I've never read a Neil Gaiman book in print; 'Anansi Boys' was the first I listened to & thought it was absolutely terrific, both book & reading by Lenny Henry. Then I got
everything; writing & narration were superb.
not yet, but I want to
Yes...& immediately start right over again.
My #1 favorite audiobook out of the several thousand I have listened to.
I first read "Riverworld" in the 70s, & I remember enjoying it. I didn't enjoy it enough to get all 3 books, though...& after listening to this dog, I wish I'd kept it that way.
We do get (sort of) the main characters from the first 2 books together, which was nice; I missed Burton & his bunch in #2. But for some reason, Farmer decided to intro a brand new main character & couldn't have come up with a more annoying person if he'd studied for years. Jill is one of the more obnoxious characters to appear in fiction in a long time. She's constantly, aggressively on the defensive, knows everybody is out to get her & deny her genius & incredible capabilities, & --best of all-- she has the amazing ability to take ONE LOOK at anyone, determine their gender, race, & time of origin, & immediately she knows EXACTLY what that person thinks about her, about women, & precisely how badly they're going to treat her. And then she condemns them for their egregious bigotry. Um, hypocrite much? She even periodically tells herself that she should quit this, but does she ever actually improve? Take a guess.
Other than the loathsome Jill, & bouncing back & forth between Sam & Burton's groups, with quite a few LOONNNNNG & incredibly boring side lectures on religion, the plot can be summed up fairly briefly:
1. someone wants to build a great big something to get to the source.
2. They toil mightily, get into intrigues & war with the neighbors for the raw materials,
3. They spend all their time in wild angst over who gets to run the thing when it's done.
4. Then they usually lose it.
Repeat, with different or the same people, different or the same great big something.
Unless I dozed off at the end (possible; I had to keep backing up b/c I'd gotten so tired of building, bickering, & bi*ching) we never really get a satisfactory idea of who or what is behind the Riverworld, or why. And by then, I didn't care.
The reader does an okay job; he's not too good with voices, so it wasn't always easy to figure out who was talking if there weren't adequate cues in the text, and I'm not wild about his voice, but he was...acceptable. At least as good as the book itself, which is sorta damning with faint praise. I gave him 1 more star than the book itself because his performance didn't inspire me to want to commit actual violence, unlike the book.
I've been a fan (weak term, actually) of Robert Heinlein for decades. I discovered the readings of Grover Gardner several years ago, & he's tops on my readers list. Put 'em together, what a treat!
I feel somewhat guilty about not giving RAH 5 stars across the board, but truthfully, CotG isn't my favorite Heinlein book. It's just not up there with Stranger in a Strange Land or Time Enough for Love, or even some of the "boys" books (but it's definitely better than some of his last clunkers, like "Friday" which I felt sorta stunk...forgive me, RAH).
Anyway, this is the story of Thorby's sequential life disruptions --from child slave bought by the kindly (& mysterious) "Pop" Baslam the Beggar, to part of the Sisu Trader family, to the brief stint in the galactic military to his final (surprise) return to his "real" identity. Heinlein uses Thorby & his adventures to discourse (at times somewhat excessively) on one of his favorite themes, freedom & its inverse, the loathsome slavery. It's because of the sometimes pedantic tone that I give this 4 stars instead of 5, because the book bogs down a bit occasionally.
But I thought after rereading it for the first time in decades, that it's held up well; Heinlein's visions of star travel seem as likely & vivd now as they did then, & big business & people are every bit as sleazy now as portrayed then...with a few good folks here & there, still trying to fight the good fight. Like a lot of Heinlein, it contains grains of hope toward humanity without ever (ever!) being overly optimistic.
Rich characters and interesting situations --Heinlein gives free rein to his anthropological ideas in this one-- make this a diverting read/listen. And of course, Grover Gardner does it right!
I was quite surprised when I heard, at the end of the book, that the copyright date was 1950. I certainly noticed that some modern tech was lacking --cell phones, for one-- but the book didn't really seem too terribly dated beyond that.
