After the big build-up and big letdown of "1Q84", and the lackluster storyline of "Stolen Prey", it was VERY refreshing to find a book with a perfect blend of raw action, emotion, and mystery. Like the other reviewers, I didn't want to stop listening. Gregg Hurwitz never lets up! I've grown so tired of reading books (and even watching movies) with little-to-no conflict. Undercover agents, Colombianas, and average Joes turned superhero assassins where their biggest challenge is a fight sequence with a "final boss" that lasts more than three minutes. Boring... As soon as the characters in this novel make it out of one situation, they're knee deep in another. And Hurwitz writes in such an enthralling way that I found myself "worried" for the safety of the characters. Normally I'm left wanting and wishing for some... ANY type of harm or compromising situation to be unleashed upon a main character just so they can have an obstacle to overcome. For once in a long time I've been satiated; even left imploring for Mike's success, and I couldn't be more satisfied.
On another note, the narrator did annoy me at first. I couldn't get adjusted to his cadence and grave tone for any non-dialogue text. That was, until I listened to a sample of Audible's other listing of this book by a different author (they've since removed it, but he was horrible). Scott Brick grew on me, and his voice differentiation was pretty good, especially with Shep. I couldn't get enough of Shep's voice! It perfectly portrayed the dangerous, yet listless expression of his character.
I did have trouble following Hurwitz's action scenes sometimes though. I like his descriptive wording and how he shows instead of tells (unlike the action sequences in an awful James Patterson novel), but I'm not sure if it was because of Brick's reading or what. I had to rewind the hospital scene a couple of times. And I don't know why people are complaining about gratuitous violence. They must have stopped watching TV after 1996. This book's action has nothing too over-the-top, is certainly plausible, and so gripping that at times I found myself talking back to the speakers in my car. Do not pass this one up!
*Exasperated sigh* What a tedious listen. As soon as the mystery starts to get interesting, the author drops the mysterious element by revealing the villains/conspirators, then attempts to throw the reader off again by introducing another problem/mystery, then another, then another, then another, to the point that you no longer care who did what, you just want the book to end. It also seemed poorly written, repeating various words and phrases: EVERYONE in this book was in danger of being left, "In a lurch," by one character or another. Like others, I figure some things may have been lost in translation, but "1Q84" fared reasonably well. There could've been so much more done with the premise, the characters, and the motives, but it never came to fruition. There were also beau-coup characters, and the poor narration made for a confusing, indistinguishable listen. I'm glad I got this one on sale, otherwise, I'd ask for a refund.
It was a nicely written, intriguing story that never took off. I kept waiting for something to happen, but my title says it all: 19 hours of two detectives interviewing others and talking amongst themselves, trying to figure out a murder. But unlike "Law and Order" -- which I don't care for, anyway -- you don't even get to enjoy the setup action of the murder; the book just drops you in its aftermath. It was, however, written well-enough to hold my attention and make me *think* something was afoot, but it fell flat in the end... And not even in the end, about 3/4 of the way through. As another reviewer said, it was entirely too long. The revelation of the case took an hour to explain, and even then, there was still about an hour left of the audiobook. I'd had enough by the end of book 2 of 3. I'm used to the John Sanford, James Lee Burke police/detective stories, so I was clearly out of my element on this one. But if you're intrigued and entertained by the slow, methodical, true-to-life, no-filler, painstaking detective work, this may be your book. The only upside was the terrific, Irish-accented narration.
Is Grisham passing on someone else's work under his established name? This book lacked suspense, likeable characters, and everything just magically flowed along without any real hurdles. What a horrible waste of a credit. I grabbed the Racketeer -- like many others -- after seeing a few of the "Grisham is back" reviews, but if they think he's back, they must've been lost along with him.
The narrator also added to the misery by dragging out his speech in an attempt to add emphasis to a drab work. I had to listen at a faster rate just to make it bearable. He also makes it hard to articulate narration from dialogue, or determine exactly who is speaking since many characters share a similar voice. This is not a problem for the first 2 hours of the book, however, as there is only about 10 lines of dialogue. Just blatant, nondescriptive text that only serves the purpose of moving the book into the third quarter as quickly as possible.
