As a parent, it is so easy to see how this wonderful novel could happen in real life - - a rare feat for a novel. Careful reading too many reviews - - I got a terrible spoiler as I was deciding about whether to purchase this one, so just let me urge you to buy it. It's a real honest assessment of a family at the nadir of their lives.
The thing I really like about Daniel Suarez is it makes me feel like all the science classes actually stuck instead of simply drifting out of my head once I graduated. I have NO CLUE if even a speck of what he calls science is true, but I don't care - - I feel scientific just listening to him.
The good parts are that this book has a really smart premise, and the ability to make the far fetched seem plausible. The science part is brilliant. The plot is okay, again, simple but clever and executed well. The problem is that his characters are not what you would call multi-dimensional, truthfully they're rather stereotypical. But even with that the story does move along, but it isn't a page turner...it's a good yarn. And it's almost too easy to see the movie adaption of this one coming to a theater near you. Maybe I'm getting cynical, but if you've had the opportunity to read Daemon -- a great but complex book that I can't see ever being filmed -- this will seem much more straight forward almost as if to make it more easily adaptable (and yes, I hear the curmudgeon in my voice....). Even with the flaws, it's worth spending the credit if only to encourage the producers to get good actors to take on the roles.
I didn't think I liked this book so much, until it was over. I missed it terribly! Like you would miss the day-old cake you ate that was dry around the edges or the watered down drink that was quenching your thirst. Simply, there was much to like and much I didn't quite get. The likes were the narrators, and the mothers of the two sets of sisters who were complicated yet true to their natures. Some wonderful subtleties about the nature of the time and that abolition and equality were very distant from one another. The physical and mental punishmensts heaped out were described brilliantly and made me wince more than once.
But, I had a more difficult time with many of the sub-plots that just felt like they were thrown in for historical accuracy. The entire Denmark/Charlotte/insurrection part just didn't seem to fit, the details of the Quaker life was interesting but unimportant and the strange bond supposedly shared by Sarah and brother Thomas just didn't seem true to life.
I'm very pleased that the author based it on historical fact, but felt like doing so interfered with the flow of the story. In any case, even with such criticisms, this book is worth the credit and serves as a reminder of how this country came to be. And as a reminder that compromising our principles for expediency is truly the coward's way out.
This book takes a long time to finish, a long time to care about, and is slow to build. But even after all of that criticism, I must say I liked it. I confess that much of the reason was sharing a common youth and adulthood enables a shortcut for getting to relatable emotions. I remember many of the anxiety provoking things these characters go through so it felt as if we were going through it together.
While I avoided the "artsy" people in high school almost as much as I avoided the stoners and the preppies, it was fun to see how that small group might have turned out had they actually had talent and a leader. The characters are really complete, multi-dimensional, and with a few exceptions, not stereotypes. My only real criticism was the rather thrown together ending that you knew had to come. But, nostalgia is fun, so if you're over fifty, enjoy. Much younger than that and you may want to keep on truckin' (and if you have no idea what the heck that means, you should DEFINITELY find another book!).
We all know Grisham: a definitive plot, at least one protagonist that we can relate to, and a couple of colorful sidekicks. This sequel (we're reminded again and again of the book we all read a decade ago) is elevated by an absolutely wonderful narration that is never condescending and characters that are ridiculously easy to identify. I'm not sure if it because of familiarity with the material or just plain talent, but Michael Beck is pitch perfect in delivering the over the top characters and amazingly restrained with the more shy and less flamboyant. Just really well done. Oh yeah, and the book is pretty good, too.
I don't always have to have happy endings and triumphs, but I do need to have characters I care about (whether good or bad). This was just gruesomeness from three areas: a meandering unfocused plot, really poor narration (that was probably intended to follow the dour nature of the story), and savage assaults on women and children. I am an Amy Tan fan and stuck with this far longer than I would had it been any other author, but ultimately this had very little redemption. I cannot justify recommending this to someone other than people with a strong stomach and a desperate need to say they've read all of Tan's works. Very disappointing.
Fans of the series, here is another book that will strengthen our friendship with the people we've come to know and love. This series has become that wonderful annual conversation you have with the closest of friends that you don't see often, but have strong feelings for.
This is not a series where you can start in the middle, it requires you to put in the time to get to know the players and the rhythm of the narrator - - who is marvelous. This story is slightly less family-friendly than some of the others, so a slight note of warning if you're listening with small ones. Otherwise, just sit back and enjoy the trip back to Botswana.
I love when a book feels like a warm bath followed by a fluffy robe and hot chocolate. Fannie Flagg writes those kind of stories that are just grounded enough in tragedy and misfortune to make the triumph feel even more joyful at the end. This one includes a fascinating, but little known, historical context that makes it even more fulfilling. As always, patience is required for a Fannie Flagg book, the story never runs forward, it meanders as you get to know the main characters who are always Southern women through and through. So, when you're ready to slow down a bit and dedicate some time, this is the book to pick up.
Malcom Gladwell makes me a smarter person. With every book there is a new explanation of what is commonly understood as a universal fact - - that he convincingly explains is just plain wrong. With this book, I've learned that being "disadvantaged" may be my strategic advantage. Very cool.
As a narrator, Gladwell comes well armed with research and facts, but delivers it in such a cool and calm low-key way, that as he's explaining how silly you've been for believing what seems like common sense, it's not one bit insulting.
Be prepared to revel in being "the underdog" and in discovering that giants really aren't that scary.
I hesitated at first because I really don't need a comedian, even an excellent one like Crystal, to tell me what aging feels like. This is much, much beyond that. Truly laugh out loud funny and surprisingly poignant, the decades of Billy's life are full of colorful (and often famous) characters that will fascinate you if you're acquainted with them or not. Yes, there are the old guy jokes, and they're funny, but it's when he's playing straight man to what is happening to him and around him when this book really zings. This is a book that you should NOT read on paper (or screen), but listen to performed by a master joker. Great fun.
I confess that all I knew about this novel was the premise before I downloaded it. The idea of people coming back from the dead was such a lofty notion I was completely intrigued, so I didn't listen to the "prequels" I went straight to the book. And I just loved it. It's a homespun tale told from the point of view of real people trying to take an incomprehensible idea and having to live it out with all the day-to-day consequences of their actions. I admire a writer who doesn't feel the need to have everything sewn into neat packages, who has good and bad guys that aren't easily discernable and who deals with the human-ness of our decisions rather than trying to teach a great moral lesson. This is one of those great books that with each section you have to stop and think: what would I do? - - how would I feel?
If you've had the experience of having loved and lost someone, if you're willing to let yourself go (which isn't an easy thing to do), you can get lost inside what these characters are feeling. That's always the sign of a master writer - - and this guy is a great storyteller.
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