Andrea Camilleri's Montalbano isn't my absolute fave Italian (well, he's Sicilian) cop series --I prefer David Hewson's Nic Costa (who, yay! has a new one out). However, the books are good enough I keep coming back. Part has to do w/Grover Gardner's narrations; I think he's the best reader there is. Montalbano is billed as having a dry sense of humor, but sometimes he just comes off as a jerk --maybe it's the translation? Still, they're worth listening to. *sorta spoiler alert* He gained some depth in this one by finally taking his rather inexplicable relationship with Olivia a bit further....tho not til the end of the book, & we don't see how things work out.
I've been trying, on & off for several weeks & consistently for the last 2 days, to listen to this brief audiobook. I haven't read anything else by the author & on the basis of this am not likely to do so.
The reader, David Colacci, isn't my favorite but he's not awful; to my mind there are 2 main categories of 'good' readers: those who do a straightforward job of simply reading, an audio version of a print book. Then there are those who perform it, who make it come to life to the extent that it actually may be better than just reading it (something VERY rare); some examples of this are Martin Jarvis's rendition of Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett's "Good Omens," Oliver Wyman delivering all 4 of the "Monster Hunter International" books (may there be another VERY SOON) by Larry Correia, and Susan Bennett's performance of "You Suck" by Christopher Moore.
David Colacci falls into the first category; he reads smoothly, with good pacing & emphasis, and you can tell which character is which --though without cues by the author you'd be lost most of the time. With the performances above, you know exactly who's who at all times because each character has his/her own voice, & the voice IS the character*.
So it's not the reader's fault that I started the book 5 or 6 times & kept re-starting because the book was so uninteresting that my attention would just wander off. Eventually I just powered on & kept going. It stayed boring. Oh, there were occasional flashes of interestingness, & then there was one plot point that was just mindboggling & appalling, of which which I suppose I'll express my outrage in a moment, as it could be taken as a spoiler.
i'm not sure I can offer a lot to bolster my contention that it's boring; the characters on the generation ship repeatedly blaming their captain for their problems was aggravating but ultimately believable if one has a suitably low opinion of people. Otherwise, the characters were flat, unengaging. I never was able to get much of an image of the aliens, tho whether that's due to my missing details or lack of description on the author's part I'm not sure. I just could not get involved in the book.
*In Martin Jarvis's very entertaining biography, he tells of going to work at a radio program that he'd listened to for a long time & being astonished when the actor who plays one particular part walking in wearing jeans; he'd never imagined that character in anything but a suit. As he put it perfectly, "the voice was wearing the suit." That's how you know a performance is good; when it gives you a vivid portrait of a character in your mind, & the portrait is so clear, so PERFECT, that nothing else will work & if any other reader were to do it, it'd sound just wrong.
ok, here 'tis: *SPOILER ALERT*
*SPOILER ALERT!!* *SPOILER ALERT!!* *SPOILER ALERT!!*
the appalling incident with the double standard was the captain sentencing the mutineer to multiple, repeated gang rapes by the female aliens. If we reverse genders in the situation, I would think there'd be enormous outrage. Let us say there was a male captain, and a woman was one of the ring-leaders of a mob which imprisoned him & threatened to kill him. The captain eventually regains his post. A while afterward, he rounds up a couple of big, burly alien males and tells them to forcibly rape the woman & keep raping her until she gets pregnant.
Does anyone else have a problem with that? I'll never be accused of being a rabid feminist but that sounds quite horrible to me & I'd be fairly outraged if I read it in a work of fiction. I suppose it could be viewed as the first in a series of episodes which show us how truly alien & awful the aliens are, but still think it would garner much outrage if published that way.
Just wrong, wronger, wrongest either way, but I felt like I was supposed to be okay with it, view as just another plot point, because of the gender distribution.
Phil Gigante give his usual excellent reading, but he's not enough to really save this one. And truth to tell, I can't remember what Ms Ross's reading was like, tho it hasn't been that long since I listened; must not have been too memorable, neither too awful nor wonderful.
