Fascinating but with practical, useful information as well. As a neuroscience geek, I really enjoyed the book, especially its integrative approach with everything that's known about brain plasticity.
The narrator is excellent as well.
The book was an okay listen, bolstered by a strong (though in places annoying) performance by the narrator. It's what I would classify as a "beach read" if it were a physical book, although not a particularly good one at that.
Ultimately the story, characters, and world are not particularly interesting or original. This book falls into the usual traps of urban fantasy which are including everything but the kitchen sink (angels, devils, vampires, you name it), an anti-Hero Mary Sue main character, and the use of tons of goofy similes and superficial descriptions that confuse cliche with originality. Ultimately, all of the characters are pretty superficially developed, not particularly interesting, or just plain goofy. The dialog in many places is equally goofy, with the main character saying things that are supposed to be "cool" but are just ridiculous (e.g., when he torches a neo-Nazi enclave telling them "Don't $%^ with my doughnut shop."
The same goes for the plot - most of the book has a poorly developed plot that is is just a series of scenes that are strung together, interspersed with pointless filler (e.g., stealing and crashing the motorcycle). While the book does have a healthy dose of action scenes in it, even these are pretty unsatisfying since they generally revolve around the main character "doing something impulsive, getting injured, but still prevailing". If I had to use one word to describe the whole book it would be "juvenile."
My 9-year-old son and I listened to Leviathan on our daily commute. I thoroughly enjoyed it, while he loved it - so much so that he insisted we needed to listen to the second book in the series immediately afterward.
Having read/listened to a number of different urban fantasy novels over the past year, this was definitely amongst the most boring - neither the "mystery" nor action was particularly compelling, and most of the the supernatural elements weren't interesting in the least - either they were predictable (i.e., the werewolves and their aggression problems), cliche (i.e., the "good" vampire amongst the hunters), or gimmicky (i.e., the vampire with the VW microbus).
This book starts slowly and seems very disjointed (it's like 5 unrelated stories are being told as each of the main characters is introduced over the first 2/3 of the book's length) but it begins to pick up pace about midway and by the end it's clear that there's a far larger tale to be told in upcoming books.
Very minor spoiler: The scene at the end with 9-Fingers is awesome as it finally becomes clear why he's called the "Bloody Nine" throughout the book.
I thought this was the weakest of the books I've listened to so far; the case just isn't terribly compelling, the reveal is not particularly exciting, and the action is pretty predictable. It's becoming apparent that all of the major characters have complete plot immunity and thus no one feels like they're at risk irregardless of what's going on in the book. Worse yet, the list of characters with such immunity is growing with each book (we're now up to Harry, Murphy, Thomas, Ramirez, all of the Carpenters, Marcone & his bodyguards, Butters, Mouse, the Alphas....).
I'm also quickly growing tired of the repetitive expositions about Harry's personality and the rules of the world, all of which by this time have been covered ad nauseum in earlier books: At some point either the author or his editors should realize that virtually no one is picking up the book series this far along.
The narrator continues to be quite good although at times he seems to over-exaggerate Harry's dialog.
Both I and my 7-year-old son found the book almost painfully boring: Very little happens through much of it, the narrator's voice tends to be flat, and the lack of pauses between changing characters makes it very hard to follow at times. Having listened to over two dozen audio books with my son on our morning commute, this is the first one he's not liked at all.
It reminds me quite a bit of the Tommyknockers but is much better written. Overall, the book itself is very enjoyable - the ensemble cast of characters (which is quite large) are all interesting, distinct, and instantly identifiable. I'd give the contents of the book 4 out of 5 stars.
Why is my rating 5 stars then? The narrator. This is the first book I've listened to by Raul Esparza but he's easily one of the best narrators I've ever listened to - he manages to do all kinds of very distinct voices and accents that make the characters (and there are a lot) instantly identifiable. In addition, some of the "voices" he does are perfect (at least for me) for the charcters - Big Jim is absolutely perfect; Junior and Andy Sanders similarly. Great, great stuff.
I had high hopes for the book based on the description but it was a disappointment. The main character is an annoying caricature of a modern day southern belle which is less believable than the existence of the supernatural faeries in the story. I think I was tired of her by about the 3rd time she described her wardrobe, her underwear, or her make-up... unfortunately those sorts of passages continue throughout the book. I honestly could careless if she was wearing a matching pair of peach panties when she went to bed. To call her personality annoying would be putting it mildly.
The ending is completely unsatisfying - it neither solves the mystery nor ends on a cliffhanger that leaves me wanting to know more.
One positive thing I can say is that the narrator did a good job.
Although it's a bit dated at this point (at least in terms of technology), the story is still excellent and well-worth the time.
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