A well-written fantasy/dystopia story for middle-grade readers. Samuel West is an excellent narrator. He interprets the story with wit and verve. All the characters, and there are many, are distinct and easy to recognize through his many subtle voice variations. Beautifully done.
I love Neil Gaiman, I really do, but I could not keep reading this. This is his "revised" version, which adds something like 20,000 more words to the narrative. Really. Too much. George Guidall is a good narrator and gamely tackles the often difficult text with strong characterizations and lively conversations, but it wasn't enough. I just found the story about demons and angels battling in the Midwest frustrating, weird and alienating.
I felt guilty giving up but I did. Life's too short. So sue me.
I'm a big Toby Stephens fan, so picked this because he is the reader. But I found I liked the story, too, which is set in a fantastical ancient world which may or may not be prehistoric Britain.
Michelle Paver is a popular British children's writer and this marks the start of a new series for her.
The plot zips along apace, with many cliff-hangers, figurative and literal. Altogether an entertaining read. I'll be looking for the sequels.
Philip Pullman reinterprets classic tales, some not as well known as others, with interesting results. The main problem here is the portrayal of males and females in condemning traditional roles. Girls are too often weak victims unable to think for themselves or they are conniving, evil witches; boys are rambunctious, impetuous and too quick to fight. These faults lie with the origin of the tales and not with Pullman, but you have to question his desire to retell such outmoded ideas in the first place. This is not to say that children shouldn't hear these stories. But it might be best to offer them in context and perhaps with gentle discussion about how we see people differently today.
Sam West does an amazing job, as always. He's a top-notch narrator. I love his voice.
We get Scots reading Scottish writers, English reading English writers and Americans reading Americans, so why not Canadians reading Canadians? Then at least we'd have someone who knows how to pronounce Canadian cities and towns. I cringed every time this narrator pronounced Montreal as MON-treal (American pronunciation), instead of Mun-tree-ALL (English Canadian) -- I was cringing a lot because the complex story has a plot twist that involves Quebec.
Narrator has quite a few goofs on place names, the worst being pronouncing the Ontario town of Guelph as "Gelf" instead of "GWelf." But he also had odd ways of saying perfectly ordinary words: "umbrellla" was UM-brella, and "coaxing" was co-AXE-ing. (Heard that one on my morning run and almost tripped in disbelief.) His general reading style is robotic and bizarre, like someone who doesn't understand punctuation. His inflection would suggest sentences had ended before they actually had, or he runs on in the same monotone as if a string of sentences were one long, single sentence. It goes on like this for 11 unabridged hours.
I've listened to more than 200 audiobooks over several years and I'm usually easy-going about the narration. But this one left me feeling irritated and cheated of a good story -- not to mention the price of a credit. I hate to sound dreary and mean, but I must say that I will never purchase another audiobook narrated by Christopher Prince.
Marc Strange is a good writer, with a keen sense of plot and interesting characters. His work deserves a better reading than this.
Toby Stephens, with his remarkable deep-throated voice and lively characterizations, almost makes this grating narrative palatable. But the character of Steve, the wife, is such a silly, stupid woman, it's embarrassing to any thinking reader. She cowers at danger, never understands what her husband Paul is thinking and hinders the investigation at almost every turn. What's worse, she gets drunk on one beer -- and she is supposed to be a former Fleet Street journalist! Compared to women in other crime-fighting duos of the 1930s and '40s, notably Nora Charles, Steve is a weak pill indeed.
Still, Toby Stephens... nice. The three stars are all for him.
This novel is a remarkable achievement. It is like looking at an intricately pieced quilt, one in which every thread has been braided by hand and dipped in liquid gold. Rarely have I read a novel in which even minor characters have rich, fully realized pasts and deep interior lives. The story is long, but Tolstoy is not wasteful with words. Every sentence tells. The narrator is lively, with a pleasant, soothing voice. I worried whether I would be able to stick with five 7-plus-hour takes, but I was sorry to see it end.
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