Which sorta describes the book: It's not egregiously bad, but isn't all that good, either. It's billed as an erotic thriller, but I didn't find it particularly erotic or very thrilling (neither in a sensual sense nor an 'edge of your seat' sense). It's sort of....silly. The characters aren't completely cardboard, nor do they feel straight out of a can ("tough detective, white, youngish middle-aged, one"). On the other hand, they're not particularly rich or believable. The dialogue sort of sounds like actual people are talking, most of the time.
I find I am completely incapable of coming up with any extreme descriptions or adjectives; it's just kind of...aggressively average. Not a bad time-user for commutes or such, if bought at a discount, but I think paying full price rather chafes a bit.
When I got to the place where you choose stars for "story," my mind immediately asked "What story? It's a just idea." And it's a good idea for a story; too bad Sanderson didn't do anything with it.
I'm just over an hour into the book & absolutely nothing has happened other than the guy, his hallucinations, & 1-2 other real people talking. And talking. And talking some more. And then discussing the conversation. I'm not sure exactly how many other real people there are because I've zoned out a few times & quit going back to try & re-listen a while ago. It's not even interesting enough to put me to sleep; if I'm not a LITTLE interested, my brain just wanders away from the audiobook & goes back to the stresses of life. Usually I'll manage to hold out longer than an hour, but with this shortie, that's half way & I cannot keep even a portion of my mind on it.
If you're into people talking with nothing else going on, maybe you'll like this book. I dunno; I usually have a fairly high tolerance, but this isn't even interesting talking.
Oliver Wyman does a good job reading this transcript but not even a great reader like him can make this gabfest a winner. I think (I HOPE!) it was on sale when I got it, because whatever I paid for it I wasted.
I say "3/4 of an outstanding series" because I thought the 3rd book stunk. But this one definitely does not; this is an incredibly good audiobook, combining an excellent, exciting, extremely creative book with the kind of performance that elevates mere reading into life; each character has a distinct, believable voice, and the pacing and emphasis are as perfect as human endeavors get.
Larry Correia manages to roll out a fairly large cast of characters without being confusing or leaving the reader constantly thinking, "Now wait, who's this guy?" The main character, Owen Z Pitt, finds out the hard way that monsters are real, that werewolves really do exist. He goes on to discover that there's a whole business of monster hunting, and his upbringing turns out to have been perfect for him to excel as a monster hunter.
The characters are fairly complex for an action/thriller/monster book and they sound like real people talking. The monsters are seriously monstrous, a mix of the familiar (vampires, werewolves) and some brand new doozies right out of Correia's subconscious --I'd hate to do a ride-along in one of his nightmares!
This & the second & fourth of the MHI books are just great, fun, stick-to-the-earbuds books that beg to be described as "rollicking," if the word was still used (#3, I fear, was just boring, though still well-read). Misters Correia & Wyman together have created great examples of how audiobooks CAN be, but all too often aren't. They make a high bar, though, and are a real treat for the listener!
I've been a fan of Westlake's Dortmunder books forever, and I think Oliver Wyman is an outstanding reader, so I went into this book with nothing but good expectations. What I came out of it with is...confusion & some disappointment. I knew Fred Fitch wasn't John Archibald Dortmunder, but at the beginning of the book he seems like John's spiritual cousin; another mild, likeable but sad sack, this guy on the receiving end of crime instead of the committing end. He's a mark for the Universe, a gullible sucker for any con man that comes within a mile of him. He falls for cons all the time & con men seem to smell it and practically line up at his door. And he always opens the door for them.
The book starts out reminiscent of Dortmunder in another way; it's quite funny & lighthearted and even if Fred is getting ripped of every time he turns around, it's not mean-spirited, and they're small amounts of money that don't leave you concerned that he's going to get tossed out into the street. Fifteen dollars was certainly worth more when the book is set than it does now, but Fred isn't facing financial ruin so we can laugh at his gullibility and misfortune without feeling mean.
