On a scale of 1-10 of the audiobooks I've listened to so far (which aren't many as of yet), Fat Ollie ranks a 9.
Michael Arkin is a good reader and his pace is perfect -- not too fast or too slow. He has an excellent mastery of the accents he had to cover.
My favorite character as performed by Michael Arkin would be the male Puerto Rican prostitute.
I only wished sometimes that Arkin wouldn't read every single sentence so dramatically. Occasionally, I felt like he was reading a children's book and that it needed toned down as the mood of certain scenes or dialogue varied.
I would change nothing about the reading. Carolyn McCormick was so good that when I tried to read the book myself I would go too fast to get as into it. Her pace and skill at dramatic reading takes the reader through every moment. So listening to her really maximizes the experience.
As for the story itself: the things that "worked out" in the end did not make the agony worth it. The author cheated us out of satisfaction. I can respect her realism and avoidance of a typical "happy ending," but something was missing. I think Collins could have at least given us a good couple chapters on the reconciliation and love between Katniss and Peeta.
While I understand why this book is an award-winning masterpiece (Heinlein's grasp of international relations, politics, revolutionary strategy, philosophy, technology, and projection of the future is staggering), it was too heavy on the political theory for me. If it weren't for the audio version, I would probably not have finished it. What it sacrifices for in action it makes up for in brilliance of concept. I prefer an equal balance of both.
The most interesting aspect of the story to me was the endearing computer Mike.
Lloyd James is a genius, hands down, with his mastery of accents. His pace, inflection, and tone were perfect. My only complaint was that when he did the voice of Wyoh and other female characters, he ended up sounding like a gay man and it was distracting. It's best, with male readers, to not try to attempt to sound female. It doesn't work. With that said, I still had to give him 5 stars because he was that amazing otherwise.
This was my first-ever audio book and, as a die-hard lover of holding a material book, I was pleasantly surprised. Carolyn McCormick is an excellent reader. She held my attention and took me through the story in such a way that a movie was played out in my head. At one point, I tried to continue the story by just reading it on my own and it was suddenly going too fast. I was missing significance. McCormick really maximized the story for me.
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