Travelers Rest, SC, United States | Member Since 2004
This is one of those stories that are FULL of FANTASTIC twists and turns! It's also NOT one of the types of books that has a slow beginning and eventually builds up into a good book; Jeff Carlson tosses you directly into the action of a good book right from the start! I dislike books that I have to suffer through a very slow first half to get to a great second half (I always feel like I'm buying "half a book" when I see a review that says, "Slow start, but hang with it and it get's better"), so this book was especially REFRESHING!
The skill that was put into the story is evident in many ways, very early on... despite the very fast start in the action, I never once felt confused about "Who was who". Also, being an Engineer, I always seem to notice technical flaws in a book when they pop up from time to time... but Carlson did his research so well, and seems to be so knowledgeable about the subject matter, that I never once got yanked out of "Book Trance" by a bad technical detail!
Knowing that this was a "First contact book" early into the story, I (as everyone does) started thinking of all the tiny bone-headed things *I* might do wrong during contact with a new civilization that thinks TOTALLY differently from how we think (while hoping the new hypothetical civilization has "patience" for my mistakes)... Carlson takes that whole idea MUCH further!!! What if WE have to make first contact, and we do it on a world that is so TOTALLY different from ours, that our most natural gestures are WRONG in their view? And what THEY naturally do seems to be WRONG in OUR view? And of course, while worrying about the above, throw in that you're doing it "while contacting a species that has almost NO patience with mistakes, and who have no way of understanding US, or that we may even be from another world"... Forget the old common routine of: "don't smile because showing your teeth might be taken as aggression"... And while going far beyond something simple like that, be sure to write the book from the point of view of a sex opposite from your own, and get the details of how THEY think correct also!
I love books that make you THINK along with the author, learn new things, and give you even more mental tools to help you think "out of the proverbial box" (Tools we usually promptly put INTO our mental tool-BOX ;)
The only down-side to this book was the audio quality... I usually download the "Enhanced" Audio Quality of each book and let it auto-download into my iPhone. The Audio quality of this selection was scratchy and slightly distorted at times, HOWEVER the Story and Narration were AWESOME! I don't know if the Audio quality was from the recording, or if I just noticed it so badly because the Enhanced Format allows you to hear every flaw... Kinda like listening to a song of a favorite older music group that has been transferred onto digital media from the original (old) Studio Tapes (even though this is a newer book)... Or maybe I just somehow got a bad download (I guess it could happen)...
Whatever the reason for the bad sound quality, it's gets a bit better, and "The STORY" is what's important! I got so wrapped up in the story that I didn't notice the sound quality any more.
As is always the case when finishing a great book, "I wish there was a second book"!
I had listened to the entire "Legacy Of The Aldenata" series EXCEPT for "Yellow Eyes" (The Panamanian Perspective) and this book ("Watch On The Rhine", The German Perspective).. I skipped these two books initially because many reviewers said that they didn't add a lot to the Series as a whole, and it seemed to me that a lot of people were just skipping over these two books, so I skipped them also to get straight back to the Main Story Lines in the later books in the series ... I know, I know, Like your Mom used to say, "If everyone else jumped off a Bridge, would you jump off too"? WELL OF COURSE I WOULD (and HAVE.. Bridge Day in West Virginia.. uhhh on second thought, let's not discuss that)...
Anyway, When you listen to as many books a month as I do, for as many years as I have, you tend to run out of books that seem to interest you pretty quickly... It also seems to me that once GOOD authors start making money, they seem to just quit writing as much (until they need money again), so I find I go through long periods of "Book Slumps" where I can't find anything that interests me.... During one such Book Slump, I went back and picked up "Yellow Eyes" and found that I enjoyed it A LOT... Since I enjoyed Yellow Eyes, I figured maybe I'd enjoy Watch on the Rhine also (Hey, "It's Ringo", how far wrong can you go?)