But then Fred inherits over $300,000 from an uncle he didn't know existed (which he initially thinks is another con) and the book gradually turns darker. Some people get dead, and while it's not gory at all, there's fewer yucks when there's real corpses sitting around...tho heaven knows, as a lifelong fan of horror & murder mysteries, I'm not bothered by corpses per se. I guess what got me was the deterioration of Fred's character; he starts out knowing he's a gullible yutz and he has a sense of humor about it, a sort of amused exasperation at himself (which is shared by his friend Riley of the Bunco Squad...they've interacted so many times over the years that they've become fast friends, which is pretty funny in itself).
But Fred really gets bitter and loses his sense of humor entirely as the book progresses. Not to say I blame him, really --it seems somebody is trying to kill him, & various strange & deadly things are happening around him because of the money-- but the book just wasn't funny in the second half, maybe started turning grim about 1/3 of the way through.
If you've never read Westlake, I'd very strongly recommend not starting here; try any of the Dortmunder books (with the mammoth exception of the “Drowned Hopes” audiobook read by Arte Johnson; it is beyond hideous, past unlistenable, is so bad that all associated with it should be imprisoned). The first Dortmunder book, “The Hot Rock,” is terrific. So are the others…”Bank Shot,” “The Road to Ruin,” etc. They’re also well read, as is this one.
I don't know what happened with this, the 3rd book of the MHI series --"Alpha" is simply Omega. It is dull, boring, bland. If the other 3 books are spicy 12-course International dinners (& they are), this one is a bologna sandwich on white bread. Stale white bread.
This MH lacks most of what made the others great; fascinating & varied cast of monsters & monster hunters in interesting settings. This book focuses solely on Earl, and he spends the entire book in a tiny northern town. He fights a coupla guys, a coupla critters. One of the apocalyptic fight scenes is Earl vs a Russian guy...2 old white guys brawling in a grocery store. "Earl throws canned corn!" is actually one of the big moments in the scene. Sheesh. Compared to the incredible battle in the other dimension at the end of book 2, with a number of different monsters, human-creatures, lycanthropes, demons, a humongous evil alien sort of insect/tree hybrid thing, etc, two old dudes in the vegetable aisle simply does not cut it.
There are a large number of 5/5 star votes for this one on Amazon; the only thing I can figure is that people were just so carried away by how great the first two books are that they can't bring themselves to harshly criticize the author for this clunker. George RR Martin has a similar thing going on with his series that begins with "Game of Thrones;" the 1st 3 are amazing, then the series goes completely down the commode. Quite a few people tie themselves in knots in their reviews, trying not to say "these books are nowhere near as good as the first ones!" A few brave souls come out & say "these stink!"
But Larry Correia has done one better than George; he pulled the plane out of the flat spin of #3, & the 4th book (Legion) is another winner. But those who loved 1 & 2 could well give this one a miss & go straight to Legion and not miss much of anything at all....except boredom & some wasted money. There are 2 characters introduced in "Alpha" that appear in "Legion," but Correia fills things in well enough that anyone who skipped 3 wouldn't be lost at all. And okay, the robo-skin-walker things are sorta creepy, but not nearly enough to salvage this yawner. This book smells strongly of a decent idea for a short story that got turned into a novel...with all the defects, lacks, and rip-offs that implies.
If someone suggested to Wil Mara that he read his own book, he might consider examining the relationship; I’d say the person was not thinking in Mara’s best interests. His reading comes perilously close to a monotone, sounding very much like a lawyer that has been hired (not at premium rates) to read out a lengthy legal paper that consists largely of an inventory, plus some narrative bits.
Because that is what this book ends up sounding like due to Mara’s reading; an inventory with a few narrative parts. His bland reading makes the most horrific descriptions --and he’s got some doozies-- come out about as spine-chilling as listening to someone reading the dec page of an insurance policy. His characters don’t have any really distinctive voices, either. His reading isn’t egregiously awful, just….underwhelming. Bland.
That’s a problem with the book as well; the story is told rather than shown, going against that basic creative writing dictum of “show, don’t tell.” There’s a reason creative writing teachers hammer on that concept, and that is that it’s a lot more interesting to be “in the moment,” as it were, to go along with the characters as they experience the story, rather than just have the occurrences listed out.
