Fairly run of the mill as zombie stories go, a bit more solid on the explanation side in terms of where the zombies come from and why -- but they're zombies, so they are what they are and any author that tries to backfill that story has his hands tied behind his back already.
The reading, however, is truly horrible. William Dufris should be prevented from ever doing another audio book interpretation. It's so over the top melodramatic as to be cloying -- as if he's reading the story to a pre-teen audience who have only ever seen Mexican soap operas before. The minute I started the book an realized this was the same terrible reader that totally ruined John Scalzi for me on Audible I cursed and almost shut off the player. I've suffered through the book because the story line isn't bad -- but the reading so terrible that I am frequently "outside" the story and focused on the bad reading instead of what's going on.
If I wanted a romance novel, I'd go find one. There's a decent murder mystery here (though not great) wrapped around a bad romance novel. If any man ever actually acted the way the male hero in this book does, he'd be locked up rather than laid. I've also never man an abused woman who really just needs a good f*** in the role of a submissive to get over it. Talk about cliches. No, IMO, this is a pulp romance novel thinly disguised as a detective story -- which probably explains why it's so popular. The disguise lets people pretend to like it for one thing, when they really want the other. A bit like claiming to read playboy for the articles.
I started with the prequel and have worked my way to this one. In my opinion the series started a little weak but entertaining. Over time, Wilson has gotten better and better and building complex plots with well planned surprises. In recent stories he's even "gotten" me a couple of times with surprises that I "should have seen coming" since the clues were all there. That's unusual for me. It's not perfect and if I wanted to pick at nits I could -- especially on some technical details -- but that's hardly the point. I'm not looking forward to the new narrator that is introduced later in the series.
I'm not a fan of Mr. Colacci's reading style. With no disrespect to this hard working narrator personally, I simply find that his reading carries the tone of someone reading to a child. I try to avoid picking books he's read when I'm shopping on Amazon.
The rest of the book was in line with the rest of the series. It's a good, interesting, story with a lot going on and tremendous creativity. Anderson's world building is thorough and detailed, and doesn't lean too heavily on old ideas. On the other hand, it's a bit late in the series to be dropping in entirely new types of players to the plot. There's a hint of deus ex machina at play when that happens.
Overall, I think four stars is about right.
I'm a big fan of Mr. King's work in the last several years. His books have been outstanding novels even if taken from the broader perspective of general fiction -- which is not something you can say about most horror or suspense novelists.
Mr. Mercedes was good, but not quite on the "great" scale of some of his other work. I'd call it a solid, workmanlike novel that checks all the right boxes, keeps you interested, follows a reasonable story arc, and entertains you for the hours you listen. It won't haunt you or stay with you for years the way some of his work does.
I'm glad I purchased it, and look forward to his next.
It's not so much a bad story, as just badly told. Scott Brick does a fairly good job narrating it, but you can tell that even he has a really hard time figuring out where to build tension. The story reaches a sort of ending then stretches on into a different story. It's like the author had a few different story ideas and sort of munged them together. The level of coincidental path crossing is almost silly. I've never gotten this far through a book and abandoned it with just an hour or two left to go, but I found I just don't care about anyone or anything in it.
This book is creepy in a bad way, not a good way. I'd been warned - in the comments there were other people saying that some of the discussion of the rape that goes on in the lawlessness that exists was a bit much. I'd say that's not really the problem. They're not really all that graphic, they just seem that way because they're so out of place. The problem is that it seems almost to be the purpose behind writing the book. The rest of content is about half story line and half depressing side stories that have nothing to do with any of the longer term characters. Those parts of the story that do follow any kind of plot arc are very thin and barely hold together as a framework that drags from one story about a pedophilic rapist to another. Only those parts of the story seem to really get the attention of the author. It's just bad, and I very much hope it doesn't reflect the inner mind of the author.
This is one of a very few books, less than 1%, that I've regretted bothering with. This installment features a British naval crew who supposed to be elite special forces, a submarine, and a space station crew -- yet the author clearly didn't bother to do any research into how any of those things operate or what they can do. Monsters are introduced in one scene and ignored the rest of the book. The ending is so trite and worn out that I saw it coming hours and hours ahead. I'm tempted to write it here just to warn anyone over the age of about 12 away from this book, but spoilers are bad form so I'll just stick to saying "I told you so" to anyone foolish enough to bother.
Like many of the books in this series, the plot - while plausible and well constructed -- isn't really all that important. The story is in the journey and the characters. Once again, Craig Johnson has found a way to insert a believable but strong mysticism into the story line without ever once stepping beyond the realm of events that are possible without any supernatural help. The reader is left convinced, but without needing to leave behind their sensibility. The adventure is wonderfully told.
The author treats serious topics with as much respect as he treats his characters.
In addition to a solid story, the writing is beautiful. I particularly enjoy Johnson's treatment of native American mysticism in this series. It is neither overstated nor treated as a trite superstition. Nothing that happens in the story could be called magic, or could not have happened with only common, non-mystic, explanations -- yet the beliefs and experiences of the characters are compelling and their view of the world makes us the richer for having been part of them.
I have a friend who went through a similar set of injuries with his daughter and the treatment in this story rings true (if thankfully less detailed).
I do wish that Guidall's cadence was a better match for the slow drawl of a Wyoming cowboy or even more so a high plains indian. He tries, but he's just too east coast. Still, he's a gifted narrator and the word doesn't suffer from his treatment.
This a prequel and a good place to start for the series -- but understand that the series is all about the dark hero looking out for the powerless. The writing is technically good and the story moves along, but don't look for feasibility in the plot line, or plausibility in almost any aspect of the series. This book attempts to tell the early story of hour Repairman Jack (a sort of poor man's Jack Reacher) got started helping people, and maybe some of where his skills come from -- but really, it doesn't set up a plausible background for what the character is later in the series. The Reacher character from that series looks well researched and plausible compared to Repairman Jack. If you're looking for solid logic and well thought out long term series story arcs, go somewhere else. If you want to see a tough and mysterious hero beat up bad people this is for you.
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