Genre: Fiction,, mystery, semi-real world (On earth in a fictional geographically nonspecific European country)
Rated: PG13: A lot of cussing, no sex, some violence
Static or Dynamic: Dynamic; this is an active mystery in a society with very strange social rules that enhance and complicate the story.
1st or 3rd Person: 1st person: our chief male detective of the extreme crime squad
Abstract or Concrete: Abstract heavy. The book is placed in two countries that border each other. The citizens in each country must ignore the happenings of the other country, literally, even if they are feet away or they get black bagged by a power called Breach. The book centralizes on the theme of selective ignorance and how it has shaped the two countries that the concept revolves around. The concept is heavily present and thoroughly intriguing. I've never felt so intrigued about a story before. This is right up there with the Matrix, and V for Vendetta though it's got a much more classy feel than either of those.
Linear or Non-Linear: Linear, it's a complexly straightforward murder mystery.
Narrator: John Lee is my favorite voice actor and he did a wonderful performance reading this book. His voice captures the rich character behind our protagonist and he successfully makes the anxious moments of the story feel that way.
Plot Outline: The book might be characterized as what a cold war would physically look like in a cultural sense. Each country has vastly different politics, both reminiscent of a communist and capitalist system though that's not heavily stressed. The residents of the two cities live right next to one another but must pretend that anyone they see on the other side doesn't exist. The illustration of this is wonderfully employed when a murder in one city, has results in the other. The quest becomes tenuous as our inspector has to navigate the jurisdictional hooplah involved in the alien governments. I loved this book and have listened to it twice now. I'm sure that I will listen to it again with the same amount of entertainment. Parts of it are simply too intriguing not to poor over and other parts of it are spooky in the way that well contrived conspiracy theories can be.
Genre: fictional biography
Rated: PG-13 violence, sexual themes, hopeless situations
1st or 3rd Person: 3rd person follows Temujin throughout the whole book who later becomes Genghis Khan
Static or Dynamic: Periods of staticness, the story definitely moves but they are predominantly large chunks of a few settings respectively. It's a story that your grandfather might have told you on a long car trip.
Art or Entertainment: neither, this was meant to be a fictional retelling of a story that actually happened. It was inspiring to listen to. It's an atypical adventure story if you want to classify it.
Linear or Non-Linear: linear; it's a biography
Narrator: that guy's voice is DEEEEEEEEP. it fit perfectly thought. His rugged voice fit the physically impoverished and naturalist setting of the story.
Plot Outline: Temujin is a boy who will one day become the great Genghis Khan. He suffers tremendously throughout his childhood and early adulthood which toughens him up to be the bamf he later becomes in life. The book wasn't especially fast paced but it didn't have to be. The author appears to stay true to the events as they happened and leaves in some of the dull moments which, if appreciated as a whole, are great at filling out the atmosphere of what tribal Mongolia was like. The story goes through the turmoil of his family being broken, his entry into manhood and his eventual campaign to unite Mongolia under a single banner. It's a great look at how life used to be and an exploration into where greatness comes from.
Genre: Sci-Fi not too distant future - Turkey
Rated: R sex, language, some violence, adult themes
1st or 3rd Person: 3rd person, 5-6 main characters followed in different settings
Static or Dynamic: Dynamic, it's a changing story but it moves Sloooooowly...
Art or Entertainment: art. This book has incredibly little entertainment value. It is meant to be a critique of many things, economy, technology, religion, politics etc. I say too thought provoking with pain because I'm all into things being conceptual but the lack of excitement made this book very hard to sit through. I gave the story a 5 because it is incredible but I gave it a 3 overall because the execution was a little undressed. There doesn't need to be a lot of action but I need to feel like I can identify with the characters and feel their anxiety. Unfortunately, sense their are 5+ independent main stories to follow, I couldn't get too attached to any of the characters which was a little bit of a let down.
