Like other reviewers I enjoyed the start of this book. But there is a major flaw in the universe that the book is asking us to believe in. All offensive magic, or magic that can cause harm to an individual is black magic. The problem this creates in the story and in the entire series is that the villain usually has to do himself in because the heroes of the story can't match the villain with any force.
The protagonist becomes a powerful wizard who cannot use his magic to fight - only to defend without returning force. This book is an origin story and I continued in the series because the end of this book has so much promise.
Ultimately though this series fell flat for me. I can respect a hero with restraint, but this is a hero who never finds his confidence, is unsure of who or what he fights for, and is ultimately a passive force that the story happens to.
I have read the first two books in the John Cleaver series and plan on getting the third. As a quick warning, I found this book to be much darker than the first book. And that is what makes this book difficult to recommend. I enjoyed it, but parts of it were difficult to get through.
I also wonder who the target audience for this series is. On its surface it appears to be a young adult series. It features a teenage protagonist dealing with the struggles of feeling cut off from his peers in his small town environment.
But the protagonist also deals with some very dark thoughts. He wrestles with his sexuality in the context of sociopathy and pyromania. This book also has extended scenes of torture and abuse that work in the context of the story and walk the line of becoming graphic and over the top.
Overall, this is an interesting series which raises mixed emotions in me.
There are many things about this story that bothered me and made it difficult for me to get into the story that may not bother you. I can be a bit of a nit-picker. If you also nit-pick plot points and book scenes then you might agree with me, but if those things don't bother you then you may find this a very enjoyable book.
First of all, I did not realize that this book was part of a series and that the title character is not the protagonist. The story actually features the Toymaker very sparingly. The protagonist is being introduced to the Toymaker as part of an extended origins story. So if you are looking for a tech-heavy book, this is more like a James Bond movie story. Q shows us the gadgets and then the hero uses some of them.
The action scenes are also written like movie scenes with characters being thrown in feet and yards by explosions, bullets, and shells. This annoys me because it lacks any realism. If movie style physics and ballistics don't bother you in books, then you may enjoy it more.
And finally, the characters in this book who are the best-of-the-best are rather incompetent. In one chapter, the heroes have tracked a bad guy to a boat and are able to take him completely by surprise, except that they screw up capturing the guy in a fairly spectacular manner.
Bottom Line: An interesting book with a Utopian vision of the future brought about by economic and violent revolution that just can't stand up to a basic understanding of economics.
Audiobooks can be tricky to review because sometimes connections aren't clear and it's easier to miss a key plot point. And so with that disclaimer I will admit that this book felt like it had a big chunk of story missing. I feel like I missed the part where the evil corporations made a deal with the evil government to become evil-er. Maybe it's just assumed that the government conspirators were already in cahoots with the corporate guys.
If you know something about economics, then this book will confuse you. It assumes that the market can sustain prices and growth - without demand for goods and services - just because a computer program is manipulating the stock market to make it happen. Since the setting of this book is very near future USA, this idea totally broke my suspension of disbelief and made the work harder to enjoy.
And that's what threw me about this book. What began as a very interesting plot and premise dissolved into technomancy and economic wizardry to make an ideological statement. The book ends by asking whether the ends of the story justify the means. The narrative provides a clear answer, but I just can't bring myself to accept the Utopian vision that the author leaves us with.
This book makes the case that good people can use theft and violence against bad people using theft and violence without being corrupted by the power they accumulate.
Hard Rain is the second novel in the John Rain series about a half-american, half-japanese assassin.
* Rain is still an anti-hero and that makes him an interesting protagonist. He has rules about the jobs he takes but he is willing to kill anyone that upsets him or that he perceives as a threat. This can make him unpredictable, which can be a good trait for an assassin to have.
* The book is well researched and the action scenes and internal dialogue are interesting.
* The pacing of the story is good. I understood who the antagonist was and what the larger picture was. I understood the overarching drama playing out in which Rain is more or less a willing pawn.
* This book is essentially the first book retooled. Characters from Rain Fall appear and provide (mostly) unsatisfying closure to the relationships formed in that book. But John Rain struggles with the same internal conflict from book one that I thought had been resolved at the end of book one.
* The 'romances' in these books are terrible. They feel rushed and obligatory and don't add anything to the story except dime-store titillation.
I'm not sure if I enjoyed Hard Rain.
I was hoping that John Rain's half-American, half-Japanese heritage would play more deeply into the story as well as provide interesting internal commentary. Sadly, his upbringing is only part of his back-story and doesn't greatly impact the story that is being told. The plot of the book has some international aspects, but all of the major developments occur within Japan, so there is no outlet for Rain's parentage to impact events.
John Rain is an ethical assassin, but he is not a moral hero. This makes Rain an interesting anti-hero. He is able to kill quickly, without the mercy or compassion that might dissuade other assassin heroes. He can and kill anyone he perceives as a threat even when he has no evidence that they are a threat. He can also kill wounded and disabled enemies whereas other heroes of the genre might show restraint.
Other parts of the story are pure convention, including a right-out-of-the-movies love scene that felt rushed and unnecessary. But Rain's commentary and the conflict kept the story moving and engaging.
Overall, I'm not sure what to think of Hard Rain. It didn't chase me off of the series, I plan to continue listening to the John Rain books because I like the character enough that I am curious about what happens to him. There is certainly enough there to keep me interested, I just hope that the future stories are as engaging as the character.
First off, let me say that I was expecting a space opera of sorts. A collection of stories about a larger than life, arrogant but charming, space hero. That's not what this is, but that's ok.
The protagonist of this collection is the female reporter collecting the stories that are presented. This approach works surprisingly well. But Sam Gunn is no space hero, and the major conflict of the story arc is very personal and relational. So son't expect an epic story here.
Rather, these are a collection of believable stories about a charming con-man who just barely manages to keep ahead of his problems. The stories are voiced by different readers who do a professional and respectable job.
Overall, Sam Gunn's personality began to wear thin with me, but as I mentioned earlier, the story is not really about Sam Gunn and there are well done surprises and a satisfactory conclusion to the collection.
As a fan of the Knights of the Old Republic video games I was hoping for a more Lucas-free story. However the author seems to take his cues from the movie prequels. Keep in mind that he may have access to story information not available to the rest of us from the upcoming MMO, so I can't judge too harshly on this point.
However the story is an attempt to bring the empire, the republic, and mercenaries into the same story to work together against a threat to the galaxy. While this might be an interesting quest in a game, it certainly isn't epic and has a hard time carrying the book.
The fact that the story is ultimately inconsequential to the Star Wars universe is also another reason it's hard to recommend this book.
Botton Line: If you like Star Wars, you'll make it through this story and you may even enjoy it. But if you're a fan of the two KOTOR games, you might have some problems with it.
This is a good collection of stories with a cohesive arc. The stories are interesting and held my attention, but some of the stories were less than subtle and a little heavy handed. In particular the final story that deals with a preacher replacing his faith in a divine plan with a faith in humanity. I cannot fault the author too much, characters in short stories are often 2 dimensional out of necessity, but some of the characterizations are a bit too easy. Other than that, I enjoyed this story and the performance of the Star Trek actors was thoroughly professional. Some of the best readings I have heard on audible are in this collection.
You will be promised a space battle between an advanced alien race and humanity for three long books, and the was will be covered by a couple of paragraphs in the very last chapter of the last book. Also, you will be told how important each of the main characters are, and how important the mission they are on is, but they are not important and do not resolve anything. I waited 3 books for the space battle, and was sorely disappointed. Ultimately these books felt like all the boring in between parts that authors like Peter F Hamilton skip.
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