This is my second book by Bryce Courtenay. The first was "The Potato Factory." Both books were excellent, and the narrator is beyond excellent. I actually stopped my iPod at one section of "Tandia" and replayed about 5 minutes just for the sheer pleasure of the language and the narrator's interpretation. The only bad thing I can say about Bryce Courtenay is that his books are epics and require a commitment to listen to a very long story. It's worth it!
Until this book, I was unfamiliar with Reginald Hill's work. I'm not certain how I was pointed in his direction, but I'm so glad I was! This is a wonderful book; witty and literary at the same time. Unlike so many "literary" books, the plot is not waylaid by incessant philosophical ponderings. I found myself picking up this read at every opportunity, often when I ought to be doing something else entirely. Bravo.
Likewise, the narration was also stellar. The narrator appeared to struggle with a few German words in a chapter introduction… but this is forgiveable in the light of the remainder of his performance.
I am not easily discouraged, but found that this book was a downer. It seemed to go on and on and on... and at the end I couldn't wait for it to end.
I bought this book partly on the high recommendations, which demonstrates that one can easily be mislead. While the narration was satisfactory, the characters in this "attempt" at a novel are nothing but cardboard cut-outs. There is zero depth to any character in the book. The book is heavily laden with overworn cliches such as "the milk of human kindness." Are you kidding me? It was at this point that I quit listening to the book and deleted it from my library. I'd be as well satisfied by a Harlequin Romance... and probably get a better story as well.
My main regrets are the money I wasted on this book, and the hours I wasted listening to half of it.
Flashback is an interesting novel, combining elements of science fiction with a sort of "post-apocalyptic America." The characters are interesting, and the plot is unpredictable. There's enough techie stuff to keep sci-fi nerds entertained.
Unfortunately, the author loads up his story with long political lectures in which he expounds on what I presume are his personal political biases. If these lectures were balanced or well-informed, perhaps they would be excusable. But as it is, they have all the insight and balance of a Rush Limbaugh rant. The author expounds on political subjects on which he is apparently ignorant, in the end achieving a sort of parody of Sarah Palin, where everything is black and white, good or evil.
The book is worth a listen, but more than once while listening I wished the author had chosen to empty his political garbage elsewhere.
As I listened to this book, I sensed a spirit of playfulness in the writing as Connelly gives one of the main characters an unexpected role to play in the story. The only reason I did not give this book a higher rating was because I found the ending just a bit too "lazy" and not completely satisfying. A score for the story would be 4.5, but a score for the ending would be 2.0.
As a 57 year old male, I might not be "qualified" to enjoy the Lamplighter trilogy (it being a Young Adult read), but I have enjoyed every minute of it. I became very attached to Rossamünd and the other characters in the story. The narration of Humphrey Bower is always amazing, but in this case the excellence was due as much to the writing as the narration. If you are a person who is willing to let his or her imagination roam free, I challenge you to listen to the this trilogy (begin with the first book, of course). You will not be disappointed.
While some trilogies end with a whimper, rather than a bang, the ending of the final book (Factotum) was unpredictable and satisfying.
If I read this book in print form, my review might be different. It seems as if the author is telling dual stories, juxtaposed throughout the book. But the two stories seem unrelated to a listener, and it is very hard to follow the purpose of the jumps between the two stories. In addition, the sex scenes (there are a number) are very graphic and might be perfectly acceptable in a book on sexual technique, but were completely out of place in this book. In the end, even Humphrey Bower's excellent narration couldn't get me through this novel. I gave up on the book about 3/4s of the way through. It was going nowhere.
This is definitely a literary work, so don't expect it to be a "page turner." However this book is worth a listen for several reasons. First, although not a "boiler" in terms of plot, it moves along sufficiently to keep a reader's interest. Second, there are ideas in this book (about how we rationalize our feelings while we supposedly try to keep others from suffering) that are worth time. Third, the writing at numerous places in this book practically glows with passion. I have now downloaded at least 100 books for listening, and I have yet to listen to any book that moved me to tears as deeply and as often as this book.
Or am I just getting tired of Jodi Picoult? The story here is engaging enough. Jodi's storytelling is good, and her characters believable, but her writing is the weakness. In every book I've bought, Jodi has sections where she lets herself get carried away with purple prose. She fails to halter her maudlin tendencies, and the result is a feeling of "embarrassment" for the reader, as he feels he is listening to a line or a paragraph that might have been penned by a child in an 8th grade composition class. Still, if you have not listened to a Picoult book, this is worth your time.
Some of the terms and words in this book are unfamiliar in this futuristic tale, but if you are patient and listen through the first chapter, it becomes much easier to understand.
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