I really enjoyed my last Grisham listen, "The Street Lawyer", but am regretting having wasted the little time I have for audiobooks on "The Racketeer". And as others have mentioned, the author note at the end is a slap in the face. He practically admits that he simply threw this piece of junk together without any: "research", which was, "hardly a priority", "accuracy", which was "not deemed crucial", or inspiration. And for whatever reason, he actually felt the need to state, "Long paragraphs of fiction were used to avoid looking up facts." What a politely, nonchalant F-U to faithful fans. I wish that note had been at the beginning of the book so I wouldn't have wasted my time. Return or Retire.
I purchased this ahead of my credit after finishing "Variant", and can't say that "Feedback" held my interest in the same fashion. It starts off pretty strong, but towards the middle, and especially the end, seems to fall apart into a cliched Made-for-TV movie. I will say, however, that Robison Wells does a great job at creating suspense throughout the first half of the novel. His writing style engrosses the reader creating a sense of terror as if they were running and hiding from the enemy themselves. Although, in "Variant" where I couldn't wait to find out what happened next, "Feedback" left me apathetic to Benson's wavering plights. And what was really disappointing was the sudden lack of detail in the action sequences -- most notably those occurring along the river. Where Wells had once vividly painted pictures of Benson's surroundings and actions, he now seemed rushed to blatantly spew out the gist. As for the ending, I wouldn't say it was far-fetched, just contrived of well-known Hollywood endings spanning the past Twenty-some-odd years. Maybe all of this is a clue that the story wasn't that good to begin with; if everything falls apart after the great secret is revealed and the story becomes worse with the more you learn about the secret. It was still well-written -- for the first, and half of the second book -- just not good enough to garner a re-read or recommendation.
The plot and storyline will keep the reader engaged. It wasn't very gripping, but I did find myself sitting in the car after reaching my destination to figure out what would happen next. The speed at which the story moved and the "shock" towards the end did cause me to purchase the next novel, "Feedback", ahead of my credit, but "Variant" is far superior to its sequel. If you're on the fence about purchasing it, jump over. I don't have any regrets for my purchase and enjoyed the story for what it was. For the genre, it wasn't near as good as say, Neal Shusterman's, "Unwind", but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
First, the narrator: I'm not sure what happened to Richard Ferrone on this one, but he can take a lesson from Luke Daniels or Nick Podehl -- both of whom did outstanding vocal talents with Neal Shusterman's audiobooks -- when it comes to performing multiple voices. Don't get me wrong; Ferrone's voice for Lucas fits the character perfectly! But every cop who wasn't Lucas sounded like a poor imitation of Humphrey Bogart. Then all of the Mexican characters had the same voice and even worse, Virgil Flowers (along with a few random characters) often shared the same voice as Lucas. Even with Sanford's pervasive use of " said", it was often difficult to determine exactly who was talking.
I came away from the end of this novel thinking, "That's it?" My first 'Prey' novel was, "Invisible Prey", which gained my respect for Sanford and intrigued me to read more of his work. This story was a bit weak, suffering only from a lack of action and suspense. And while it kept my attention, it was nothing like the rush from a Kidd novel. While Kidd may not resurface, I wish Sanford would create another character like him. The police thought-process is intriguing but these stories become monotonous, all tending to follow the same layout with a little flare on the side. And like other reviewers have said, the Virgil Flowers subplot was completely worthless. It added no value to the story and didn't interfere with the main plot in any impressive way.
[SPOILER] Think how much more interesting this book could have been if Lucas' cast was on his right hand and it handicapped him from retrieving or handling his pistol in a timely manner during a tight spot with the Mexicans. Then the subplot would've had SOME importance. As a matter of fact, Lucas never even came into contact with the Mexicans. I believe the absence of this action is alluded to by Sanford via Lucas' take on police novels; '[While it's a lot more realistic without the Hollywood theatrics, it sure is boring.]' [/SPOILER]
All-in-all, it's okay, nothing great. But Sanford's a good writer, so I'm guessing that I need to travel back down the timeline of 'Prey' novels to see what all the fuss is about. Although I really wish he would find a reason to bring Kidd back into the picture.