The characters aren’t particularly fleshed out or 3-dimensional, and have all the vivid life of comic book characters after a trip through the washer; pale ghosts in a fog.
I think the book could be at least somewhat satisfying as an end-of-the-world-by-gruesome-disease horror work, if you read it yourself, or if someone else read it…somebody good at reading.
I had a hard time deciding stars on this one; it's not aggressively bad, neither the book nor the performance. It's not really a strongly negative experience (like some I have run across), just....not good. Blah. "Meh."
I'm not going to deal with the plot. It's too painful. Let's talk characters instead. Every character in this book suffers a truly massive case of HCSS (Horror Character Stupid Syndrome); the book is a textbook example of Roger Ebert’s "Idiot Plot" (defined as any plot containing problems which would be solved instantly if all of the characters were not idiots).
Case in point: all through the book, characters have watched a number of friends/colleagues get sliced, diced, & devoured by the Giant Primordial Squid. The GPS suckers (ha!) in the victims by using its Dead Friend Decoys, which it creates using tentacles which have the ability to swell up into lookalikes of the people it’s eaten. Near the end, one character had to be left behind for a while, all alone in the dark with the monster, pretty much guaranteed to get eaten. The gang eventually goes back into the cave & they see the stranded woman standing in the dimness, blank-faced, mute, animated as a stuffed moose, looking exactly like a brainless fake. Does the gang say “Oh no, she got eaten, it’s a decoy! Run away!” Do they hell: “Gasp! She’s alive!” And two of them run to her and give her a big hug. Slurp! I don’t consider this a spoiler because my turtle could see this coming and was not surprised.
The characters are so two-dimensional they’re not even good stereotypes. We have:
The Super Soldier who, through no fault of his own, has been transformed into Something Beyond Human, so of course no one could possibly love him and he’ll never get to know love again, like he had with She Who Had to Be Left Behind. Does he find love with the Super Smart Scientist Girl (who can somehow see past his cool exterior to the warm yet damaged, hidden heart within)? No points for guessing correctly.
The Evil, Greedy Yet Banal Scientist: For anyone old enough (or unlucky enough in reruns) to see the original “Lost in Space” TV series, this guy is more obnoxious & fingernails-on-chalkboard irritating than Dr Smith. What’s even harder to believe is the response of the other characters to this guy: he’s sneeringly condescending, insulting, nagging, nit-picking, tantrum-throwing, sexual-pass-oozing, & power-tripping throughout the book. He repeatedly insists upon moving the whole bunch ever-deeper into the cave so that they end up serving themselves as sequential meal courses for the monster, in order to demonstrate his ‘revolutionary’ machine and make mega-bucks for himself. But everyone treats him with incredible patience and forbearance; nobody even snaps at the guy, making then all immediate candidates for sainthood in my book.
The Super Smart Scientist Girl:
…I can’t go on. You can fill in the blanks.
The science in this book is beyond ridiculous. I know it’s fiction so the author gets to make stuff up. I discovered –and have loved-- science fiction since I was 9. But these compressed-air-bullet weapons are real doozies. Not solid projectiles powered by air. These guns fire adjustable-sized….wads…of compressed air that shoot through ambient air (without dissipating) & impact things just like bullets. As if you could call forth your inner mime & pretend to make a snowball, pack it down tight, throw your pretend-air ball at a window & watch the shards fly! Just like that, only at bullet speeds. Sorry, not even my disbelief suspension mechanism is up to that.
(Well, just goes to show how little I know. There is an actual picture of a biological version of this weapon, Shukaku expelling an air bullet, at the Naruto wiki, under Drilling Air Bullet Harbour Blow. The technique is explained quite simply, under Drilling Air Bullet. It's so obvious --the amount of chakra makes them powerful-- I'm surprised I didn't think of it.)
