After reading the positive reviews for this book I was really looking forward to it. The basic idea seems intriguing enough, a treasure hunt in space.
Unfortunately this book does not deliver. I wasn't really expecting a roller-coaster thriller but this book is on defiantly on rails, rails running across a flat landscape with nothing much to look at as you go by at a sedate 35MPH.
I have always been a fan of sci-fi, enjoying everything from space operas, to hard sci-fi to thrillers. I don't require space battles every five minutes but I do think that there should be something to drive a story along. This book is missing its engine.
From the beginning you know that every mystery is going to be solved eventually and its becomes just a matter of waiting for the inevitable. Must of the 'action' of this book consists of the characters performing research. This in itself is a not a bad idea but instead of a CSI like delving into details the investigation mostly consists of traveling from place to place to ask a few questions.
The few genuine action pieces are so clumsily written that you never are driven to feel any emotion. Mostly you just want it to be over so the plot can move on.
For a much better story of space archeology consider "The Engines of God" which tells much the same story but does a far better job at it.
The only reason this book gets two stars is for the narration, which unlike the writing, is excellent. This reader has one of the most pleasant voices I've listened to on Audible.
Don't want to waste too much time trying to review this, and as I could only make it through the first half hour of the book there really isn't much to say. I was at first disgusted and then bored.
This author doesn't understand the difference between 'gross' and 'horrifying' Sure, stepping in dog feces may be the first thing that you do during the zpoc but that doesn't mean it should be the focus of first chapter of the book. Main character and his wife are utterly unlikeable. Story is generic and only sets its self apart by how much it focuses on the smell and texture of dog poop rather than the matter at hand. Its an apt metaphor for the experience.
Day by Day Armageddon and Beyond Exile are two of my favorite books. This book, while modestly entertaining, is just another cliche zombie adventure. I guess the author really had no idea why his first two books where so loved. For that matter, did he actually even write this one?
The only good thing I have to say about this book is that its not actually so bad that it retro actively ruined the first two books, but its not one that I will ever listen to again or keep in my library.
I'd loved all the other Stephson that I have read but this book just didn't do it for me. I couldn't stay awake, and couldn't figure out what was supposed to be going on or why I should care. There didn't seem to be any story here.
I usually don't even look twice at books when audible promotes them or when I see them on the best seller list. Generally this is where they stick the pop culture cheap thrills that I generally can't stand. Its like the top review on a google search, you never click on it because it always just a paid ad and never what your really looking for.
But this book kept popping up in forums around the net and I finally decided to give it a try.
And boy, am I glad I did. The thing is though, this is actually a rather hard book to describe. In some ways it makes me think of Harry Potter for adults, not in the plot but in the feel and pacing of the story. For much of the book the characters are more or less comfortably making there way through their lives while getting to know each other and the building they live in. Each of them has discovered some mysterious facet of their apartment and most have simply accepted it. Unlike most 'mystery' books these characters are not merely monster fodder but likable and interesting. They feel like real people, struggling to pay the bills, looking for romance and simply enjoying the sunset.
Things start to pick up when the new guy, our protagonist, decides to systematically explore the mystery. Soon he has a team of fellow renters who are helping him and over several weeks they realize that there is a lot more to the mystery than they first thought.
This is where the plot turns from Harry Potter like everyday exploration into H.P. Lovercraftian horror with a good chunk of steampunk thrown in. Yes, I said Steampunk, there is a lot of in this book although you won't know that until your half way through.
Is this mystery? Is this fantasy? Its both really, and its all good.
Most of the books in my audible library I've listened to only once, some twice. This book was so enjoyable that upon finishing it I immediately started it again.
That was my reaction after the first finishing this book.
For a long time I thought that the the story of the first bugger war was one that needed to be told but it this is not that story.
I don't really know what this is. Shameless cash in comes to mind. Poor copy of B movie alien invasion possibly. Whatever it is this is not the Orson Scott Card of Enders game or Speaker for the dead.
This book seems to be mostly composed of recycled elements from previous books that all feel out of place in this one. Super intelligent 8 year olds? check. Young men and women with troubled family relationships? check. Excessive and gratuitous attempts to show off just how much the author knows about spanish culture? check.
What is worse, this book has no ending. It is not the story of the first bugger war, it is the story of a bunch of hateful, ignorant or simply confused characters trying to find themselves, and failing to do so before the author simply seems to lose interest in his own book and pulls the plug on the whole thing without ever actually getting to the climax.
The whole thing reads like Independence Day but with less interesting characters. Orson Scott Card has actually managed to write an alien invasion that is so boring that it is even ignored by most of the characters in the book.
If you have ever read (or listened) to Pandora's Star or the Void books you don't need to read this review, you already know what it is like.
Although this is a stand alone book in a separate universe it may as well be a prequel to the Common Wealth books.
Wormholes linking colony worlds with earth? Check. Strange alien menace that most people do not believe exists? Check. Working class colonist family drawn into epic conspiracies? Check. Every character model from his other books is represented here. Police detectives, Ultra rich families, genetically modified women with uncertain morals. Nothing is left out. This author very clearly has a certain set of characters that he likes.
This however, is not a really a bad thing. He writes with clarity and humanity and the plot moved steadily, punctuated with bits of explosive action and violence that can erupt from out of the blue (literally) Again, if you have read his other books you know what I am talking about. If you haven't just keep in mind that if the book every starts getting boring just hold on for another chapter or two, before long there will be a massive alien attack or sun exploding just to mix things up.
