I am a fantasy lit fan. I love LoTR, Eragon, and Harry Potter. This book, however, left me so disappointed and repulsed that I couldn't finish it. I stopped listening after an hour. What to compare it to? Edward Bulwer-Lytton jumps to mind immediately. This is the infamous author of the novel, 'Paul Clifford' that has the memorable "It was a dark and stormy night" line. The chief criticism I make for Brooks' work is the same that has been directed at Bulwer-Lytton, which is, to quote from Wikipedia, that he displays a "broad style of writing, characterized by a self-serious attempt at dramatic flair, the imitation of formulaic styles, an extravagantly florid style", and redundancies. Every sentence is burdened with descriptive extremes. The characters are shallow and not credible in their relationships with one another, even for fantasy characters. Brooks himself said he undertook to write this novel to save himself from 'terminal boredom' during his first year of law school. As far as I'm concerned, all he did was to transfer that boredom into this novel. I don't know how his other works are. I am not motivated to find out. Scott Brick, the reader, is a perfect match for Brooks. His delivery completely captures and emphasizes the shallow writing style of the printed page. That this book has enjoyed considerable success in the marketplace only illustrates H.L Mencken's truth about the inverse relationship between profitability and the public's intelligence.
I purchased 'Roman Blood' when it first came out in hardback, as well as almost all Saylor's other books. I wanted to re-experience his stories in audio now. However, I find Scott Harrison to be a poor choice to read any stories, except perhaps some of the Audible Kids titles. His voice is juvenile in tenor, as is his attempt to portray different voices for different characters in the story. He has no sense of proper emotion for the scene, and mispronounces various words scattered throughout the story. He lacks the maturity and dignitas for stories who ancient loci and personae demand them. I recommend sewing Harrison's renditions of Saylor's books in a sack and throwing them in the nearest Tiber or appropriate substitute.
I have always liked Anne McCaffrey's stories, but the reading of this story is so poor that I have to make an effort to follow it. The reader makes constant smacking noises. He doesn't seem to know how to control his saliva or how to breath. He has some ability to vary voices, which is good. But he is no Jim Dale. When he reads as a dragon speaking, his voice production is hollow, as if through an echoing tunnel. That's a bit unconvincing. The reading presents a challenge to enjoying the story.
This is a contemporary American bildungsroman with a mystery motif and a lengthy review of 'Catcher in the Rye'. There's plenty of 'shock' language, which may be an accurate reflection of today's HS student for all I know. Tom (King Dork) clearly is a precocious boy in many respects, although still filled with the usual confusions of adolescence. His best friend is addicted to hard liquor and stealing antidepressant medications from Tom's mother. The student social world at Tom's HS comes across as a kind of Baghdad of warring factions. The faculty have arrested development that keeps them in the 1960s. Lincoln Hoppe does an excellent job of telling the story. I found myself more interested in how the matter of the death of Tom's father would play out. To my disappointment, this theme is unresolved, and we never know the truth of the matter. The ending is very strange. It consists of Tom reading a long list of terms more or less relevant to the storyline, and supplying his own post-modern definitions. I thought the ending did not contribute to the storyline, which ends rather abruptly with Tom recessing into a philosophical haze while his best friend falls into a drug/alcohol stupor. A good knowledge of rock bands from the 1960s through the 1990s is needed in order to understand many of Tom's comments.
This is my first Christopher Moore story. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately got the other two that are currently available, and find myself hoping that 'Blood Sucking Fiends' will be released in audiobook form soon. Susan Bennett is an excellent story-teller and really brings the characters to life. I particularly liked her Abby Normal characterization (hence the title of my review!). I wondered how Moore learned Goth lingo, and then I checked Wikipedia for the answer. So!
This book is a series of letters from a high school boy to an anonymous 'friend', written over the course of a year. It doesn't take long to realize that Charlie (the boy) is not writing about ordinary adolescent angst. He is very disturbed psychologically. He has a history of psychotherapy. He cries at most anything. He has strong family ties and strong ties with his few friends, but he is in constant anguish over how he should relate to people. The admonition to "be yourself" doesn't work for him because he doesn't seem to know who he is. He professes respect for other people, but engages in vandalism when he encounters a classmate who violates his norms. He is capable of savage violence when aroused. In the end we learn why Charlie is the way he is, and we are given some hope that he may resolve his 'issues' after all. The reading is very good, although I think there is a disconnect between the youth of Charlie and the obvious age of the reader.
I was a little hesitant to buy this book at first. I graduated from high school 55 years ago, and today's youth are from another planet as far as I'm concerned. But I have to admit both the book and the reader had me lmao from the beginning. This really isn't a science fiction book (too bad in a way... I have always liked sci-fi). It's a very funny, and at the same time heartwarming story about a NJ teenager growing up. Being from NJ myself, I had a special appreciation for his perceptions of the Garden State. I recommend this book enthusiastically.
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