 2011
Holy hell. My wife recommended this book to me, in what I can only assume was some cruel practical joke.
I listened for an hour and NOTHING AT ALL had happened.
I'll return to it again because my wife wants me to read it, but for all of you out there who have free will, run for the hills.
I'll update my review if I ever hate myself enough to finish the book.
The authors had a compelling premise here, but spoiled it by imposing a good versus evil showdown on top of what could have been a fascinating moral issue.
The protagonist wakes up in world where everyone is incorporated at birth, and where they own less than a majority of their own stock. Our hero is startled at the perceived lack of liberty that these people have, though it is pointed out to him again and again that this system eliminated poverty and war, creating an overall quality of life that is much better for everyone on average.
If the book had taken time to let the readers explore the pros and cons of this new system, and make up their own minds about it's validity and morality, then this could have been a great book. Instead, we are immediately confronted with a too-evil bad guy who ends up representing all of incorporation (metaphorically and literally). Because he is such an evil jerk, we, as readers, are forced to align ourselves against him, in spite of the fact that his arguments are extremely convincing. We are told what to think instead of letting us make up our own minds.
The writing feels pretty amateurish in that the protagonist is way too smart/prescient at the beginning, though that seems to taper off steeply as the story progresses. There are other places where the writing is half-baked: entire plot lines, which seem vital to the story, are abandoned completely. Also, their is this really contrived will-they/won't-they romance based on a ridiculously unbelievable and artificial taboo. This taboo seems sacrosanct until it is broken, at which point everyone important acts like it is no big deal at all--totally inconsistent.
The authors did paint an interesting picture of future society and technology, which is largely why I've given them 3 stars instead of just 2.
Ultimately I'm left unsatisfied with this book, largely because I was very swayed by the pro-incorporation arguments, and the anti-incorporation argument really boiled down to feelings, rather than any articulated points against it.
The fantasy genre has never appealed much to me, but having fallen in love with the Game of Thrones series, I've been testing the waters with other fantasy novels. This one came highly recommended as a book that was of the same (or better) quality than the George R.R. Martin novels, so I had to try it out.
The first thing I've got to say is that I usually don't mind a really long listen... after all, if it's a good book, the more, the better. But clocking in at 45+ hours... wow... that's a heck of a commitment. I'm happy to say it was totally worth the time.
Some of the negative reviews here have made complaints that the book had no plot and was too focused on character portraits. Hogwash. This book has plenty of plot. Yes, it does unfold slowly, and yes, at times I was impatient for a little more action... but it was never boring, it never felt unnecessarily slow... it was a masterful steady build to a fantastic climax.
The characters in Way of Kings are nuanced and complicated... not as much as the ones in the Martin novels I love so much... at least not yet. In this book good guys are good guys and bad guys are bad guys... mostly. There are some surprises to be had, though, which is great, and certainly there is plenty of time for Sanderson to show us even more depth in future novels.
The thing I love most about this novel is the journey of Kaladin, one of the book's main characters. He is a bit of the "chosen one" type heroes that has become so cliche', but Sanderson spends so much time building Kaladin's story (and backstory) that you're forced to enjoy the character and his journey even if it is a bit unoriginal.
My only complaint about the novel is the opening chapter. Here we are introduced to gods or guardians of some kind that are stuck in some kind of unending cycle of torture, and they abandon some pact or task or something... it's all rather vague and very interesting... but there is absolutely no follow-up in the rest of the novel. I'm not even sure if these characters are alluded to in the many conversations about history and lore in the rest of the book. I'm sure this will be addressed later in the series, but I found it to be a point of frustration.
I certainly recommend this book. It was a lot of fun, and considering that it is the first book in a series, it had a rather satisfying ending... which is good because after 45 hours, you'll feel like you've earned it.
There were a number of extremely creative and intelligent ideas about the future in this tale... but the author failed to make me care about any of the characters. The result is a book with a ton of brains but no heart.
There was some nuance in the plot, but there was nothing in here that made me care about any of the characters. Listening It was like watching a primetime crime drama on CBS.
Look, I know this is blasphemy, but I really can't stand J.R.R. Tolkien's writing. His imagination is unsurpassed, but his execution is poor, and anything but timeless.