Everyone is right: the final installment is dark and gritty, but I thought it pulled together well. From the first book, this trilogy never felt like material for young-young adults. I think it'd meet a TV-14 rating and there sure isn't anything in this book that isn't already available to young adults via TV or video games. "The Hunger Games" left me yearning for more action: here are these gruesome games and we get very little graphic detail. "Catching Fire" showed that the characters were growing some backbone and took the series to a new level. "Mockingjay" barred none, and I respect it for that. If it had an abruptly "happy" ending -- good simply triumphs evil with no internal conflicts, everybody's all smiles and the people of Panem cheer as Katniss gets to marry both Gale and Peeta and float off into the sunset -- then I (and I'm sure many others) would've been highly upset. This book provides a realistic outcome, like it or not, and had it succumbed to the facade of a Utopian world to come, I think the entire message would have been lost. And I'm not sure what all of the complaints are about; the ending isn't far from perfect, in fact, it's perhaps the most plausible.
My one complaint is that the book did crawl for quite a while and then throw everything into the last two to three hours. It still contained the most action of the series, but I'd say the first book was the most well-written and the second was the best at keeping my interest and keeping me guessing.
If looking for another good series to jump into, I'd recommend Neal Shusterman's "Everlost" trilogy, and especially his book, "Unwind".
I appreciated Murakami's ability to intertwine multiple storylines while exposing the reader to literary and musical culture and history. I became excited with the obscure mentions of the Little People and anticipated a very climatic end to a novel that obviously took a lot of time and effort to thoughtfully craft. I liked that fact that it kept me guessing, and I was just so sure I had things figured out until I would be thrown off-course again. I enjoyed all of this until I noticed I was on the last audiobook and the time was dwindling down, yet the story seemed like it had so much longer to go.
Like others have said: It's unnecessarily sexual. It's ridiculously verbose -- this book could have been 1/3 smaller had Murakami not regaled us with the step-by-step thoughts and actions of each character. (Another reviewer detailed it best describing the painstaking detail of Tengo cooking dinner.) It could have been another third shorter without a simile being mentioned for EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT OR OBJECT that the characters encounter. I thought it was clever writing at first, but then realized that it didn't stop and was more excessive than effective. My biggest gripe, along with everyone else, is with the loose ends! You can't help but feeling like nothing really happened in this novel when you're done and wondering if you've wasted your time. It was an interesting ride, but it was like being on a world-renown rollercoaster with a breathtaking drop and climbing the incline just to find out that there really is no decline, only another platform, when your restraints unlatch and you're told to exit to your left. (See, now he's got ME doing it...)
The female narrator bothered me at first, but I grew accustomed to her. She was poor, however, in distinguishing voices between the narrator and Aomame whenever Aomame entered into dialogue with another female. Tengo's narrator was fine, but I didn't care much for the second male narrator who voiced Ushikawa.
Had the ending actually brought the magnificent story together, this would be a definite re-listen to enjoy without the "mystery" or maybe to could catch something I missed the first time around. But in its present state, I feel like, "Why bother..."
After being thoroughly impressed by "Unwind", I decided to give this trilogy a try. I was a little bored with this first novel, however. And although I know Shusterman writes for young adults, the majority of this novel's story struck me as sophomoric in nature -- nature, not style. The narration, on the other hand, is unbelievable! Each character -- and there are MANY repeating, influential characters -- has their own distinct voice, most that are intrinsic to the way that they died, their time period, and even the current condition of their soul. Shusterman lays a good groundwork on the rules of afterlife, but this book doesn't have the edge that "Everwild" or "Everfound" does, where the characters become more developed, cunning, and even ruthless. As the startup novel, it's a little slow at times but has its moments, and definitely picks up towards the end.
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