John Lee continues to do an excellent job in his performance of the audio book. I'd rate the story about 3.5 stars. It's better than most and people interested in hard sci-fi should take a look at this story. That said, the ending is very unsatisfying and on the way, the author has far too many plot threads and it seemed to be unnecessarily complex, but my main complaint is the ending which is basically a deus ex machina.
This book centres around a teenage blind girl, Caitlin and an emerging consciousness that is in the World Wide Web. In some ways, this is a sci-fi book inspired by Helen Keller's story with Caitlin in the Anne Sullivan role and the consciousness in the Helen Keller role. While this is the central story, there are other side stories and characters that appear and intersect in some way the the central story.
I actually find the story of Caitlin and dealing with her blindness and her life more compelling than the WWW consciousness story.
On the audio production side, this book is fantastic. Multiple narrators are used, one for each story line (each with its own particular central character) and the gender of the narrator is the same as the central character in the story line. Since there are a number of story lines and regular switching, this helps one keep focussed on which story we are in at the moment. Also, for the portions of the text that reference historical audio, the actual historical audio is used rather than a reading (this is a really nice touch).
On the down side to the audio version, there are parts where long strings of binary show up and I found I just wanted to get past that since listening to someone list off a string of zeros and ones doesn't make for good audio. This is something that while fine in print is annoying in audio. Lastly, there's some minor pronunciation errors that I found jarring, some of which (e.g., Laurier) probably wouldn't bother a non-Canadian (or French-speaker).
One thing that I liked (but others might dislike) is that at times the book will go into long, technical explanations/discussions.
All told, I love this book and its mix of the personal relationships and hard science-fiction elements.
I picked up the full cast production in the hope that the full cast recording combined with the "Author's Preferred Text" might save the book. It doesn't. While I love so many of Neil Gaiman's other books, I can't say the same for this one. As Neil points out, this is a meandering book, which to me makes it seem that things aren't really going anywhere. I'd recommend that people check out "Neverwhere", "Anansi Boys", "Stardust", or his fantastic children's book, "The Graveyard Book" instead.
I quite like the story, but the narrator doesn't do a good job for this story. For other stories, she'd probably be good, but for the Kris Longknife series, she's not as appropriate as others would be. Make sure you listen to the sample before purchase. I still enjoy it, even with the narrator, so I'm getting the others in the series.
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