Tolkien is unable to capitalize on the drama inherent in his story. It is a miracle that Peter Jackson was able to see the potential in this story and Lord of the Rings and turn them into the exciting, mature epics.
Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' feels undercooked, tame, and frankly, far too cute for the weighty subject matter within. Also, I find Tolkien's frequent forays into song-writing to be annoying and detracting to the narrative.
Also Tolkien's tale has far too many creatures speaking (spiders and birds speak perfect english, apparently). It has too many loose ends (the necromancer? did I fall asleep through the part where he plays any part?) . It has inconsistencies: The One Ring seems to have none of the seductive power that defines it in the Lord of the Rings.
Finally, I'm annoyed by Tolkien's Eagles which are his own personal deus ex machina.
In short: Good idea-- horrible exploration of that idea- terrible execution of that idea.
Skip it and wait for Peter Jackson to bring the story to life.
After Redshirts and Fuzzy Nation, I was really looking forward to another Scalzi/Wheaton audiobook... but now I feel like someone who ate one-to-many handfuls marshmallows. It was delicious, until it wasn't, and now I feel like I never want to see a marshmallow ever again.
The problem for me is that I realized that Scalzi's characters all speak with the same voice. It doesn't help that Wil Wheaton is also literally reading them all in the same voice. Allow me to elaborate:
Scalzi's characters (if they aren't peripheral comic relief) all have a tendency to explain their thoughts in the same precise, snarky, overly-elaborate manner. What's worse, Scalzi's characters' monologues are clearly a crutch for the an author who has no idea how to use subtlety in his writing. He doesn't trust the readers at all, so he insults our intelligence by over-explaining everything to us. It is the classic mistake of TELLING rather than SHOWING.
Scalzi's novels are fun, and his premises are interesting, but Scalzi does all the thinking for you, and never challenges you. It's a meal without substance. It's junk food.
For all of Scalzi's flaws, he does have redeeming qualities. His novels are fun, and they have a sense of humor. I guess this one just had fewer redeeming qualities than the others, which has left me feeling disappointed.
If you've never listened to a Scalzi/Wheaton audiobook, don't let this review turn you off- but I would advise that you listen to Fuzzy Nation instead.
This is a simple, fun story--not a lot of substance, but still professionally constructed.
I am generally impressed by Stephen King's range of subject matter--but even knowing how versatile he is, this book surprised me. Had his name not been on the cover, I never would have guessed that he wrote it.
The ending was satisfying, if somewhat simple... but I consider that a win, as my foremost criticism of King is that often his endings are terrible, and he frequently ruins his stories with finales that aren't worthy of the rest of the story. But, not this time.
My only major criticism of the audiobook is the narration. Pinchot actually did a fine job with most of his voice acting. Unfortunately, whoever was editing his sound levels was grossly incompetent. Pretty much every line of dialog spoken by the antagonist is whispered so softly that is completely inaudible!
It was almost enough to ruin the entire experience... almost.
The author started with an interesting premise, but one which could have no logical solution in the end. Brin wrapped up the book in a hurry and gave us the answers that we were looking for, but it was clear that even he thought they were so lame that they weren't worth exploring.
I've read two Brin novels now, and both of them had the same problem: Brin has clever ideas, but mediocre follow-through.
This book was kind of fun, but it also felt a bit unpolished and immature. It would have made for a fantastic episode of Star Trek or the Twilight Zone, where you can forgive some loose ends for the sake of enjoying the thought experiment. It just didn't have enough meat to justify an entire novel.
I usually hate fantasy books, or anything dealing with magic, but this one came highly recommended so I gave it a try.
I enjoyed the book, and found it to be a fun, easy listen.
I haven't decided yet if I'm going to continue with more in the series... and the fact that I'm not racing to pick up the next book is what's stopping me from rating it more highly. I guess at the end of the day I'm just not sure it was worth as many hours as I dedicated to it... or more accurately, maybe I think it was worth exactly that many hours and no more.
If you get this book, you won't regret the purchase... but you may not fall in love with the series. In other words, I enjoyed the story a lot, but I wasn't left feeling very interested in the world the author created.
This book as been reviewed so many times that I doubt there is anything left unsaid about it. So I'll keep it short and sweet:
The characters are great. The use of technology is fantastic and very accurate. The plot is gripping from beginning to end. I'm glad I read the book before watching the film.
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