Linear or Non-Linear: semi-non-linear. There are so many characters and parts of the book are historical references that it feels like the book is more of a nebula of ideas than a coherent story. That's not a bad thing but it can really urk some people who want it told to them straight forward.
Narrator: Jonathan Davis is a good voice actor and I'm glad he took the time to get the Turkish names right. Their c's are pronounced like j's in English among other things and he got it right. Good job sir.
Plot Outline: I will preface this by saying that if you don't know who Ataturk is, you need to at least wiki him. Additionally, if you don't know a lot about Muslim lore, you might need an informed friend or a wiki page open while you listen. The plot is generally 1 a boy with a disability trying to embark on a conspiratorial adventure, 2 an old man economist who can predict terrorist attacks via stock market figures exploring his past and adjusting the future, 3 a cunning art dealer who is contracted to find a seemingly impossible ancient treasure, and 4 her husband who is a hot shot stock broker who invests and crushes people with his tactical prowess who is trying to set up a long con, 5 a young country woman who is trying to make it as a small time lobbyist/sales manager for a new technology, and 6 a young man who experiences a terrorist attack at the very beginning of the book who starts seeing Djinn and some Islamic folk lore entities that you might have to read up on. It's a very conceptual book and were I Turkish myself I might have enjoyed it more though it was still entertaining to encounter. The story revolves mainly around most of these characters having something to do with this old Dervish house in Istanbul. Most of the stories end up blending into each other. The plot is complexly designed and it deserves a lot of credit. I just wish it were easier to follow ~~
my warnings for people are if you are overly patriotic about Turkey, have strong Islamic views, or can't stand economics, this book might ruffle your feathers, or it might not.
Genre: Sci-Fi far future, cyber-punk (anarcho-capitalist themes, mind altering drugs, and artificial consciousness), Murder mystery
Rated: R Violence, torture, heavy language, graphic sex
1st or 3rd Person: 1st person Takeshi Kavacs and 4+ characters
Static or Dynamic: omg dynamic. This story is all over the place and moving there fast
Art or Entertainment: Both. The story can be read strictly on either it's artistic merritts or it's entertainment value alone respectively. The concepts of digital consciousness and existentialism are INTENSE!!! conversely, our main pro is an ex-envoy. a handful of those guys can bring down a whole government with properly executed Con's and violence.
Linear or Non-Linear: Linear. It's a murder mystery really.
Narrator: Todd McLaren is a total bamf. I remember him very well and could listen to the book just because he's reading it.
Plot Outline: Takeshi Kovacs (ko-vaa-tch) is an ex-super black ops envoy who has been contracted by an obscenely wealthy Meth to figure out who killed him in a previous incarnation. In this world, people exist digitally in a stack at the base of their skull which records their experiences and supplies the decision making of the mind within. You can be saved, uploaded, and downloaded light years away and if you have enough money, you can make an insurance policy to ensure that you always have a backup. The story is fast paced and emotionally hyped. Tak is a seriously awesome protagonist. This book is offensive in many ways so if you are particularly sensitive, you shouldn't buy it. if you don't mind getting your mind dirty though, it's a story you won't forget.
Genre: Sci-Fi near future, Murder mystery
Rated: R Sex, Language, really offensive violence
1st or 3rd Person: 3rd 4+ characters to follow
Static or Dynamic: Dynamic. The setting constantly changes and the store moves along, a little slowly, towards finding the bad guy.
Art or Entertainment: Art. This book is heavily focused on how things might could look in the future in some ways and a strong criticism of how things have been and where they are likely to continue. If you are religious in any way, you might find this offensive. He calls the South of the US "Jesus-Land" so be prepared.
Linear or Non-Linear: Semi-Linear: we follow several settings as they go forward in time but the time lapse between them and setting change can be disconcerting.
