This is not merely below Hiaasen's usual standards, but genuinely bad. I don't understand what happened -- his other work is so consistently entertaining. Read Skinny Dip, or Skin Deep, or Stormy Weather....just not this!
This was fantastic, both as a book and as an audiobook. My wife also loved it. Highly recommended.
Dement is at his best when he's talking about sleep research and the various experimental results he's witnessed over his long career. It's fascinating stuff and it comprises a large part of this book, which is why I think the work overall is pretty good. I'm glad I listened to it.
I don't give it a 5, however, because of two flaws. (1) Dement's commentary is often quite repetitive -- at the beginning and end of every section, for example, Dement drones on about how people don't realize how important sleep really is. OK, OK, we get it. (2) Dement name-drops and congratulates himself a lot. Many times, you get statements like this (paraphrasing): "When I was invited to testify before Congress, I told them how So-and-so, my good friend and distinguished colleage at Stanford, had made the remarkable discovery that...." or "In 1998, I won yet another grant from such-and-such charity, proving again the need in modern America for innovative sleep research." The book would have been better without such self-congratulatory indulgences.
Don't be misled into thinking, as I did, that this book would offer a critical, well-reasoned, and empirically supported analysis of the fast food industry. It is an alarmist rant about nutrition, capitalism, suburban sprawl, the influence of big business in politics, urban blight, and other loosely connected themes, sprinkled with a twist of conspiracy theory. (Did you know that Walt Disney and Ray Kroc were in the same ambulance unit in WWII? Coincidence? This book thinks not.)
The author's commentary on the implications of our "fast food nation" is so frustratingly blind to counterarguments that I found myself ranting back at my iPod. For example, the book declares with apparent horror that 85% (or something like that) of the job opportunities created for teenagers in the last two decades were in fast food restaurants, and those jobs only pay MINIMUM WAGE. OK....but were these teenagers going to get higher paying jobs if the fast food industry had not grown? Or would they simply have been unemployed, or employed in other, more dangerous minimum wage jobs? I don't know, but the answer certainly is not in this book.
I should add, too, that the reader in this recording has the grating habit of imparting melodramatic stress to a word or phrase in nearly every sentence (or so it seemed). The combination of this performance and the author's absurdly simplistic analysis was unbearable. I finished only about 3/4 of the book before I couldn't take it any more and deleted the whole recording.
Report Inappropriate Content