Other than that, I found it a pretty good listen. Though not exactly an 'edge of your seat' page turner, it was nonetheless quite interesting. The characters were well fleshed out & the developing relationship between Bob & the Detective was well portrayed, with Bob being neither too terrified nor too easily accepting of his unexpected internal partner, The Detective was an interesting character as well, also complex enough to seem a real character --despite being considerably advanced in physics & as a symbiote, he (it?) nevertheless makes some mistakes with Bob, thus escaping the "omniscient alien" type that too often appears in SF.
I did get tired of the somewhat pompous tone that appears at times, most notably the various characters who refer to assorted antagonistic entities as "our friend the [whatever]". If the doctor had used the phrase "our friend the plasmodium" one more time I'd have had to do something dire to somebody.
The reader did a solid if unspectacular job.
I really enjoyed the earlier Stephanie Plum books both in audio & print form, but Evanovich seems to've totally phoned this one in...& phoned it in poorly. The first 8 or so chapters are beyond dull; nothing happens, we get repeated, extended descriptions of Bob the dog tinkling & eating, Stephanie eating comfort food, Stephanie driving around Jersey endlessly, tons of Lula finding things to complain about (more on her in a moment). It's mundane crud, and even the introduction of an aging country music star with massive "quirks," which I assume was supposed to add spice & humor to the book, just provided another series of thuds.
The characters have become caricatures of themselves, or worse. All the usual suspects are here: Stephanie somehow continues to be a clueless bounty hunter --after 13 books of doing it, you'd figure she'd learn something-- yet at the same time she makes occasional near-Sherlockian leaps & bounces between a terrified & queasy newbie & a weary pro. She's just not authentic at all. And the outrageous and creative situations she used to get into are in the past, with nothing particularly inventive happening in the whole book.
Ranger, the sexy, near-ninja mystery man, has ended up in the truly unfortunate position of being uxorious toward Stephanie without actually having any kind of relationship with her --the most he gets is an occasional pat on the hand, maybe, but he acts like her lap dog anyway.
Joe Morelli has turned into a cardboard generic "cop" who adores Stephanie. Period. Yawn.
Lula gets the shortest stick in a veritable pile of match-sized kindling, though: whereas she used to be funny, quirky, and a unique character who (tho a former ho) had a considerable helping of...well, innocence or naivete may not describe it, but a rather charming sort of clueless unsophistication that made her endearing despite her volatile nature. Now Lula just seems dumb and downright mean, and her campaign against Tank verges on creepy....she's a worse stalker than the guy who's supposedly stalks the country singer, who just seems to be a harmless dweeb.
All in all, if this is the turn that the Stephanie Plum books take from now on in the series, I'm done with her. I suppose I should be happy that there were a dozen or so good ones, but it's annoying to have an author get so lazy & sure of their audience that they churn out garbage & hope nobody notices, or that their fans will be grateful for garbage if it's THEIR garbage, or however Evanovich excuses this tripe (other than the "laughing all the way to the bank" excuse). I do know that most authors get a certain number of fans who're so rabid that they will gobble up anything that author deigns to produce & they'll gush & fawn over it, no matter how wretched the dreck is (Laurell K Hamilton springs to mind as a particularly egregious example of dreck with rabid fans). I'd hope most people are more discerning & don't so enthusiastically reward lousy, lazy writing. I certainly won't. I may reread the old books, but am going to require proof of quality before throwing my hard-earned money in Evanovich's direction.
Lorelei King does what she can with this turkey, but not even her skillful reading can save it. It also seems as if the director has to pad the audiobook to get it near the requisite length; the pauses between chapters are the longest I've heard on any audiobook....I kept thinking my ipod batteries had died. I don't know how many pages the book was...however many it was, it was a waste of trees.
I've been looking for an "In Death" book that features Peabody more, because I'm getting really, really tired of Dallas. She's such a Suzie 1-note...every book is the same; Eve gets wigged out because some murder (no matter what the circumstances) throws her back into her traumatic childhood memories, she acts like Testosterone Trixie, kicking ass, guzzling coffee, acting as if she grew up on Mars & has never heard of things like parties, housewarming or baby shower gifts, etc, etc. The woman clearly pays no attention to anything that goes on around her (other than murder things & her traumatic childhood flashbacks). Roarke continues to love her madly, wildly, etc even tho she's a monumental pain in the neck, a constant grouch, always late, etc yada (that's why it's a romance novel; no matter how obnoxious she is, the world's richest, most gorgeous guy stays besotted with her. Riiiiight).