Narrator: very memorable
Plot Outline: in the future, we've made a genetic reduction of human to a point in time where humans didn't have morals or feelings of social belonging. They are called 13's. Our main character, a 13, is acquired and employed to hunt down someone which is what he does for a living. The book is a criticism of social constructs rather than logical constructs. Social constructs are build on belief and continue because people believe in them -religion, culture, etc whereas logical constructs are true timelessly and free of reference. Our main character is in a unique position that society does not accept him because he CANNOT fit, genetically, into society. Basically, he was bred to be a total tool. this puts him in a unique position to criticize society though not necessarily a valid one. He also seems to be so hopelessly lost in the moment that he doesn't really care for logical arguments either and thinks that the world is basically shizzz. It's hard to make a sociopath a main character because it's impossible for a reading audience to identify with him so the author did make some accommodations to make the character tolerable. If you're a die-hard psychologist or think you've got human behavior mapped out, this is gonna drive you nuts, but if you're not that harsh of a critic the main character is an anti-hero that is entertaining to watch and listen to. I recommend the book but add that it's not for everyone. If you're sensitive about anything, might want to pass on this one as it pushes a lot of buttons. Additionally, it's got some gruesome stuff in it, so if gore bothers you stay clear.
Rated: PG-13 small sexual themes
1st or 3rd Person: 1st person: Enzo the dog, with his friend and family
Static or Dynamic: Static, the setting doesn't change physically that much but that same place goes through many moods that make you want to cry on both sides of the spectrum.
Art or Entertainment: Entertainment. This is a wonderfully enjoyable read that doesn't take that much effort to enjoy. The story was wonderful and the climaxes were well planned.
Linear or Non-Linear: Linear
Narrator: The narrator was incredible. It's been almost a year now and I can still remember how awesome he was.
Plot Outline: Enzo is a dog and he's going to tell you what that's all about. He discovers the joys of being a companion, guardian, and an individual. His insights into the world from his unique perspective shed some external light on the human experience and how we might view our lives from another angle. Enzo's family goes through more than a couple of difficult times (be prepared to cry some it gets real sad) but his persistent companionship with his closest friend marks how wonderful having a loyal un-speaking friend can be.
Genre: Sci-Fi Distant space future
Rated: PG-13 mild violence
1st or 3rd Person: 3rd person, 4+ main characters
Static or Dynamic: Dynamic. This are always changing. So much so that it can get confusing.
Art or Entertainment: Art. Asimov tries to (well at his time) create the genre of inter-space statecraft so expect never ending political scheming. This is not a book that is meant to entertain you and wow you with special effects. It's a classic that is meant to be thought about.
Linear or Non-Linear: Semi-Linear. Things progress in one way but there is a secular prophet (he would hate being called that) who predicts the future with sociological mathematics.
Narrator: Well done but not inspiring.
Plot Outline: This book could very very very easily have taken place at any time in Earths history with much the same effect. It happens to take place so far in the future that humans have forgotten which planet they first came from which in 1951 was probably mind boggling. The plot is essentially a statecraft novel that follows the Cons of five Con men/politicians. Their main strategies follow along Deception -> Tactics -> Coercion -> Guile. The book takes place over several hundred years and when the cons of one civilization eventually plateau the Foundation has to undergo a paradigm shift to maintain it's footing and continue growing. I really like the idea but I've seen it so many times now that it was a little underwhelming though at the time of it's publication I'm sure that it was extreme. I've read Asimov before and he tends to make his protagonists all powerful and his antagonists thoroughly hate-able (which is good) but always suffer from extreme character flaws that get them conned out of everything they have. Asimov has been described as having almost no illustrative techniques while still making a successful book. This is the case here. There are no succulent daisies swaying in the wind of an effervescent moon beam, however, the plot formulation is stimulating and genius. I would heartily recommend this book for the effects it's had in science fiction alone and it's individual merritt only adds to that, though it's more than a little political, so prepare to do something stimulating with your hands or feet while you listen to keep from losing focus.
Genre: Sci-Fi present day, aliens!
Rated: R disturbing violence, some sexual themes
1st or 3rd Person: 1st our main protagonist and 4ish characters to follow
Static or Dynamic: Dynamic. The story definitely moves along at a pace with twists and turns.