It's a decent book. Not nearly as good as the rest of the books in the series, and it seems to wander in places, but it did hold my attention pretty well... I had to back up a few times and try to get some events straight in my mind, some parts seemed to be just "Stuck in the book as filler" with no real purpose otherwise, but after I finished it, I came away wishing there were MORE books left in the Aldenata series (and then getting bummed by knowing that there aren't any more books in the series to listen to now)...
...and I just had a feeling that if the Earth was desperate enough to "Rejuvenate Very Old Soldiers" to fill the ranks needed to fight the war, that SOME of the Rejuves in the German Forces were GOING to be Hard-Corp Nazis, with a hidden agenda to bring back "the Glory Days of the Master Race" now that they're young again... Yep, knew that was coming... HOWEVER, Ringo handled that VERY touchy and sensitive subject VERY well!! I was impressed with his handling of the problem, especially since Ringo doesn't mind "offending delicate sensibilities" just for the Sheer Joy of doing it.. which is one reason I like his work so much.. Life isn't always fair, the righteous don't always win, the bad guys don't always "Get what's coming to them", Crime OFTEN DOES Pay, etc... that's just the real world, and Ringo seldom shies away from pointing those facts out, and using them in his books.
As many other reviewers pointed out, Watch On The Rhine doesn't add a lot to the LONG Aldenata Series, and you don't miss out on much (if anything) if you skip it while listening to the rest of the series, but it's an enjoyable read even as just a "Stand Alone" book based in the Universe of the Aldenata
While listening to the original LONG series of books, I decided to skip this book since I didn't think I'd be all that interested in the "Panamanian perspective"... I'm glad I went back and picked it up (WELL after I finished the rest of the series)... It's every bit as good as the rest of the books!!
I don't think I've ever used the words "Betrayal", "Ultimate Hardship", and "Fun", together, but I can't think of any other way to describe this book. I RARELY give out 5 Stars, but I have given several to Joe Abercrombie recently! While I prefer Military Sci-Fi, I have followed the world of Joe Abercrombie for quite a while now, and just can't stop!
"Emotional Roller-Coaster" doesn't begin to describe this ride! The twists and turns, betrayals, and "Philosophy", are NOT something most of us are used to dealing with, even if you've lead a hard, Body-Breaking, life of your own. "Common Decency" is NOT Common in Abercrombie's World ;)
If you've followed the various series of these books, and "Wanted More", this is a VERY good story to pull together many of the loose ends from previous books, while also being a Stand-Alone book quite nicely... This book answers several unanswered questions from the previous books in the Series of this Universe, while telling a new and raw story all it's own.
If you put a lot of stock in the traditional values of Honor, Loyalty, Duty, Morales, etc, then you're in for a rude awakening ;) I found myself several times thinking "HOW could you POSSIBLY expect there to be 'another side' to what happened???", and then you are given the other side, and think "Well, yeah, I guess that makes sense too".. It's a bloody, emotional, backstabbing, War-Raging, ride!!! I don't normally give out 5 Stars, but I HAD to on this book!
I just can't say enough good about the skill of the Writer, or the Narrator... What a team! I waited for this book for a long time, and it was absolutely worth the wait! Even WAY above my expectations! Jack Campbell seems to LEAP forward with his writing skill with each new book! VERY Well Crafted from Start to Finish! Another "Couldn't Stop Listening Book" that left me sleepless last night!
Be sure to read the first book in the series, Mr Campbell doesn't spend much effort on "Catching up a new reader on past events", which I think is the way it should be!
The EIGHTH book in this series and I still couldn't stop listening until it was finished! I listened to it straight through! THAT is the way to write a series!!!
I was impressed with the way Mr. Larson finished the book too... It could be a "Solid Ending", OR it could continue!
WAY TO GO LARSON!!!!
I've read about everything "Sci-Fi" that Drake has written as far as I know, but I wouldn't have EVER guessed Drake wrote this one if his name hadn't been on it... What's with the sudden use of 5-dollar words, tossed in seemingly at random?