I find Peabody to be a much more interesting character, largely because not only is she nicer, she's more lifelike & complex, she grows & changes some as the books go by, she's funny, she's decent --simultaneously hard-nosed and caring.
Another gripe with this book; Eve spouts that old, idiotic, tired, untrue myth about hair growing after death. Why can't authors grow a brain & stop with the stupidity on that? It drives me nuts! Hair and fingernails DO NOT KEEP GROWING AFTER DEATH. It doesn't add anything to the plots I've encountered it in, other than to point up the stupidity of the author. (Tho this wasn't as bad as another book I listened to recently, where a character not only claimed the hair 'n' fingernails garbage, but also that both dead bodies and STEAKS AT THE GROCERY WERE ALIVE AT A CELLULAR LEVEL(!!!). Ye gods, I know science is like voodoo to some people, but how dumb does it get? Moronic, apparently.
Susan Erickson does her usual excellent job with the reading; she nicely & consistently walks the line between straight reading & acting, her pacing is always good, her pronunciation is almost 100% perfect. Sometimes the 'special effects' they do with the computer &/or droid voices get overdone, but that's not the reader's fault, & they don't get so bad they overwhelm the book.
Yeesh, I see there are other books in this universe. I hope Benny grows a brain, because I found him utterly, intolerably obnoxious in this book. Perhaps I haven't spent enough time around teenagers; maybe they are this bad. However, even if that is so, I don't want to read about a guy who's this much of a jerk, utterly condemning his older brother based upon "memories" from a horrific night that happened when he was 18 months old, treating Tom with contempt despite the fact that Benny would be dead many times over without him --died that night, died since from hunger or lack of care.
I don't actually believe anyone remembers things from that young anyway, beyond perhaps hazy impressions of emotional states --comfort, fear, drastic hunger. 18 month old brains just don't work in such a fashion that they could pass along memories like that, not the way adult brains do. One of the people that I respect & admire most in all the worlds & time, Ray Bradbury, said that he remembered some things from when he was three. I believe him, but he was one of the most brilliant people that ever lived & had one of the finest minds that ever cogitated.
Benny Imura does not fit any of those descriptions. He's not too bright, he's not too perceptive, he's not too thoughtful, he's not too nice. He's lazy. He can be pretty schmucky to his friends. He sits listening avidly to self-aggrandizing, obviously false stories told by two reprobate zombie hunter/killers, guys who any idiot with half a brain would immediately see are BAD guys, serious bad news, liars, cheats, & probably murders. But Benny doesn't have half a brain.
I kept forcing myself to listen further; all that kept me going was pretending that Benny would be eaten by a "zom"...it's not a good sign when a reader is praying the protagonist gets devoured.
Tom is also fairly unrealistic as a character, being far too saintly in dealing with his jackass younger bro. Most of the characters are cardboard.
There are other things that bother me about the book; the people in the town behave all alike in too many ways; NO ONE will talk about First Night (come on, some old boor would sit around blathering about how heroic they were), NO ONE will even consider trying to get electrical power going again. Even if a sort of religious taboo had grown up against electricity, after 14 years NO ONE has decided they're sick of washing clothes by hand? Puh-lease; after 14 DAYS, SOMEBODY woulda been out there trying to get things going again, no matter how loudly the zealots screamed. People just don't behave in lock-step like that. The entire remaining population of America is not going to just meekly abandon their mod cons, no matter what the provocation or how few are left.
Another peeve --& I know this is strictly a personal, idiosyncratic gripe-- but the term "zom" instead of "zombie" absolutely drove me up the wall.
Even if this is a 'YA' book, which I'm not entirely sure is the case, there are just too many things about it that are too simplistic, starting with the characters.
The reader, Brian Hutchinson, does a serviceable job with the material.
I consider these books to be the literary equivalent of mac 'n' cheese made with velveeta; absolutely yummy & absolutely trashy. "Brain rot reading" at its rottiest.
Eve seems to have undergone a condensing process for this book though: she's herself only much more so. Her characteristics seem exaggerated --something you don't necessarily want when the character is a caricature in the first place.
