I love Anderson, and the premise is great, but this book is just awful. This book has none of the standard fiction elements like tension, conflict, character development, and so on. Instead it's one of those scifi books where the author had an idea and then just uses fiction to tell us about what he thinks about it. (Characters sit around and expound their philosophies to each other, etc.) Also, at times the book seems to be premised on the odd idea that anyone who does manual labor for a living must not be very intelligent, and that intelligent people would refuse to do that sort of work. That's factually incorrect (didn't Anderson know that large numbers of people work for money?) and on the verge of being offensive.
Labored, often cliche, and completely implausible. The book is so overwritten that you can space out from time to time and not miss anything. The lead female character is incredibly annoying -- you would hate her if you had to have dinner with her -- and the book often creates tension by using the cheap trick of withholding information from readers with the hope that they'll keep going just to find out what they haven't been told. Despite these and many other flaws, the central idea is intriguing enough that you can stick with the book and be mildly entertained.
I listened for two hours, but this was just plain boring and I couldn't finish it.
I was pleasantly surprised by how good a writer Ian Fleming was. The first half of the book is very good. Among other things, James Bond is different from the James Bond of the movies, and that makes for added interest. The second half of the book is not bad, but odd. Fleming sets things up for a final twist, like most thriller writers, but readers will see the twist coming a mile away. Worse yet, you have to wonder why Bond doesn't see it coming. Despite that problem, this is a solid read.
I'm a huge fan of Ricky Gervais's shows and stand-up. Since the "Guide to..." series has 4+ stars on Audible, I was sure I'd like it. Unfortunately, it's really disappointing. One problem is that there just aren't that many funny moments compared to the length of the recordings. A bigger problem is that it's mean spirited. The recordings are conversations between Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Karl Pilkington. When Pilkington says something weird or dumb, Gervais and Merchant don't just needle him good-naturedly about it. Instead they say really rude things. The recordings are like listening to two guys tell another guy "you're stupid" and "you're an idiot" over and over. A third problem is that, even though Pilkington sometimes says bizarre things, a lot of what he says isn't a dumb as Gervais and Merchant say it is. Instead they come off like two school bullies who are determined to pick on the little guy no matter what. An example: on the "Medicine" recording, when Gervais and his crew are having a discussion about sci-fi medical techniques, Pilkington says it would be nice to have a device that would allow doctors to experience their patients' feelings. Gervais asks why. Quite sensibly, Pilkington says that sometimes people get used to their aches and pains and don't report these as symptoms of a problem, even though the doctors should know about them. Gervais and Merchant can't seem to grasp this simple point. Instead they start doing their bully act, just saying over and over that Pilkington is stupid.
Since my review is just one among many, and since the series has 4+ stars, the Gervais fans will probably download this anyway. At the very least, I suggest buying only one of the series at a time. You can listen to it and make sure it doesn't repulse you the way it repulsed me.
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