This is a hilarious, funny, touching, and all-around wonderful story. I laughed out loud and got angry and sad and happy and all-in-all was completely enthralled. What a great audiobook!
I wanted to like this. It tackles a cool concept, but it does so without any style or wit. Not to be Foley, but I have so many problems with it. The only character I liked was Hugh Howie, who is clearly just a link to the one of the author's previous works. The two main characters are dull, flat, and entirely annoying. I hear that people like the other Bombo books, but I just don't get it at all. They repeat the same lines over and over, rehashing the same tired plot points. The story doesn't even make sense! I love sci-fi, but I could not suspend my disbelief for even a second in this story. Anytime a character would bring up something the audience might be thinking, another character would basically say, "We don't have time to explain!" That's bad writing, plain and simple.
For those of you listening to the audio version, don't. I have honestly never heard a worse narrator in my life. I listen to about 12 hours of audiobooks a week, so I've listened to a lot. This guy was horrible. He was clearly trying to distinguish between voices, but he slipped between them all with no relationship to which character was speaking! Even the different accents he chose didn't make sense for the characters he was supposedly trying to perform. Lines that might have been funny fell flat, and I actually lost track of who was speaking at times. Seriously, this guy needs more training before ever picking up a mic again.
I know this is a classic, and I really wanted to like it based on other works by Shirley Jackson, but I just can't. It's such a slow start, and the narrator (the character, not the voice actor) is so unreliable that I could not sustain my interest in her story. Dull.
When you begin the second half of the book, be prepared to have your perceptions shaken to the core.
This book is a perfect companion to "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout because one of the characters (I won't spoil who), could have been ripped from the pages of her clinical case studies! This is a brilliant piece of fiction made all the more terrifying for its realism.
I listened to this immediately after Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl," and they were a perfect pair! It was fascinating to learn about real, clinical sociopathy and its various manifestations. Every day, I came home talking about some new thing I'd learned about sociopathy.
Definitely read this one either before or after reading Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl." One of the characters (I won't spoil which one), could have been ripped from the pages of Stout's book!
Honestly, I feel quite torn about the audio and narration of this book. The audio components allow for a deeper realization of Jack's emphasis on words and ideas. However, the voice chosen for Jack is extremely annoying, almost unbearable in the beginning. I understand that the book is from Jack's point of view, but between the baby voice and the confusion of Jack's thoughts, it was a bit overwhelming.
Generally, the narrators did a good job differentiating all of the characters, but some of the women's voices started to blur once Jack and Ma left Room.
I'm glad that the majority of the book's plot was spent outside of Room. I almost stopped listening because I simply could not stand to hear Jack talk about breastfeeding any more. I'm glad that I kept listening, because hearing his attempts to contextualize Outside into his schema was fascinating. If you can stand the narration and get through the first part of the book, it's worth a listen.
The story itself is pure genius and if you don't already read Neil Gaiman, start! However, the format of the book didn't translate perfectly into audiobook. The narration was wonderful and the characters truly came alive, but the book is filled with vignettes and quotes, which tend to get blurred into the rest of the story. I'm sure that on a written page, the visual cues would have been enough, but there weren't any audible cues that you were listening to a vignette or a quote -- which was often confusing! Still, I loved the story and think it is wonderful, I just wish they'd given more thought to the audio version.
I won't ruin it for anyone, but I found the ending of this story completely underwhelming. There were so many questions unanswered and the answers we got were unsatisfying. Additionally, there is only so much self-destruction in a character I can find believable before it seems absurd. I enjoyed the occasionally mystical musings, but after finishing the book I feel let down and wish that Tana French had simply told her (quite good) story without all the frills. Her second book, The Likeness, is much better and makes reading this one worth it.
I enjoyed this book significantly more than "In the Woods" and I think this narrator is better as well. The story is engaging, surprising at times, and touching. However, I personally find it frustrating and annoying (especially in an audiobook where I can't just skip ahead) when a character consistently makes foolish or harmful choices. I don't really enjoy self-destructive characters and Tana French excels at writing them!
Still, I'm giving it 4 stars because she is an excellent writer with an excellent narrator, even if I find her characters maddening.
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