As you've probably seen in the other reviews, this novel centers around the life of an understudy actor. Not being an actor myself, the main thing I noted to identify with the character is that he's rather an underachieving slacker who seems to be in one of those "life slumps" that comes to most of us Gen-X'ers (30-somethings) at some point in our lives.
The difference here is the character is thoroughly likeable. He's a "nice guy" but not in that irritating way. It seems so many novels focus on outlandish characters or people who are unrealistically over-achieving. Or conversely, tragically underachieving to the point of Nil. But the whole tale has a "realistically optimistic" feel that I've only experienced previously in Nick Hornby novels like High Fidelity, About a Boy, and Long Way Down (all excellent, btw). At the end, you really want to know what happens to this guy, Stephen McQueen, in the future.
I won't go too deeply into the plot, but suffice it to say that there is romance, refreshingly from the male perspective. Conflict of dramatic effect and timing. Angst and very slight touches of despair. The character portrayals are consisten, realistic, and very well done. While Stephen is tame but lovable, he's surrounded by a cast that puts him in sharp contrast to good effect. The whole affair moves along pretty smartly... moreso as the story progresses. I thought the pacing was well done
British humo(u)r is present in excellent doses throughout and really makes for a wonderful experience. Frequently I found myself laughing out loud with a big grin across my face. Isn't that what we want from a book like this?
I really want to give this 4.5 stars because it's not QUITE up to the level of High Fidelity or About a Boy, but I'll give it 5 since that's not an option. Definitely worth a listen. Oh, and the quality of the narration is wonderful, too.
What a great book! In addition to numerous interesting examples of the "power" of split second decision-making and time slicing, there is a reasonable discussion of the negative or dangerous aspects of the blink response. That is extremely valuable in everyday use in business and personal life and I've already found it to be immensely useful. Trusting those instincts is a valuable proposition, and knowing when NOT to do so is equally so.
I'm a bit surprised by the negative reviews, but most of those seem to be related to the length of the book. Personally, I thought the length of the book was reasonable and in no way excessive. The voice skills were also fine.
Wherever you go on the net, you are likely to see two totally disparate reviews of this book. If you are totally invested in the typical environmentalist dogma, you will not like this book, because it discusses the possibility that the current environmentalist dogma is largely rhetoric-based and sensationalist. If you can keep an open mind, you'll find this an entertaining book much in the same vein of the other Creighton novels. Entertaining plot, world-traveling, adventure, etc. Worth the read, IMHO.
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