I'm a fan of zombie/vampire/plague fiction, and this book was a real surprise. I enjoy "trash fiction" (and I use that term not as a pejorative), but "The Passage" aims so much higher. It's what any good book novel should be--about people. The environment, the ravening monsters--they're all in here, but are rightly second to the characters.
This was a pleasant surprise. Five unrelated sci-fi combat novellas which I could intersperse between other books. I enjoyed all five stories, although some much more than others. I found the stories toward the end of the collection to be the strongest, which I always appreciate.
I enjoyed the different styles and the authors' respective takes on the genre. These are good fun, not too heavy, but by no means fluff.
The narration is great.
I don't want to be too harsh in my review, because 1) there's still a lot that's done right in this book, and 2), other readers/listeners might not be put off by the same aspects of the work I was.
I liked the premise: an unspeakable evil has reawakened to victimize a small, relatively isolated community, preying on the community's most vulnerable members: children. G Wayne Miller writes well, and the book's overall outline/plot arc is entertaining, if overlong.
However, none of the characters in the book is particularly well-drawn out (in fact, two relatively minor characters are inexplicably given more detailed backgrounds than most of the principles). Moreover, I found several of the main characters to be fairly unlikable, although I don't believe that's the author's intention..The protagonist in particular seems to be kind of a jerk, waging a not-so-private war with his ex-wife (a nasty piece of work herself) at the expense of their daughter. But at the worst, their seemed to be no life to these characters.
And one VERY big complaint I have, which is no fault of either the writer or the narrator, is that the audio production is very sloppy in places. This ranges from weird buzzing sounds after chapters (tolerable), to long (maybe 45 seconds or so) periods of silence (not too cool) to the volume actually going out for a few seconds and then coming back as if a volume knob had been lowered and then raised, interrupting the text (unacceptable).
River of Darkness exceeded my expectations. I thought I was buying a detective yarn, where a brilliant detective would be paired against a wily and diabolical killer, chasing clue after clue until finally piecing together the mystery. And make no mistake, those elements are strong throughout the book, but at the same time, RoD offers quite a bit more.
Like all the best stories, this is really about living people, not murders. This is somewhat ironic, given that when we first meet him, the protagonist is a man in many respects already dead. Set just a few years after WWI, the echoes of that terrible conflict are still very much present in the world of "River." It seems to stain combatants and non-combatants alike, men and women both.
Despite the grisly subject matter and the sense of ennui that seems to surround so many of the characters when we first meet them, this is ultimately a positive, redemptive book.
If you haven't read the 4 previous "Joe Ledger" books (plus a number of short stories), you'd be well-served to check them out first. There's a reason this series has reached (so far) five volumes.
This book is the most ambitious in terms of scope, and hints at developments in future books. "Extinction Machine" is also a refreshing departure from the previous books in that, even with an omniscient narrator, we're not really sure what's going on until the end, and then only maybe.
Maberry likes to punish his characters, and in this installment especially so. "Extinction Machine" is definitely the darkest book so far in the series.
As always, Ray Porter's narration is spot-on.
Compared to many of my friends, I didn't even watch MTV that much growing up, but as an adult so many years later, I'm constantly reminded of the network's influence on my life. In a way, this warts and all oral history is like becoming reacquainted with an old friend as an adult, and understanding that person in an entirely new way.
There's a lot of fun behind-the-scenes stuff--excess, decadence and lots of embarrassing hair.This book kept my interest throughout. I was impressed with the wide array of industry figures (including quite a few artists) cited in this book. I also appreciated the wide variety of opinions the authors chose to illustrate controversial (or at least contentious) subjects.
The narration is great, and perhaps most satisfying, the question "Why doesn't MTV play videos any more?" is examined with care.
This well-written, well-researched book could be of interest to anyone who is a fan of pop culture. But to a child of the 80s, this is very close to being a "must-listen."
Readers should first check out Tregellis' "Bitter Seeds," the first installment in this series.
'The Coldest War' is everything a reader could hope for in the second book in a series--it answers some questions while posing a great many more, and leaves the reader emotionally aching and desperate for resolution.
These first two books are woven together nicely. So intricate are their connections, in fact, that I'm thinking of re-listening to the first book, so that I can appreciate it with a taste of foreknowledge. The Coldest War seems much darker than Bitter Seeds, and in many ways more mature,
If you enjoyed Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War will be a winner.
I am not a regular mystery reader, and picked this up on sale based on the strength of the recommendations. I'm very glad I did.
I usually enjoy George Guidall's narration, and he seems especially well-suited to this book. I thought his Native American accents were distinct and recognizable, but subtle enough not to be intrusive or hokey.
There's a good mystery in this story, but it was really secondary to me in my enjoyment of the book. I found the diverse cast of characters to be refreshing--deeply flawed in many cases, but inherently understandable. Johnson (and many of his characters) often seems able to see people in a unique, and almost non-judgmental way. It evokes a surprising sympathy for his characters, and allows the reader to understand them in ways that simple lines of exposition could never do.
Also, I like books with a well-defined sense of place. Johnson's mythical county is absolutely believable, and can be roughly located on a map. Imaginary or not, it is a rich and real world full of wonderful characters. I'll definitely get around to reading more in this series.
I picked up Island 731 expecting an action-packed B-Movie that would keep me coming back for more. That's exactly what I got.
I enjoyed this book. The narration is great and well-paced. As some other reviewers have pointed out, the characters aren't especially well-developed, but I wasn't expecting some moving treatise on the human condition--I was looking for thrills & chills. This book has them.
I think if you're someone who read the synopsis of this book and thought, "This sounds interesting," then it's a pretty safe bet Island 731 is for you.
I was hesitant to buy this book based on the tepid reviews I'd read. When I finally did listen to it, I wondered what took me so long. I really enjoyed this book, and the varying takes on modern vampires.
This book is skillfully rendered, and despite the many voices and authors, manages to remain thematically consistent throughout. V Wars avoids the typical "good-guy/bad-guy" dynamic, and raises a number of thought-provoking issues.
What I liked about this book was what I found lacking in books like World War Z--character. This book is first and foremost about people surviving in a difficult time, not about monsters. One of the best genre books I've read in some time. Give it a try.
At times this book was tough to listen to, but it was never uninteresting. Written by a journalist who spent a year with an army unit based in some of Baghdad's toughest neighborhoods, this is a mostly first-hand account of the US "Surge" in the Iraq War. Because it is so personal, what we see of the Surge is not the "big picture" we're so used to seeing, but rather, we see the storm from its eye. It is a sobering view.
Boyett's narration is great. Finkel is a very gifted writer, but he sometimes can't resist a clever turn of phrase or overly poetic language (not by any means poorly done, but somehow distracting here) which can occasionally be a disservice to his book.
Of course, there is no book or work of art that can fully convey the horror and heroism of armed conflict, but "The Good Soldiers" does an excellent job. Finkel is unsentimental and unflinching, but still manages to convey a bit of his own humanity.
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