Incredibly, this book was recommended by Stephen King in the epilogue of 11-22-63 (a book I HIGHLY recommend). He called it a "definitive time travel story". How could I admire his writing so much and HATE what he liked?
I'll just flat out tell any sci fi junkies, the time travel is completely incidental to the story and very badly designed. Think faster-than-light spaceships using a really really powerful solid rocket. He even violates his own "physics" at one very important point.
As for the story, it could have been told in an hour. He spends so much time explaining and detailing the scenes and people, you will fight the urge to skip forward. I did it routinely and marveled at how he was still droning on after minutes of skipping. His descriptions and ponderings are inane and do nothing to either further the story or develop the characters. The narrator has a deep, authoritative voice which stands in contradiction to the sophomoric writing. He is obviously an artist. He spends a good deal of the book discussing art.
As for the review that calls it a "love story"... well it's much more that than "time travel", but if you're looking for a good love story, DO NOT listen to this. As I mentioned: character development is non-existent. There is no chemistry, no feeling. The story is simple, predictable and extremely shallow unless you are into him going on and on about how incredible it is that he is really in another time and how amazingly different New York is in the 19th century. And art. Incessant discussions of art -- drawing, photography, carving
If these were the "best" stories from a single year, I would be apalled. But they span a few decades. There are one or two that may have been worth the time, but most were horrible. And most are from the 60's, before the moon landing and are pretty dated.
Maybe it's the timeframe... Or maybe it's the writing. This book jumps all over the place, failing to keep any narative alive for very long. The author uses the barest of segues to move rapidly from topic to another. I feel like I never got any in-depth knowledge about anything.
The narator exacerbates this with badly pieced-together snippets of reading. The tone of voice changes radically as he picks the book back up and then switches a couple sentences later. At some points it feels like the audio editor was trying to remove "white space" like you hear in some radio ads, trying to get as much in as possible in 30 seconds.
Just a review of the narration. It is the best ever. He does a different voice for every character. It's unbelievably well-done. If you're going to listen for almost 50 hours, this guys makes it worth it.
Not an indictment of the novel, but you may wish to avoid this recording. It's read by an older Englishman with a very dry tone. Sounds like he's reading a teleprompter for BBC News. And the quality it very bad. Like he's in a tunnel and there is a very subtle sound of another voice in the background occasionally that you think you hear. Was a radio on while he recorded the book?
Contrary to one review I read, the narrator is very good. But then... I'm a man. I guess you'll have to read the book to know why that is significant.
Read this if you love to learn why we are the way we are. The author has cobbled together many lines of research and presents the findings in a compelling, light-hearted way.
As a man, it is nice to hear lots of justification for why we prefer certain women and that personality is definitely not the only meaningful reason to prefer someone. That goes for women too. Women will learn why they love to bury their faces in their lover's pillow or t-shirts. Why are high heels sexy? And how to tell if your date is going well by looking into your date's eyes and listening to the way they speak.
It is fascinating to learn how much our subconscious and deep down brain functions play a role in what we consider to be beautiful. One group was shown pictures for 13 milliseconds and still "accurately" judged the attractiveness of the subjects. In that amount of time, they didn't really even get a look at the faces they were rating, but they still could tell if they were attractive.
Unless you want to learn about microbiology (how much is real and how much fiction?), this book is a SNOOZER. It reads like he just wanted to show off his new-found knowledge and and attmpted to wrap it up in a LAME story. There is no plot, no suspense, no twists, nothing. It's a straight line, completely predictable boring book. The ending was so anti-climatic I couldn't believe it.
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