It really is a good book, just not an innovative one. If you read a lot of sci-fi don't expect anything that you've never heard before, this is solid adventure but nothing mind bending.
It really is a shame that he didn't just market this as a prequel to his other books. The technology and culture is so similar to the history of the Commonwealth series I found it distracting and it made it hard to accept this universe as a separate than his others.
It also would have been nice to see him branch out a little and try something different but since I really liked his previous books I guess I can't complain when he writes more of the same.
The narration is somewhat hit and miss. The reader speaks with a strong british accent, which is appropriate for most of the characters, but not all of them. It would have been better if he had just stuck to that accent for all characters but unfortunately he attempts to speak with other accents when appropriate for the character. Some readers can pull this off, this one cannot. His American accent is so horrible its almost funny.
All in all the author paints a world that I would love to live in and which I have no trouble getting lost in for a few hours, even if it feels very familiar.
Unfortunately, this book is not really science fiction, or at least not the kind you normally expect from Larry Niven.
Taking place eleven years after the events in The Ringworld Engineers this book oddly is mostly about sex, and no, not romance but a kind of formalized inter-species ritual that all the the cultures on the ringworld seem to be obsessed with. They do it to seal trade negations, celebrate battle, or whenever they meet someone new.
Oh yeah, and vampires. Lots of vampires who emit a pheromone that makes everybody....you guessed it....want to have sex.
Now I don't mind sex and I don't particularly mind vampires but neither subject makes a good focus for what is supposed to be a hard sci-fi novel.
This really is a far cry from the the first book and very disappointing. I don't think I will continue with the series.
For some time I have been looking for a book that could live up to the possibilities presented by the steampunk genre and have largely been disappointed. While books such as Perdido Street station, Terminal World and Boneshaker have all had promise each one has failed to to both convey the technology and culture of a steampunk world while also being a good story in regards to the fundamentals of storytelling such as narrative flow and relatable characters.
The curious case of Spring Heeled Jack however is THE book that steampunks have been looking for and the perfect introduction to those new to the genre. It is both original and historical, filled with fantastic machines and creatures on par with the best alien worlds of fiction. There are characters of surprising depth and exciting action scenes both all set in an alternate "victorian" era. Unlike most alternate history fiction the changes in history here are not merely to suite the authors convenance but are an actual result of the story itself making this not so much an alternative history as it is a time travel epic. It manages to be fanciful without being too bizarre to relate to and unlike many authors of this genre this author remembers that no matter how interesting the world you create may be the characters must be the foundation of the story if we are to care at all about the plot.
The story unfolds first from the perspective of an man hired to investigate some of the stranger happenings in what from our perspective is a radically changed and bizarre world and then later from the point of view of a man from our future trying to deal with his own past and the changes that occurred to the timeline. It is in this second part of the story that this book truly shines when we listen with growing horror and fascination to the sequence of events that have lead to a 19th century england so different from our own.
Any fan of time travel will love this story and the classic paradoxes it copes with as will anyone who has studied the social and scientific changes of the victorian era and wondered, "what if"
At last steampunks have a book they can be proud to recommend as an example of the genre without an excuses or caveats to the fantasy or sci-fi fan.
Stephenson once again proves that he can write anything. Although this book is 180º from Anathem, which I loved, its manages to be just as good while being completely different in every way.
I've read a lot of books that use the premise of a Fantasy RPG somehow gaining real world significance but this book shows how you don't need the Matrix or a killer rogue AI to do this, MMORPGs already have real world significance, namely Gold Farming, the practice of accumulating in game gold and selling it for real world money. There is no magic technology at work in this book, just common everyday tech that kicks off a crazy sequence of events.
Of course, it doesn't end there. By the second download the story has chinese hackers, russian mafia, british spies and muslim terrorists all mixing in some of the most violent and intricately written action scenes I've ever read and reminiscent of Quentin tarrintino movies.
The twists this book take are amazing, you never know when a mundane "character" scene is going to literal explode into a murder, plane crash or gun battle.
Just like everyone else, I can't stand the narrator. He was passible in the first three books once you got used to him, the fourth book was a welcome relief (narrator wise) and now we have gone back and Roy is worse than ever.
Please audible, you surely are making enough money off this title, help out your loyal customers and have this one re-recorded by John Lee and send Roy Dotrice off to the Wall to Join the black. At this point its the only honorable way out for him after what he did to Dany and Cersies voices. This book is all but ruined by the narrator.
The book itself is 'okay' not what any of us hoped it would be but its tolerable, although I don't know if the excitement GRRM built up during the first three books is going to be enough to carry me to the end.
There really does seem to be come kind a disease that writers of epic fantasy get after their first two or three books that convinces them that the best thing for the story is for all the characters to spend two or three books sitting around and talking about how awesome they where in the first books while doing nothing whatsoever about the plot.
Maybe it is time to bring Brandon Sanderson in and save this series, or better yet, just let him get on with his other series which are far better than anything GRRM has ever put out.
There is one glimmer of hope, this is in truth the second half of book 4 and we all know that that one was screwed up by the publishers. If you have a kind heart you can choose to believe that this books is hampered by that massive mistake and that maybe things will get back to normal in book 6, if any of us live that long.
If you look at the print edition GRRM says at the end that this book was "a bitch" to write. A better author would have realized that if the book was that hard to write then something is wrong with it. Most authors will tell you that books should be as much fun to write as they are to read.
Report Inappropriate Content