Her "tough cop with a heart of gold beneath" act is overblown here, to the point where she's just an obnoxious b*tch who comes off as selfish, self-centered, and barely human around Nixie--she responds with snappy nastiness (when forced to respond at all) to the poor 9-year-old girl who's entire family has just been slaughtered. She brings the kid into her home ...well, Roarke's magnificent castle-- because the bad guys are still out to get the girl, then Eve avoids her whenever possible & treats the girl fairly crappily when she can't avoid her.
I got real tired of Eve in this one, getting distracted often by the desire to reach into the book & slap her silly, or ditto the author. I suppose i'm supposed to feel sympathetic, that Eve is reacting to her own childhood horrors which are brought vividly back by the young girl's dreadful experience, but Dallas just lost my sympathy completely by allowing her own (old) pain to trump the traumatized Nixie's (brand new, fresh) agony & horror. Dallas needs badly to grow the heck up here, step on her me-me-me-poor-me thing & act like a grown up instead of a tantrum-y brat. These books are already unrealistic & ridiculous (they're romances, after all, they're supposed to be, but this one crosses the line.
I wouldn't recommend this one to anyone new to the "In Death" books or to a confirmed fan. Give this one a miss unless you enjoy gritting your teeth at obnoxious protagonists.
I found this addition to the LJ pantheon a disappointment. I listened to it several times --& had to restart it multiple times every time I tried it. I'd start the book & then a while later I'd realize there was a voice in my head but I had no idea what he was talking about; I'd gotten so bored with the story that I zoned out again. So I'd go back & start over, & within a few minutes I was thinking about my next grocery list or whatever.
It's not Woodman's fault; he's an excellent narrator, just a boring short book.
I didn't find any extremes in this book...nothing awful, nothing great. The performance came closest to awful, but wasn't quite that bad, just not very good. I don't like Glover's voice, don't think his characterizations are particularly good, am not terribly impressed with his pacing and emphasis.
Since I'm not thrilled with the reader, it's hard to say whether the book would've seemed better with a better reader. I definitely did not pick up much i the way of humor, and definitely didn't find it "wickedly funny." It's not that I lack a sense of humor or don't like dark, sarcastic, or satirical humor --I particularly love all 3. I just didn't think they existed much in this book. The MoD sounded like a number of the people I've worked with...the worst ones, who spend all their time griping & sniping, pithing & moaning, just being generally annoying. I've been forced to spend too much time around people like that in life, I certainly don't find listening to them to be entertainment.
This one's a "SIBI" --Sorry I Bought It.
Butcher continues the excellent Dresden Files, & Marsters continues to improve as a reader, with fewer mispronunciations in this one & not too many strange timings & (thank heavens) only one or two long-suffering, heavy sighs, a frequent & startling feature of previous readings which did nothing to add to the story & made me want to write him & say "If reading books is so deadly dull, please stop it."
But I'm being maybe too critical. This is not one of my faves in the series, largely because it repeatedly red-lines on the Angst Meter with Harry wallowing in (undeserved) guilt about Susan's condition (he TRIED to get her to stay away; what should he have done, locked her in a closet?) & way too much sighing over The Great Lost Love Elaine (come on; they were hormonally saturated adolescents who spent their pubescent years boinking each other at every opportunity up til age 16; he's now in his 30s & still pining over her? I don't think so.)
Every time I listen to it I end up with headaches brought about by excessive eye-rolling. But I keep listening to it periodically, so it does have a lot to offer. As with all the books in this series (up to Dead Beat, far as I've listened so far) Marsters is at his best when voicing oddball characters --his pixies are hilarious & other non-normals are equally brilliant. His presentation of regulars settled down by the second or third book, & he's definitely the Voice of Harry. Tho his voice changes dramatically between Summer Knight & Death Masks: I wonder if they got new production equipment, or what.
On a side note, I first learned about Harry from the extremely short-lived TV series of The Dresden Files, which I really, really liked. I will forever see the actor as the face of Harry. & I much preferred the actress who played Murphy to the relentlessly cutesie character of the book. If you've got a little over 4 hours to sit in front of the 6 episodes, ya might want to check it out.
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