The City and the Stars is a classic for a reason and not just because Arthur C. Clarke is the author, so instead I will write specifically about the audiobook.
This reading is almost a dramatisation since the individual characters are all ready by different narrators and there are musical backgrounds. Unfortunately this isn't what I expected given the listing on audible.com. Perhaps in this case I cannot provide an accurate review since dramatisations/multiple narrators really aren't what I enjoy listening to. I prefer my audiobooks narrated by one person who can add their individual drama to the reading.
The quality of the recording is very high and the production values are wonderful, but since there is no indication in the description or sound clip of exactly how the book is presented I must rate it low since it's not actually what I expected or wanted when I purchased it.
As I wrote with Foucault's Pendulum, the editing of the story really harms the emotion of the original work. The original book is a wonderful piece of self discovery and existentialism through the loss of one's life while still having to live out the rest of your days in a strange world looking across a gap that signifies so much in the grand scheme of time and existence. Unfortunately, through abridging the book much of it is lost.
While this version tells the basic story, it misses much. Tim Curry's narration is absolutely superb and engaging, however. So I would recommend this as a casual listen if you've already read the book, otherwise I would say give the audio a miss and read the actual novel.
It's a real shame there are no unabridged Eco works available.
I really would love to give the story higher marks because Umberto Eco's book is a masterpiece. I purchased this audiobook in a sale without even thinking to check if it were unabridged or not. While the editing does get across the general idea of the story so much of the emotion, fear, paranoia and surreality is just lost. It's a shame that audible does not have an unabridged version.
However, if like me you have read the book before and just wish to listen casually to remind yourself of its brilliance then this audiobook is very well narrated and Tim Curry really manages to bring life to the characters with the limited material.
I've been listening to audio books of novels I'd previously read for a while now, and up next on my list was one of my favourite Murakami pieces. When I read this novel it was an immediate stand out, and it is so finely crafted and beautifully told. The story is full of wonder and intrigue, with just a little darkness and science fiction.
Unfortunately this audio book version is a huge let down. The performance by the narrator is actually pretty good until you get to the female characters. His female voices are so annoying to listen to and so over the top and thoroughly dumb sounding. This is especially bad when the characters are incredibly strong.
I usually give narrators a good chance to sell their interpretation to me, but after a few hours I just couldn't take it any more and unfortunately had to give up this listening. As I said; terribly disappointed.
What a shame it's not the same narrator as for Kafka on the Shore or even Hardboiled Wonderland and The End of the World.
I've listened to over 70 audio books in the past few years and this is the only the second one I completely gave up on and only the first that was due to the narrator.
I really wanted to be able to give this audio book a higher rating because it's a masterpiece. From China Mieville's fantastic, descriptive and dark writing (that I fell for with UnLondon), to John Lee's superb narration this book is just perfect. I seriously couldn't ask for any more. One of dark Science Fiction's best writers and one of the world's best narrators of audio books.
Unfortunately on Part 3 of the audio at 3:30:30 (not kidding) there is a jump in the audio and story. I don't know how much is missing but for such an expensive book I'm disappointed.
I've submitted a report to audible in the hopes this can be fixed and if so I will update my review accordingly.
I have to admit I'd never heard of Jasper Fforde before finding this novel on Audible. Therefore I can't compare it to his previous works, but I don't think that's necessary.
This is just SUCH a stand alone master piece I don't know where to begin. It has the perfect touch of Douglas Adam's humour with a very Huxley style dystopia. It's highly reminiscent of Brave New World for me but with added gags and a very British comedy.
The writing is superbly paced and never slow. It does take a while for the twists to be revealed, but that is what kept me enthralled with the story the whole time. There was such an undercurrent of creepy disrest that you just know something is around the corner to shock you.
With a brilliant twist and poignancy at the end for the main characters it leads into a series beautifully. I can't wait for Fforde to release the follow up.
As for the narration I'm really surprised to read reviews saying that there's no way to tell the difference between the characters. The reason John Lee is one of my favourite (and very acclaimed) narrators is his ability to distinguish different voices without being overly dramatic and silly about it. It might be too subtle for some people? But his use of different regional accents and tones is just perfect for my ears. I love listening to the books he narrates while I work so the fact that I never get confused between the characters even while working away should be testament to his skill as a narrator.
I simply cannot wait for the next book and I hope when it's made into audible form it will be John Lee narrating.
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