I wish I could rate this at 4.5 stars. It falls a bit short of 5 stars, but deserves better than a 4 star rating.
A must read for anyone following the series. But if you're following the series, you know you'll read this book eventually.
While the book before this (One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing) occurs almost completely in the book world, this one occurs almost completely in the real Thursday's world. The story was interesting throughout, and narration was perfect. I don't usually listen to an audiobook again immediately after finishing it, but this one was interesting enough that I did so, and managed to pick up some nuances I missed the first time around.
I would not recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read the Thursday Next series before, however. I started with one of the books in the middle and it took a while figuring out what was going on. Start with the first book for maximum enjoyment.
The books are obviously set in the same universe, but the similarities end there. The main difference is in the characters.
In Frank Herbert's books, the characters are complicated, different, intelligent, has motives that only become clear over time. I've read all the books of the new series up to Battle of Corrin, skipped over a few, then came to this one. The characters are simple, they don't think through what they do, their motives are blatant, and the things they do seem to be only to add drama to the book. There is not a single character I like. I had hoped that the character development has improved between Battle of Corrin and this book, but I was disappointed.
The story itself is not bad, entertaining, and the narration performance is good. I bought this audiobook because I had hoped for more interesting stories in the Dune universe, but halfway through the book, I really want to go back and re-read Dune to remind myself why I like it so much.
Be aware that you absolutely need the second part (All Clear) as just about nothing is revealed in this book. This review applies to both books.
I've read the first two books, and one thing that struck me was that the two of them are very different. These two books have a bit of each of those two. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes keep me at the edge of my seat. The storytelling is compelling and the characters very likeable. Being a time travel story, the storyline is not necessarily in chronological order, and occasionally it takes a while for me to see how it fits together, but fit it does.
If I have one criticism, it is that the story tries too hard to mislead the reader. We're being led to a conclusion, a cliffhanger, then the story switches to another character's viewpoint. It's a style, some like it, it just happens that I'm not overly fond of it.
There are several very touching moments, and while I don't know how accurate is the description of life in London during the Blitz, it fills me with admiration for those who lived during that time. And I want so bad now to see London to see some of the places described, especially St Paul's Cathedral. Google Maps Street View just doesn't cut it :)
One final observation, the autiobook played back at 1.5x gives the narration a bit of sense of urgency, and did not make it harder to follow along for me.
Definitely an enjoyable book and a great performance.
Great story! It may not be entirely original, but it is very well written, with a good dose of humor thrown in. The only weakness is that the characters share a bit too much characteristics between them. The narration is also great, and adds a lot to the enjoyment. I didn't realize that Wil Wheaton was the narrator when I listened to it the first time. It's funny that he's the one narrating this book - I can't think of someone more appropriate to perform this than the actor who used to play a character in Star Trek.
It's a very gripping story, but I felt the best part was the narration by Simon Vance that really goes very well with the feel of the story.
There's two things that I didn't particularly care for. It reminds me too much of Unseen Academicals, and there are unnatural pauses (probably from recording from different sessions) in Stephen Briggs' otherwise excellent narration - and that is a problem with the production rather than the narration. Despite that, I found it very enjoyable.
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