"...he said... avuncularly.."
I like David, in the past I've talked with him quite a few times when he wandered into book stores in which I was shopping in North Carolina, he's a heck of a nice guy! He's smart and well spoken, I don't know what happened with this book.
If you follow me, you know I HATE bashing narrators, it has to be pretty bad to make me comment on the narration negatively, but the reader just drones on and treats even the (few) action scenes like he's reading a happy Fairy Tale to a 5-Year Old at bed time... it's "Flat" to say the least.
While reviewing books, many reviewers often comment, "You have to suffer through X-Amount of this book to finally get to the great part...", this is one of those books from what I've heard, but I just feel like I've paid to suffer. There are many great authors that can start a series without the listener having to "suffer through character development", they're outstanding authors who WILL get (quite a lot of) my money... Drake is usually in this category, but this book just doesn't qualify. I buy books to enjoy, not to suffer through huge parts, and then spend MORE money to continue the series on the hope that it really DOES "get better next time".
I kid you not, I bought this book back in 2008, and I've spent FOUR YEARS trying to finish it without drifting off to sleep during each chapter... This time, I made a POINT of listening to the entire thing, no matter what... I hate to say it, but my overall opinion on it still hasn't changed.
Book 4 just got WAY too silly for me.. I actually found myself getting so irritated during the "Anime Field Effect" segments, and the "Guitar and Singing" Segments, that I just started fast forwarding to try to get through the absolute silliness.
The narration was done as good as humanly possible, despite the material that Ganser had to read.
This was a good listen, but I kept having to use the "30 Second Reverse Button" on my iPhone to keep up with who was talking, and what was going on... The Narrator seemed to sometimes just say the name of the ship when switching characters without enough of a pause to let you know the people/species talking were about to change... and it seemed like there was a LOT of Character/Race/Species Switching going on that I kept missing.
What may have confused me more was that I had just finished listening to John Ringo's second book in the "Looking Glass Series", "Vorpal Blade", and the two stories were so similar that I kept getting "What was going on in THIS book" confused with "What had happened in Books 1 & 2 of Ringo's Looking Glass Series"...
The similarities included throwing out the same Sci-Fi Movie Quotes at every chance (which I don't mind, it's cute sometimes), and the name "Vorpal" was in Currie's Book also, as well as about the same plot of a "Cobbled Together Faster-Than-Light Spaceship", and a lot of other things that kept causing me to sub-consciously think of the Ringo Series, and then realize that the Plot and Characters in THIS book were different... at that point, when I realized I didn't have a clue who was talking or what was going on, I'd have to back WAY up again and concentrate on listening.
Even though it wasn't a book that I could just listen to "kinda on Autopilot", and it took a LOT of concentration to keep up (Again, some of that may have been MY Fault, since I was in the middle of Ringo's series at the time), once I finished it and "let it settle in my mind", I DID highly enjoy this book in the "Odyssey One" Series. I may go back in a few months and listen to it over again, to make sure I give the story the attention it deserves without constantly thinking about Ringo's books at the same time.
This series is very hard to rate for me. I think I've "read" everything Ringo has written when it comes to Sci-Fi (and Pseudo-Fantasy), but this series, while obviously "Ringo-Ish" was just different from what I'm used to. I bought the book some time ago, and within the first 3 hours I had to put it down as "Just too plain silly to finish". Recently I tried listening to it again during a "Book Slump" when I couldn't find anything that seemed to catch my eye, and this time I just gutted-on through it.
At the finish, I immediately came to Audible and bought book 2... and then book 3, and just now got book 4.
The Books have some "just plain silly parts" scattered through them, and a Metric TON of quips and quotes from just about every major Sci-Fi movie made, but I walked away from each book wanting to continue on with the series ASAP, and I found myself with my ear-buds in while working around our ranch, and I also missed a lot of sleep listening to the books in bed... Can't ask for much more than that I guess!
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.