Lincoln and Child, both individually and collectively, used to write great novels. I am sad to conclude that their novels are just not as good as they used to be. In particular, this novel was, at best, half-baked.
The set up was fine. I was hooked! And the story went along . . . until . . .
I found myself hearing plot details like (quasi-spoiler that I will try to be vague enough to avoid) "Well, that will only be a problem if it's X, and we know it's Y!" (At which time you KNOW that they were wrong, it is going to turn out to be Y, and you have a very good idea exactly what is going to happen.)
Worse, was after the book ended, and I suddenly realized all the loose ends that were never tied up. Personally, I hate that as much as anything.
If you want to have a good listen in the nature of a quasi-mystical thriller, I commend many of Lincoln & Child's earlier collaborations UNTIL "The Wheel of Darkness." That is when, if I may borrow the metaphor, these guys "jumped the shark."
For example, try any of the following:
The Ice Limit (Very Good)
or any of the early Pendergast novels, up to said "Wheel of Darkness":
Relic (Also very good)
Still Life with Crows
The Book of the Dead
Dance of Death
I can suspend disbelief well, and I read a lot of stuff that strains believability.
But this was just silly.
I admit that I only listened to half of the novel, because I thought it had to get better . . . but it didn't, and I value my time too much to listen to something that is trying to be believable, but isn't.
Let me give you one small spoiler: the protagonist is supposed to be this very attractive woman . . . but she can easily pass for a guy when she needs to. WHAT???
(And the reader seemed too melodramatic and breathy for my taste, but maybe it was just because what she was reading was so terrible -- I cannot be sure.)
I will end the review here. It hurts my head just to think about this audiobook anymore.
If you want to listen to a good thriller, try something by Alex Berenson, anything by Robert Crais, or one of Lee Child's "Jack Reacher" novels (really - there are lots of books that I REALLY like - JUST NOT THIS ONE!)
And knowing that this won a "Tournament of Audiobooks," I will say this: I will never again trust the outcome of the "Tournament" in deciding how to invest a credit. (Really - this book is THAT bad.) I guess I am just not with the pack.
I usually like long audiobooks in which I can really become immersed. Also, I have really enjoyed some of Tom Clancy's other books. The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising were very good. On the other hand, Patriot Games seemed to show a shift to a less credible, more self-indulgent trend. Well, this might be the capper to that trend.
An abridgement of this novel might taken 90 minutes to two hours. However, in the unabridged version we are treated to 24 hours that stray through long, rambling discussions of Jack Ryan's commute to work while the top three people at the CIA cannot seem to do anything but talk about him. And the irrelevant critique of Britain's healthcare system is riveting . . . not.
Avoid Red Rabbit.
(If you want a good cold war story, Audible has Clancy's unabridged The Hunt for Red October, and Stuart Woods' Deep Lie was very entertaining.)
This is not a bad book. However, "Child 44" was so good and so interesting, this was a disappointment. It is not as original and not as fascinating.
I regret giving a negative review after having liked the precursor novel so much. Maybe the author set too high a standard with that work.
This book was so interesting throughout Part I . . . but then it started to slow down during Part II, and by Part III, I no longer cared - I just wanted it to end. The premise was intriguing, but then it stopped making sense. I think the writer is very skilled, and I enjoyed the descriptions and the historical discussions, but the plot just became too weak. And the ending felt like "well, we've gone on long enough, so let's just end the story like this."
The narration got to be a problem, too. I got really tired of the woman narrator's Eastern European accent. I thought it was overacted and it became very cloying. Also, I usually avoid books that Paul Michael reads. I thought he was off to a good start, but then I was too distracted when he kept pronouncing the word "pension" as used to describe an inn (pawn-see-own) as "penn-shun." You know, if you get paid to read books for a living, shouldn't you take the time to look up how to pronounce the words correctly? That makes me NUTS!!!
How did anyone ever believe this novel was written by Robert Ludlum under a pen name? The plot plodded. The funny parts weren't. I had a very hard time paying attention and suspending disbelief. And the stuff about the protagonist being some sort of "level four" sex magician was absurd and annoying.
Do yourself a favor - pass on this in favor of one of Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels, one of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, one of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's novels featuring Agent Pendergast, or anything written by Barry Eisler, James Lee Burke, or Nelson DeMille (if Audible ever gets those back in the collection!).
Some of the concepts described were absolutely fascinating. I enjoyed the novel, although I wish the author had imagined a more satisfying ending to cap this interesting work of speculative fiction.
I did not find the characters or many of the events to be believable or interesting. I thought the ending was predictable. This was a yawner, but not the worst audiobook I have heard.
I know this novel is considered to be both classic and influential, but I hated it. I kept listening -- hour, after hour, day after day, week after week -- because this novel is supposed to be so wonderful. I found it to be preachy, self-indulgent, and painfully repetitive.
I am glad Stephen King did not retire. I think his writing continues to improve. I thought this book was absolutely terrific. I listened to it again as soon as I finished it the first time. Great story, great narration.
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