The story took a while to catch me. As is tangentially discussed in the story itself, it is more an alternative history story than a science fiction story. The characters are interesting, if sometimes their motivations seem implausible.
The voice performance definitely detracts from the story. The story itself is somewhere in the 3-4 star range, but Weiner's voice was a constant annoyance throughout.
Yes, the first time through, you likely won't catch all of the author's clues as to what is truly fantastic and what is misdirection within the world of the narrative. I plan to go back and listen through from the start of this book again after I complete the sequel, the Map of the Sky.
Herbert George Wells is my favorite. His life weaves through the plot lines of the other characters, and he is engaging and well developed.
This was my first book with James Langton as narrator. I thought he did an outstanding job of capturing the Victorian Era feel of the writing.
It took me a bit to really catch the rhythm of this book. For the first 30 minutes, it seemed a bit too cute in tone, but I'd encourage you to give it a chance. It's well worth the time, and highly enjoyable.
The book is an odd cross between adult thriller/science fiction and YA escapist. It's conflicted, and doesn't really success in either genre.
The "twists" in the story were usually easy to predict (and cringe at) well in advance. The science is weak, which could be forgiven if the author didn't try to provide a scientific basis periodically in the story. It would have been better to just waive a hand in the general direction of Clarke's Third Law.
Perhaps the biggest disconnect in the story is the lack of plausible reaction in the characters and families. As people die and disappear in the fairly isolated and small communities surround Los Alamos, NM, there is no significant response by the police or the families to protect the community and bring those responsible to justice.
The audio performance worked for me, but the story didn't. This book doesn't really end; more of a "Tune in next week for our next exciting installment...!" I'd recommend you save your credit for a more satisfying book or series. If you are looking for YA Science Fiction, I'd point you towards Steve Miller and Sharon Lee's Liaden series. If you are looking for mystery and science fiction aimed at an adult audience, I'd recommend "the Map of Time".
I've just started "Red Planet Blues." 30 minutes in, and so far so good...
The three teenage protagonists work for the most part. The adults tend to be caricatures, from the mild to the extreme. The evil villains almost sprout horns and spritz brimstone to ensure you know that they are VERY BAD. The parents are good, loving, and darn near flawless... it gets a bit cloying. More three dimensional supporting characters would redeem this to at least two stars.
Michael Flynn creates a fascinating blend of cultures, fragmentary histories, and characters. The narrative switches between a reluctant storyteller and his audience of one, and the events that unfolded surrounding the Dancer. Musical themes flow through the narrative, and the author provides a feeling much akin to musical themes and counterpoints throughout the story.
Several of the subplots are not fully explored, and several of the premises for the story require a significant suspension of disbelief such as a complete lack of technological and scientific innovation across far-flung interstellar civilizations. Nonetheless, the quality of the characters and the mysteries that unfold in the story make this a solidly enjoyable tale. I suspect a number of friends will be receiving this as a gift in the near future. Highly recommended.
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