Embassytown is a rich, vivid imagining; everything one would expect of China Mieville. It's an intelligent medidation on isolation, and on the power of language to break through (or appear to break through, with many side-effects and consequences) that isolation.
I very much wish I had just picked up the text rather than the audiobook, though. The narrator's overly-dramatic rendering of voices and emotions makes several pivotal moments in the audiobook nearly un-listenable. Her 'Posh Spice' rendering of the protagonist's voice destroys any credibility that character might have had. The narrator also reads certain dialogue with a spitting, acerbic, anger that is completely inappropriate to the text, and has one repeatedly wishing that there were a button to move the track *forward* 30 seconds.
This is easily the greatest artistic creation in the history of humankind. It makes A Tale of Two Cities read like the scribblings of a brain-damaged infant.
I'd heard so much about Castaneda, I thought I'd give this a shot. I'm an open-minded person, exactly the audience I think this work is intended for.
After Castaneda's endorsement of the beating of children, I started to have my doubts. The immaturity and idiocy that followed shocked me to my core. This was a very very self-obsessed guy, full of preconceived notions about himself, about others, and about the world around him. The experience of listening to this was disturbing and sad.
Lomong's story makes a great listen. It fizzles a little toward the end, but I guess that's to be expected; it's really his childhood experiences that will hold the most interest.
The narrator has a sort of fairy-tale storytelling style that wouldn't work for most audiobooks, but which is very appropriate for reading this story.
Lomong is a religious guy; I'm not. But he doesn't beat you over the head with his beliefs. It's just who he is, and that's cool. He's not the fastest in the world. He's not the most brilliant guy in the world. He has an interesting story worth hearing, that's all. This audiobook does a good job of delivering on that.
There is a lot of dull detail in this book, and a lot of lists. Mostly, it's "book report" -- a regurgitation of material from other books. Meanwhile, the narrator is trying his best to inject drama into every sentence. The combination produces a peculiar mix of irritation and boredom.
If you are this interested in the minutiae of footwear, then the written copy is probably a better bet for you.
The author claims all kinds of physical miracles, and does not come across as believable or wise. A lot of what he says is very dogmatic, and seems focused on proving that his particular branch of practice is best, and his masters are the greatest. He decries ego while demonstrating ego on every page. It's terribly disappointing, but I did learn much from reading it -- however, the lessons I learned probably were not the ones the author thought he was giving.
The narration is in a strong British-Indian accent, by the way. The narrator is competent much of the time, but does mispronounce several words in ways that can be very distracting.
If you've read Ex-Heroes, and are wondering whether to give this one a try, just do it. It's a little better written than the previous book in the series, and is at least as entertaining. The voice acting is similar to that of the first book as well.
Warning: the "bonus" short story at the end is kind of shockingly bad, and is totally unrelated to the "Ex" world; you may want to skip it.
This book was a great listen for my long weekend runs. The author explores the topic thoroughly, humorously, and warmly, while avoiding the "look at me, I'm oh so special" vibe that plagues baby-boomer memoirs.
The narrator was pitch-perfect, too.
It's a collection of memoirs, interviews and diary entries, stitched together with little in the way of narrative, or common thread. There are a lot of incredibly trivial details of the lives of minor celebrities and other people associated with Scientology, tangentially or directly. There is certainly a wealth of "information" here, but very little of it is enlightening, and even less is entertaining, especially in the audiobook format. The reader's delivery is competent but very dry. I found myself skipping entire chapters, which I seldom do.
I guess I learned something, and Scientology remains a peculiar and elusive topic. This book could have been perhaps a third of its current length, added some sort of consistent narrative thread, and have handled the topic just as well while being a better book.
It's garbage, but very entertaining garbage. Clines slips up a few times, and his phrasing is pretty groan-worthy at times. But he keeps the storyline moving. Listening to it is like watching a B movie, which I think in this case totally is a compliment, since that's really what the author's going for.
Not much to add to other reviews. The book has everything: honor, betrayal, intrigue, love, and great battles.
The narrator took a few minutes to get used to. Soon, I realized that he is using a different voice for each character. And that there are many, many characters. And that he always goes back to the correct voice for a given character throughout the long, long book. Stunning, really. That Mr. Dotrice can do this a any age, much less well into his 80s, is downright inspirational.
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