Sierra Foothills, Northern CA | Member Since 2007
Admittedly, I'm a fan of this series. Having skipped around a little re which ones I was listening to I decided to go back and listen to all in order. (I did skip Red October due to the quality concerns expressed by other reviewers.) All is first rate in this book. Even though there is a reasonable mix of characters and nationalities, Clancy keeps it clear enough that you don't find yourself wondering , 'who is this again?" Scott Brick handles the various accents exceptionally well. The pacing is just right to keep you fully involved but not so fast that you lose track of things.
Now, on to the next one.
This book is largely based on authors and the publishing industry. There is a book central to the plot which was described at one point as largely "gore and arcane symbolism". This struck me as an apt description for "The Silkworm" as well, therefore my headline for this review.
I found the plot pacing to be very uneven; toward the middle it bogged down so seriously that I considered stopping. At that point I was having trouble differentiating the characters and their respective roles. Later I got a better handle on the various key players at just about the time when the story turned markedly grotesque. I also realized that I wasn't finding any of the secondary characters likable or even remotely sympathetic. Imagine my surprise when I saw that "The Silkworm" received one of the Audible Book of the Year awards.
I stuck with and finished the book for two reasons. 1) the two main characters are absolutely wonderful. You care about them and want to know how it all works out in their respective stories. 2) Robert Glenister is stunningly superb. He could narrate Websters and I would listen in fascination.
The story in this book was very well crafted. The "heroine" is a very interesting young girl, and as the book progresses, an equally interesting young woman. Her story kept my interest as events unfolded and the plot played out. The only other character who was equally interesting was her very large, well trained, dog. The rest of the characters were single dimension and not terribly well nuanced. But since the story had pace and interesting twists, the lack of additional character development didn't seem that bothersome.
The narrator is someone I have listened to and enjoyed before. However in those books she was a part of a he/she narration team. She does girls' and women's voices very well. Unfortunately her approach to a man's voice is to constrict her throat, drop her pitch and sound hoarse. That wasn't overly appealing.
This book had just about what we expect from Nora Roberts: an interesting plot, some bodice ripping, touches of pop psychology and an easy differentiation between the good and bad guys.
Overall, I never considered not finishing the book. I truly did want to know how it came out. I recommend it if you are looking for an interesting, light diversion. If you're looking for depth and thought provoking insights, then I suggest you reserve this book for another time.
I'm a fantasy, sci-fi fan. I usually find time travel books to be fun. This one was just slightly off the mark.
Here's the odd part:
* I have liked Luke Daniels in previous books. But his narration was too over the top here.
* Time travel plot was well thought out, but the story line didn't take advantage of the possibilities.
* All the characters were spot on. A smarmy and nasty villain, a young protagonist who is still growing/learning, a wise elder with lots of eccentricities, a sweet young heroine with smarts and attitude, etc. But they didn't come together in an interesting way.
* A story line that had all the right parts, but it just never went anywhere interesting.
I really wanted to like this book (as in, I did listen all the way to the end), but it just fell on its face before crossing the finishing line.
Before buying this book I read the reviews (I always do this). One reviewer called this book episodic, making me wonder what he meant. Now I know. The first 1/2 of this book is one seemingly disconnected episode after another. This reader likes much more continuity and sense of a story building to something than Taylor provided in this section of the book. There seemed to be no story arc, just a flat line of episodes. If the narrator hadn't been so darn entertaining to listen to, I might have stopped at that point.
I enjoy the conundrums of time travel and have read enough of these stories to know not to expect realism. However, I do have trouble when human interactions and emotional responses aren't realistic. There were several times during this book that long-term relationships took huge 90 degree turns that were completely inexplicable.
And yes having said all of that I gave it 4 stars. Why? Taylor writes terrific dialogue, both internal and external. She gives a hugely funny and wry twist to character exchanges just when the listener/reader least expects it. Several times I burst out laughing, which can be disconcerting when not alone.
Bottomline: I accepted the flaws, enjoyed the primary characters, was enchanted with Taylor's turns of phrases, and will listen to the next book in this series.
Prior to Flat Out I read two quite dark books. Both featured psychotic, uncaring main characters. This book was certainly what I needed to change that virtual taste left over from my previous choices. Had I known in advance that this bordered on (or maybe actually was) a YA romance book, I wouldn't have purchased it. I'm glad for what I didn't know.
Julia Whelan is a gifted narrator who is particularly entertaining when she voices young girls and women. She brought humor and a touch of wryness to the story that was great fun.
Yes, the story was rather predictable, but this listener didn't mind figuring it out 1/2 way through. Yes, the character development didn't proceed with much depth, but that was fine. Yes, the romance was laced with naivete, but grinding sex wouldn't have worked with this book.
All in all, it was an enjoyable break from deeper, darker books. However, I will now return to my normally scheduled programming.
You will love this book if:
* You enjoy being surprised at every turn. This plot consistently seemed to be pointing the listener/reader in one direction and then turning 90 degrees. Just as soon as I thought "ah ha, I can now outguess the author", it caught me flatfooted again.
