Normally I hail Scott Brick as an incredible audio book performer, but he read this book as if he just needed a paycheck. (Try "The Company" to hear him do his best work.) Perhaps Brick didn't try his best because this book is not particularly a good one.
This is a book to listen to in the car on the way to someplace interesting. In other words, it's junk food for the brain. The author posits some interesting ideas, but the characters are two dimensional, and the plot itself is rather predictable. If you only get one credit a month, don't waste it on "The Traveler".
I listened to this book after finishing "Acacia" by David Anthony Durham, a riveting 29 hour novel with an excellent narrator and vivid characters, so perhaps that colors my opinion. If you only get one credit a month, then THAT book is certainly worth it! Or, if you have two credits, try "The Company: A Novel of the CIA" by Robert Littell. It gives you 40 hours of espionage at its best.
Those two recommendations require a bit of a commitment time-wise; if you just want to be mildly entertained for a few hours, then go ahead and spend/waste a credit on "The Traveler": there certainly are worse books than this one out there.
If you like the timing and pace to David Sederis's readings, you will like Raul Esparza. If you like to listen to "This American Life," you will like Raul Esparza. If you enjoy Stephen King's silly points (as in all his novels), Raul Esparza does a great job making them funnier. He is not the best narrator out there. He certainly needs to work on his accents. However, those things are excusable for his ability to properly voice all the lighter parts of King's books, and with perfect delivery, heave us outside of the horror.
Unrelenting horror, without humor or perspective is not enjoyable.
I started to listen to this book at bedtime. I woke my husband up before dawn, quivering with laughter over the conversation the fundamentalist preacher has with God.
What I liked the most about this book was the way it sparked conversations about morality, environmentalism, responsibility, religion, military pragmatism, and politics in my home. My husband was always ready for a new discussion or debate when I set aside my headphones and said, "You wanna hear what just happened in Chester's Mill?" (I can't just play the book aloud with a five-year-old around).
If you love living in a small mind, with fundamentalist religion as your beacon of infallibility, and drive a SUV, perhaps another book will be to your liking.
As for the swearing... What does one expect from Stephen King?
This is a book both writers and artists can enjoy. The authenticity of the lives of artists, writers, abusive childhoods, post traumatic stress disorder and depression are vividly written, but with subtle stokes. Taking the everyday joys and horrors of "real" life and adding the elements of magic mixed in with physics (the physics is not overt, but if one has heard of Projection Theory, the book seems to be littered with references) blends into a cohesive whole. The effect is enchanting and satisfies our desire for Truth while clothed in fantasy.
For those above drinking age – sit down with over a gallon of whatever drink you like (preferably watered down as you might poison yourself otherwise), and then drink a shot for every time:
1) A character shivers but “NOT because of the cold” (or ice, or the glacier, or any reference to cold).
2) A character shoots a “darting glance”, “a look that could wither the strongest man”, or any other clich? involving glaring angrily at another person.
3) A character complains about insect bites or scratches.
That is all this book is good for. It also can inspire timid writers to see just how mediocre a writer can be and still get published. I finished it only out of a stubborn desire to get my money’s worth of entertainment. Once I made my peace with its bad writing and read it as a comedy, I was able to finish it. Even the narrator sounds like he doesn’t take the novel seriously. I certainly will never read any more from this writer. And I humbly beg you to not do so either. Unless you are of drinking age and want to get thoroughly drunk with the above mentioned drinking game.
I dare say David Anthony Durham gives George R.R. Martin a run for for his money. Die hard fans of Martin may not believe me, but "Acacia" looks like it may end up a better series of books than Martin's "A Game of Thrones".
Why? Because Acacia's characters have more depth. The "good guys" have deep flaws and the "bad guys" have motivations that are believable and in some cases, justifiable. Readers can empathize with nearly all the characters.
The plot takes risks and turns that surprise and delight. Just when I think the story is going to go in one direction, it goes in the other.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy epics. I enjoyed all 29 hours so much that I've set aside an hour each evening to listening to it with my husband, who loves the genre but doesn't have the the time to devote hours during the day to listen to it.
Spend the credit, spend the time. It's worth it.
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