Art or Entertainment: Entertainment. This book is the boring filler material pulled from the scraps of another book I might respect. The book was very droll even though it had a few things happening. I don't think that there was any moral at the end and I don't think there was any concept that stuck with me. It's an action book but not a thriller.
Linear or Non-Linear: Linear. I did this, and then this, and then that
Narrator: Plain Jane
Plot Outline: Aliens invade... or do they? People die. then more aliens invade... or do they? Then more people die. and then some more people die. It's an action book. If you like actiony war books with some tactics and strategy then you might like the book more than I did. I can't say that I'm particularly enthused and though the series continues on, I don't think I'll be following it. This book feels like a stepping stone between to much larger stepping stones and unfortunately, I couldn't get my footing on it.
Genre: Sci-Fi space age far future
Rated: R- violence, sex, and language, though none of it was disturbing to me
1st or 3rd Person: 3rd 1 main character and 5-6 side characters
Static or Dynamic: The first half is dynamic and rapidly moving but the last half just dragged on...
Art or Entertainment: Entertainment. This is the only Culture book I've read that wasn't more artistic than it was meant to make your time enjoyable. It might be considered a mild thriller whereas "The Player of Games" or "Surface Detail" which are in the same universe (Banks' Culture novels) are considerably more thought provoking and inspiring. This is the first book in the collection of Culture novels but, it, like all of the other novels are independent of each other entirely except for their general setting. I think this book, being the first, was Mr. Banks exploring the idea of what the Culture is and how it works.
Linear or Non-Linear: Linear. Unfortunately towards the end it got into the "this happened then this happened and then this happened" rut. A lot of the story was a little predictable but that's not necessarily a bad thing as it was still very enjoyable to listen to.
Narrator: Peter Kenny is a God among other voice actors. Guarantee you'll love him.
Plot Outline: Horza is a spy for the Idirans (sp?) who are fighting a war against the Culture. The Idirans are sort of a traditional empire whereas the Culture is a decentralized anarchic continuum of genetically redesigned humans and their sentient machines. The plot is an adventure story that revolves around Horza trying to find something that both the Idirans and Culture want badly. He runs into some people that help him along the way and there is some romance throughout. He's a complicated character and fun to travel besides as a listener of the book. I would recommend the book if you are a die hard Culture fan and want to flesh out some of the background of the Culture or if you're up for some relatively pros story telling. The few parts that are thought provoking are intense but brief so you don't have to spend to much brain juice.
Rated: R for violence and horror
Static or Dynamic: the first half is static and straightforward plot setting and the second half is dynamic and actiony.
1st or 3rd Person: 3rd person with 3+ people to follow
Abstract or Concrete: Balanced: many parts of the book were concrete and mechanically described how something looked or how someone felt about something. However, a large portion of the book revolves around the concept of whether or not the society in the book is mature enough to handle the technologies they possess. It's a classic story of what happens when a lesser developed civilization stumbles on a piece of technology that is waaaaaaaay to advanced for them and ends up getting itself into trouble, however, this particular story is a spin on that taking it a level deeper.
Linear or Non-Linear: Mostly linear, however, one of the characters is in a sort of "timeless" category, though, not really.
Narrator: No complaints
Plot Outline: A parallel American society has an Olympic gladiatorial glorified cock-fight competition where each country pits a biologically altered monster against the rest of the world's monsters. America finds a designer that is cunning beyond words and possesses technology that hasn't been charted. Furthermore, the result is arguably even more cunning and horrific. The story is relatively straight forward and it analyzes the morality of a mob based world that can only be satiated with entertainment. Most of the story is a hard science backed look at the ramifications of genetic engineering. Do yourself a favor and look up Haploid, Diploid, and the types of Zygotes with respects to chromosomes an animal can have if you don't know and want the full ramifications of what's happening. It's not something that is really going to trip you up but it will give you some background that could help smooth some explanations out.
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