I read mostly fiction, but was longing to read something with more substance. This Agent Zigzag book seemed like it might offer the intrigue of a good fiction book, but a real story with real people in it. And boy did it deliver. I also enjoyed the epilogue where Ben MacIntyre brought us to the 21st century with what happened to these real characters. Altogether, a great read
I managed to go a few years without reading Stephen King and now in the past year I've read several of his books, including On Writing (part autobiography, part writing tips). Of the novels, this is my favorite so far. It's long. I can't see why the publishers originally forced him to cut it. This is King's original version. I can't tell you what was sacrificed in the first published version. What I liked about this one was how so many of the characters were so fully developed. The only exception to that was Randall Flagg. King didn't give us any hint about why things were happening to him. I suspect that was on purpose, but I don't know why. I also liked the way the main story line wrapped up. Having said all of that, I was ready for it to end.
Another insight from reading The Stand is how much technology has changed our lives in the one generation since 1990. The protagonists could have really used a good smartphone. If nothing else, the GPS would have been working.
You don't have to be a Stephen King fan to enjoy The Stand. There is a little bit of the supernatural in it, but not too much.
I don't read much sci-fi, but the reviews said this wasn't like a regular sci-fi. What a fun read. At first I thought all the "science" would grow old, but it didn't. In fact, I found myself hanging on it. Not bad at all! And you got to like the main character. About 3/4 of the way through, I was curious to see if this one would be made into a movie. It has all the elements. So, I called up my IMDB app and sure enough, Ridley Scott has one in the works starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain due for release next November (2015).
I had higher expectations. Perhaps too high. I hated the ending. Just seemed too simplistic, too predictable. I ended it feeling cheated a bit.
I consume Follett's trilogies. I like the historical richness of them. I learn from them. Mostly, though, I'm taken by the characters and the situations they find themselves in. This book, as is his style, could stand alone without having read the previous ones in the trilogy. But knowing the family back stories does make it a little richer. It's a long listen, but worth it.
I loved listening to this book. I loved Alan Cumming's story and never tired of his voice. I've been a fan of his since The Good Wife started its Sunday night run a few years back. I had no idea, until recently, anything else about him or some of the outrageous roles he has played. I can't imagine anyone not enjoying this book.
I write for a living. Not fiction, mind you. I write for businesses. Many years ago, I took some time off to travel throughout Southeast Asia. On a train about a day outside Bangkok, my mind stumbled across the idea for a novel. Never happened to me before. As I meandered across northern Thailand, the story wouldn't leave me. I made my way south to an island off the Thai coast. There I spent a month in a little beachfront shack furiously writing longhand into notebooks. It consumed me.
Then my visa expired. As I left the country, it was as if I had sent my story into hibernation. It was something that I never really understood. How do we walk away from things that fill us with passion?
Fast forward about 25 years. I had hung on to those pages. Nearly 80,000 words. I pulled the notebooks out and started to read. Perhaps, I thought, there was something there for me. The situation no longer worked, but the story still had potential. I changed the setting, the characters and the time. I started over. Again, though, the world of family and job intervened. I didn't intend to set it aside, but that's what happened.
They say third time's a charm. I think it might be true. As I listened to Stephen King read this book, the confidence I felt on the island returned. So much of what he said, I do. Except for that month on the island, though, I never gave myself to it.
When I came back to the book a couple years ago, I found myself consumed with worry about where the plot would end up. Stephen King showed me how to trust my characters. And I do trust my characters! I've created some good ones with the potential to be both heroes and villains. Good people with serious flaws and god-awful ones with slivers of goodness.
I think the thing that I'll take from book that will make the most difference is to just keep at it. Knowing that someone like Stephen King relies on a daily word goal shines a spotlight on why my book had languished for so long. Good days, bad days. Doesn't matter. Give yourself a daily word goal and write until you hit it. He said to start small. I'm following his 1,000-new-words-a-day suggestion. I still have to work and pay attention to my family. And I'm not going to give up my 30 or 40 Audible books a year. Surely (sorry for that adverb, Stephen) I can muster a thousand words a day. I could have a draft done by late spring.
I don't know if this book would inspire others as it has me. I do know that it was the right book at the right time for me. Thank you, Stephen King.
I'm not going to say much for obvious reasons, but I didn't like the choices the author made in wrapping up this trilogy. I felt the path she chose was maybe a valid option, but totally unnecessary. I gave the other two installments in this series much higher marks. It's a good read - and clearly made for Hollywood.
I read a lot of books in this genre. I didn't care for this one. I like stories to give me useful clues as to what in the world is going on. This one didn't. I kept expecting the pieces - and there were lots of them - to fall into place, but that happen didn't until late in the book. There could have been a good story here, but it needed more care in the telling.
If you liked the early John Grisham better than the more recent one, you're going to absolutely love this book. A great story with a number of twists and turns. This book is actually a sequel to his very first novel, A Time to Kill, with that book's first protagonist again in the lead role in this book. This book was so well done. It has an easy writing style, which should never be confused with slow. The characters - all of them that matter- are richly drawn.
And special kudos to the narrator, Michael Beck. He managed to give distinct accents to a host of characters that made the book easy to listen to. I clicked on Beck's name and discovered that he has made a career of voicing Grisham's books almost exclusively. It's easy to see why.
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