The size of the monster is another issue: it’s variously compared to a blue whale (90-100 ft) and a 747 (184- 250 feet, depending on the model) sized. Apparently not even the author knows out how big the thing is.
Small peeve; (but really, the book is so bad it begs griping at minutiae): the reader pronounces “debris” as “DEB-ree” which would be irritating enough, but evidently it’s the author’s favorite word. It was used more than 14 times in a little over 2 hours. When I start counting things, I KNOW an audiobook is irretrievably awful.
A much, much better biological SF/thriller is “Fragment,” by Warren Fahy it’s got better science AND is more exciting, has better characters, writing, etc. Better read, too. There are times in “Fragment” when the scientific explanations may be somewhat overwhelming to the non-scientist, but even if you zone out in those small spots the book is a decent page-turner and, at times, a lot of fun.
Step away from "Beneath the Dark Ice" and put down your wallet. You will regret the lost money and time.
Is there a prize for the Highest Number & Most Variety Uses of The F-word? I hope so, because this author appears to be going for it. I’ve never before heard it used as subject, verb, object, adjective, adverb, gerund, pronoun, preposition, noun, conjunction, interjection, & other ways I don’t even have names for. And while I don’t really object to the use of the F-word, at some point it becomes downright tedious & I start to feel that the author is lacking in imagination, especially when more than one character can’t get through 2 consecutive sentences without using it at least once.
Add to this the fact that Scott Brick may not have been the ideal choice for reader. I’ve heard Brick do a number of books & consider him to be okay. On many of them his rather monotone delivery works by rendering him just sort of out of the way, as in the Pendergast books (by Preston & Childs). On "Already Dead" one it sounded as if he was trying wayyy too hard to be a “tough noir-ish” narrator, & he sounded like a caricature.
The overall plot was….I’ll give it a “meh.” The idea that vampires & such are just a part of everyday life is no longer new by any means, & nothing really stood out to make this book shine; Mickey Spillane Meets Dracula, done not particularly well. There was one spot that stood out as being fantastically irritating; about 4/5 of the way through, Our Hero is in dire straits & proceeds to give himself a mental Reader's Digest re-run of the entire plot to date. This took several minutes of reading time & by the time Brick was finished I had used the F-word a coupla times myself.
I won’t be getting any other books by this author & I regret having spent money & time on this one.
It's been many, many years since I read a Patterson novel; I thought I remembered them as being pretty good. Apparently I've been confusing them with the movie "Kiss the Girls," which was maybe also mediocre but I like Morgan Freeman & Ashley Judd so much (especially together) that it seemed better than it was.
So, after a long hiatus, my reaction to his 1st book is, I'm really glad I didn't get the 2nd one, too. The writing was amateurish, the characters walking cliches who came out with excruciatingly trite/sappy/totally unreal, and utterly idiotic lines throughout. Nobody in history has ever talked the way the people in this book talk. The plot was so memorable that I had to go read the synopsis because I couldn't remember it (I finished the book last night). The whole thing suffers badly from what Roger Ebert calls The Idiot Plot, defined as "Any plot containing problems which would be solved instantly if all of the characters were not idiots.*"
Then there's the scene where Alex's theory that there's a serial killer is finally confirmed (everybody else was in denial). So he's believed at last and has backing and a task force and....he goes on vacation for a week. Say what?! That's not really an idiot element...I don't know what the heck to call it, except maybe "time for Alex to get a new job."
Much as I hate to say it, MIchael Kramer didn't add to the experience. He has a pleasant voice and minimalist, nearly deadpan delivery which works very well with Donald E Westlake's Dortmunder books (which are the only other things I've heard him read, & which I really enjoyed --book & reader). Unfortunately it doesn't work too well with this. Also, there was a character or two in Bermuda, and his attempt at a Bermooth accent was painful. I wouldn't expect much of anybody to know what a Bermudian accent sounded like if I didn't have some friends from there & had visited, but even a decent English-type accent would've been fine. Perhaps it was supposed to be English....? I dunno, but it was bad.
Two thumbs down.
*from "Ebert's Little Movie Glossary," 1994, p 52
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.