* You want well drawn primary characters with full dimension flaws.
* You love well executed writing with all the dramatic and short-term cliff-hangers that make for a good mystery.
You won't love this book if:
* You don't like fully self-absorbed characters. The two main players are vitriol laced and consumed with deep and dark anger.
* You need an "all's well that ends well" ending. Or even just an ending that suggests there's hope for something less malevolent.
I never once considered not finishing this book -- I had to know how it ended. However there is absolutely nothing uplifting or happy about this book. I wouldn't consider rereading it (my absolute litmus test for a good book) and I'm turned off enough that I don't think I'm interested in seeing the movie.
I had opposing thoughts about almost all of the elements of this book.
Story line: I thought it dragged; yet, it had a mesmerizing pace that I wouldn't have wanted changed.
Characters: They were all in the range from full-on sociopath (only the lead character) to amoral to just completely uncaring about anyone but themselves; yet, I wanted to know what happened to them ... in someway I can't explain, I actually cared about how they fared.
Plot premise: It was about the forging of some only slightly noteworthy paintings, as in "why do I care about this?"; yet, I became interested in the nuances of forgery detection and actually was hoping the forger would get away with it.
The ending: In no sense of the word was there an ending, or any sense of closure on the story line; yet, it somehow poetically worked with all the rest of the book.
I kept wondering why I was continuing to listen to this book; yet, I did all the way to the end. And I'm glad I did.
My only non-dichotomous opinion was about Kevin Kenerly's narration: it was superb!
Strangely enough: I recommend this book ... but only if you are committed to this series. As a standalone book I'm pretty sure you would find your credit wasted.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, its characters, and the wondrous narration of Edoardo Ballerini.
Set in 1702 in a quite young and rough New York City, our main character is an orphan who has set out to seek his way as a young adult. He encounters charming and likable characters as well as sinister denizens of the criminal underworld. He becomes an apprentice to a small detective agency that bills itself as solvers of problems. From there various crimes needing solving are presented. They eventually knit themselves together in a rather satisfying way, All of this is brought to life by Ballerini, one of Audibles premier narrators.
Much of the storyline is charming with a youthful innocence appropriate to the primary character. Yes, there are some violent and dark parts, but they complement the storyline. For much of the book I was certain that, although this is part of a series, the story would stand on its own and not need to be read in sequence. And then I got to the end of the book which leaves a large open hole in the plot -- clear evidence that the reader/listener is intended to follow on to book 3.
I recommend this book. It's good as a standalone, but clearly wants to be read/heard as part of a series. And, btw, without the ending "hole", this was a clear 5 star in my mind.
I'm always looking for a new author offering a new and interesting series. I like detective stories and crime solving novels with interesting characters and an appropriate amount of complexity and plot twists.
I read all of the (very mixed) reviews for this book and became curious how so many reviewers could differ so broadly? Could Scott Brick really have done that bad a job? Was this really a new and interesting author with intriguing main characters? Was the story line truly confusing and hard to follow? Here are my thoughts regarding those questions.
The author does seem very promising. I liked the main character and his partner. (They are Cleveland ex-cops who are now private detectives.) The story line had the necessary complexities but wasn't overwhelmingly confusing. It's a fairly large cast and it's not easy to know who are the bad guys vs the good guys. But if you pay attention it will all become clear in the end. The ending, while not a total surprise, wasn't easy to see coming. My only quibble with the author is that the story managed to wrap all the loose ends up quite quickly and a little too easily. All in all, a good story and promising beginning to a series.
Now, on to Scott Brick. I have long been a fan of this talented narrator. But this is the 2nd book I've listened to where I thought he periodically sounded like a Victorian maiden having an attack of the vapors. Some of the character interactions came off as implausible (at the least) and downright melodramatic (at the worst). I couldn't tell how much Brick's narration contributed to that reaction on my part or whether it was the writing. And having finished the book and reflected on it, I still don't know.
If the next books in this series had a different narrator, I would download them immediately. Given that Brick is the narrator for all of them released so far, I'm emphatically on the fence.
This book is everything I love. Lots of techy stuff, laugh out loud humor, and amazing twists along the way. (Background: my undergrad degree was English Lit. My professors told me after graduation I would return to my love of SciFi but that I'd be over that phase in a couple months. All of these yrs later I love, love, love me some great SciFi. Apologies to my esteemed educators.)
I bow in total admiration to Scalzi's fertile imagination. Wil Wheaton was masterful in keeping a dry tone. I don't know how he read some of the dialog without having to smother guffaws and giggles.
I have filed this book in my "must relisten" file in my iTunes library. Not only will I relisten because it's just that good (and fun) but it is so loaded with whimsy and unexpected stuff I'm certain that I didn't really get it all on the first listen.
This is a joy ride encapsulated in 10 hrs 34 mins. Do yourself a favor and don't miss this one.
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