How could you grow up in the south in the late 50's and early 60's and be so oblivious to national news and national movements? I just don't really appreciate Skeeter, I suppose. I can't forgive her naivete. But maybe that's the point. Maybe there are things I'm not seeing now that are right under my nose, like Gitmo and the supposed terrorists being held there. Maybe this story is a mirror being held up to ourselves so that we may know not to be too smug in our self-assurance that we would never be prejudice. Why in my own college years, I had a black friend, didn't everybody?
But after all the WWII books, fiction and non-fiction, I've read, I expect a new book about the camps and the war to bring something new to the table. It didn't. Re-reading Sophie's Choice is so much more rewarding.
Story arc is great. Believable if just a little predictable- but enough plot twists to make keep it interesting. Even though it goes back to Clanton and Jake, it reads all new again and didn't bog down with so many references to A Time to Kill that it got in the way. This is a Grisham book to win new readers.
Special kudos to Michael Beck, narrator. His performance is outstanding. I now search on his name to see what might interest me if he's reading it.
When writing a dystopian novel for YA, the author still needs to get gritty. Not be afraid of PG-13 ratings. There is something here, but lacks real grit to be worthy of comparisons between the Potter series or the Hunger Games, or a singularly good novel, The Book Thief.
I get the metaphorical aspects - growing up, loss of innocence, tried and true story theme. But this comes no where close to what I would expect for a book enthused by so many readers as "adult." Want to read young adult books that speak to adults, try "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak.
And for that, the story doesn't deserve 5 stars, but then, what's the point of 4 when overall this story is so well put together - even if I did want to throw my iPhone at the wall when I got to the ending. Listened to this for my book club and I think my experience of the book was entirely different from those who read the book. I found the book hilarious in parts. The dark humor shone in the narration that I think my friends completely missed in the reading of the book. My guess is that everyone read so quickly to get to the next twist and turn that they didn't take the time to look closely and see how things came together. I thought it was a remarkably constructed story - there's the Amy of the Diaries, the real Amy, the Nick we think we know, the real Nick and all 4 are there all at the same time. It's a brilliant listen. While I think you really have to suspend your disbelief at the end of the novel, it's a great ride.
John Lee as narrator does a fine job. Follett was so formulaic that I think an assistant must have written it from an outline. In fact, I was offended in many places. Yes. Offended. His throw-away to gays in the story was at best patronizing and at worst showed an old man trying to pass himself off as modern. It was false and offensive. Perhaps I know too many stories of WWII, seen too many movies, know too much history, but Follett brings no new insights, breaks no new ground. Quite a disappointment.
There were moments of brilliant writing, but not enough of them. There was too much absurdity - sorry for the plot giveaways, but NO company writes a blank check for research without oversight not now, not ever, so the basic assumption of this book of a research team hiding out in the jungle is absurd. The United States would NEVER let a US citizen die on foreign soil without verification of death, reclaiming the body, issuing a death certificate. Excuse me, but how would his wife claim death benefits? Now if you can get past that, well, you might enjoy the novel, or not. Patchett hit on a couple good topics, a cure for malaria and fertility - both relevant but gave them superficial treatment at best. Worst yet, there's no overarching theme to hang on to.
The narrator, Lenny Henry, captures each character's essence and vulnerability. He is magic to listen to. A Gaiman story is always a magical and terrifying experience, but Henry's narration brings it home.
Such an homage to my youth. Just good fun. Probably too many stars, but why not?
Silly is the first thing that comes to mind. And the last. In between some lapses of common sense and a plot that suffers from too much predicability. But, if you have nothing better to do while you are folding that laundry, enjoy.
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