Lexington, KY, United States | Member Since 2011
As other reviewers have already stated, Hitchens' narration is at times a bit mumbled. His is not a terrible performance, but Hitchens is no orator. I don't know about other Audible users but I suspect that I am not the only one who enjoys audiobooks in the car. Hitchens' tendency to let his voice trail off at the end of a sentence and otherwise mumble a bit makes it difficult at times to hear everything he says over the road noise. What I ended up doing was cranking up the volume to hear the quieter bits, at the expense of occasionally getting blown away when Hitchens decided to project his voice more powerfully.
That said, I recommend the book heartily! It's definitely worth the effort. I don't agree with everything Hitchens asserts but his book is very intelligent and thought-provoking on the whole. A credit well spent, in my opinion.
This is an interesting book about shifts in policy in the military and the intelligence services involved in the war on terror from about 2001 onwards. (Some of the material actually pre-dates 9/11.) If the subject matter interests you then you will probably find the book to be worth a credit. Shortcomings of the work include the way the author jumps around temporally and the overly-dramatic reading by the narrator.
While not without faults, "The Secret Speech" overall is gripping, moving, and educational and I recommend it enthusiastically to those who liked "Child 44."
Unlike the previous book it is not a mystery but an epic adventure that finds protagonist Leo Demidov on a seemingly hopeless quest that brings to mind the Myth of Sisyphus, the labors of Hercules, and Dante's Inferno. Dennis Boutsikaris again provides great narration, just as he did for "Child 44." If I were level criticism at it, I would say that "The Secret Speech" reached a point that seemed like a natural ending and then went on for several more chapters of what might have formed the basis of a whole separate book.
"14" starts off strong enough but the longer it went on the more glaring its shortcomings became . The author's voice as a writer is just not mature yet. He does not write with anything at all approaching economy, and consequently many scenes drag on and on. The dialogue is dull and predictable and, worse, often serves to detract from the plot or undermine the tone of the story rather than contribute to it. And perhaps worst of all, the tale reaches at a point where it becomes essentially fan fiction of H.P. Lovecraft in that the underlying premise is borrowed directly from Lovecraft rather than anything actually imagined by Clines.
"The Finish." is an informative though not especially exciting account of the Bin Laden raid. Bowden is a more mature writer than the author of "No Easy Day," but if you've read or listened to the latter there isn't much more to be learned from the former.
I didn't like the narration by James Lurie. He comes off like he's over-selling the machismo angle of the whole enterprise or sounding like the narrator from that TV show "City Confidential." And his voice is low and gruff and not easily heard over background noises if you're listening while exercising.
Reserving 1 star for narration so bad it is unlistenable, I give this audio version of "The God Delusion" 2 stars for narration due to the terrible decision to feature two narrators, the author himself and Lalla Ward. What on earth inspired the producers to take the approach of having the two of them share the narration in back and forth style, I don't know, but the style offers much in the way of jarring distraction without anything at all on the positive side.
What saves the book and makes it listenable is that the ideas within are compelling. All in all, an audiobook to listen to despite the narration, which I hated.
Did I mention that I hated the narration?
This is a remarkably well-written book that is a cut above typical detective genre fiction. It is hard to take though, between the graphic depiction of starvation among Russian peasants, the thorough exploration of the oppressiveness of the Soviet system, and the basic plot of a serial killer murdering dozens of children. The audio sample provided by Audible is a good representative excerpt.
The emotion that I most often felt throughout "Child 44" was sadness. Admittedly this is not what I normally feel or want to feel when enjoying a mystery or a thriller, and yet I recommend "Child 44" enthusiastically. The narration by Dennis Boutsikaris is superb. Upon finishing "Child 44," I purchased two other titles by Tom Rob Smith.
Some other listeners clearly enjoyed "Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent" and give it strong reviews, but to me it seemed pretty thin. There is a little but not much in the way of operational detail or in-depth portrayal of the various activities of the DSS. Much of the narrative is just ho-hum. The book hits stride best when recounting the investigation into the airplane crash that killed President Zia of Pakistan in 1988. Much of the rest of the book in my opinion offers a superficial glance into the work of DSS officers, and it is somewhat repetitive at that.
I thought that narrator Tom Weiner overdid the "drama" in his reading. His is not an unbearable performance but I can't say I'll seek out his work in future audiobook performances.
I enjoyed roughly the first half of The Quiller Memorandum immensely. It's set in Berlin during the mid 1960s, a setting ripe with intrigue, and it gets off to a fast start. But about half way through the story, an element of overdone psychoanalysis intrudes on the narrative and it just goes on and on until you begin to wonder which word applies best, tiresome or wearisome. (I say wearisome is worse than tiresome, and thus is the better choice.)
The performance by Simon Prebble is top notch.
The two fundamental problems with 1Q84 are that the story itself is way too slow, and the narrators are too low-key and monotonous in their delivery. I can handle long works of fiction, but something notable has to be happening in the plot at some sort of reasonable pace. After the first 6+ hour section of 1Q84 I felt like we had hardly gotten past the exposition. If information can be described as any difference that makes a difference, I'd have to say that 1Q84 is full of noise: details that don't seem to make any difference. Much of the plot involves people meeting and having conversations. Yes, people can make important ethical decisions and life choices in, say, a meeting between a writer and an editor, but I do not reach for an audiobook to fill my lengthy morning commute with a multitude of meetings between a writer and an editor. I have boring meetings in my own life, thank you very much, and would like to be transported to something different. The book even manages to make a murder and sex scenes boring. Everything unfolds like one of those slow-motion films of a bullet passing through an apple or a playing card. I like watching film clips like that on YouTube as much as the next guy, but I don't want to do that for 46 hours.
It's not that literally nothing occurs in 1Q84, but by the end of the first track I was more of the frame of mind that the book had imposed on my life for 6+ hours rather than enchanted me and enriched my life for the same period. Upon reaching the the end of this section on my iPod, I decided to enjoy some music on my commute before proceeding to the next track, and at that point I just never felt like going back to the novel. Each time I contemplated resuming 1Q84, it seemed more like a chore to keep putting off, rather than some wonderful fictional universe that I was eager to return to.
And then there are the audio performances. Despite the book having multiple narrators, the emotional tone of the ensemble performance is one note. There is little in the way of rise and fall in the emotion or the tempo. Imagine listening to Pachelbel's Canon over and over, day after day, and you get the idea.
I'd recommend this especially to someone interested in journalism or the history of journalism, as opposed to somebody interested in mysteries or crime stories.
I think the book dragged in places and could have been edited down to be more concise.
My expectation was that The Murder of the Century would be akin to a real life version of Caleb Carr's "Alienist." i.e. Unusual murder case in late 19th Century NYC. There is an element of that, but the suspect is brought to trial before the book is halfway through, and so more than half the book is devoted to the courtroom drama, with particular emphasis on how it was reported in the press, the rivalries between newspapers and their publishers, and the major personalities of the leading newspapermen (Pulitzer and Hearst especially).
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