This is a wonderful book, a literate and engaging political, futuristic, sci-fi, spy, thriller, travel, mystery, history, romance, picaresque, philosophical coming of age story. Yes, it defies type casting. It is so intriguing, it will send you straight to Google Maps satellite, Wikipedia, and maybe even the non-fiction stacks of the library. You will want to know more. I love to get my serious thinking with a spoonful of the sugar of imagination and plot. The heroes are many and all unlikely. The villains are bad enough, but not incredibly evil, actually real. The same might be said of the near future setting, which is entirely plausible. Well done, Ian McDonald! Jonathan Davis is a great narrator, managing to find just the right voice for each character without resorting to falsetto women and children or exaggerated accents. My one complaint is that, as the recording is paced, and I am sure this is editing, not narration, there is no pause between apparent chapters, resulting in a seamlessness inappropriate to the story. Just the littlest pause when the scene changes would have eliminated momentary senses of dislocation for the listener as the plot moved forward. This novel deserves to be listened to, but then read with leisure for thinking about McDonald's ideas.
Tana French moves the murder mystery far beyond "whodunit" into literature in three key elements: beautiful, poetic language, plot development, and character. Her powers of description are so engaging that, despite the sometimes harrowing scenes she sketches, a reader must fall a little in love with Ireland and the Irish. "In the Woods" called back the memory of childhood summers, you'll want to live in a noisy nosy Irish neighborhood after "Faithful Place," and "The Likeness" made me long for the special friendships that grow nowhere but graduate school. Odd comments on gruesome murder mysteries, wouldn't you agree? You decide which nostalgia or desire "Broken Harbor" wakes in you.
In "Broken Harbor," French, as usual, weaves love and delight expertly with disgust and despair. Stephen Hogan's narration brings a new dimension to mental illness. Neither writer nor narrator will allow you to dismiss or hate a character without seeing that character as a whole person.
"Broken Harbor" is not an easy listen; it is challenging. But it is also rewarding and well worthwhile.
is a writer's golden rule Jim Fergus did not learn. His premise is interesting. The language and tone of the "letters" are authentic. However, a long list of stock characters (the big ugly cheerful immigrant woman, the Irish rouges, the queenly black former slave woman) destroys the novel's masquerade as a true account. It is tedious and predictable, and when Mr. Fergus slides into soft pornography, he abandons his pretense completely.
So many books, so little time. NO time for this one.
Although I can understand why this book may be disturbing to some people, I think that it is its point, isn't it? If you are willing to read (or listen) to Skippy Dies as a comedy, you will laugh at absurdity but you will also be forced to confront ugly truth. Isn't that humor at its best? Paul Murray's neatly planned and resolved plot and his vernacular dialogue are nothing less than Shakespearean. I loved the many voices narrating the book; I loved the book.
This is one of those books that seems made to be listened to, or perhaps it's just that Anna Bentinck is such a skilled narrator. David Nicholls' painfully ironic, hilarious, sad and finally redemptive comedy of manners couldn't possibly come off as well in print. I don't believe I could've caught on how desperately unfunny Ian is without Anna Bentinck's dopey voices. A printed page could never convey the lightness or bitterness or love of the banter between great friends.
I'm ten years older than the characters in the novel, and thought at first I would not be interested. I might not have read the novel, but the narrator pulled me in. Her tone, her facility with accents, even her pace seem perfect for this novel. Bentnick pauses and alters the volume of her voice just enough to allow a listener to follow the shifts in time that give structure to Nicholls' plot. The story itself is grounded in a particular time and place, yet Nicholls touches universal longings. I am impressed with Nicholls' ability to be absolutely honest without making the reader cringe. His language is spare and direct. He writes so beautifully I can almost forgive him for murder.
I joined Audible back when they sent you an Otis listening device. This is the first audio book I really just cannot listen to.
There have been some books I haven't found particularly appealing, and some few I didn't finish. Occasionally the narrators have been irritating or have not seemed right for the story.
However, not one has been a downright disaster, as the Luanne Rice/Alexandra O'Karma combination is. O Karma (surely this is a made-up name?) sounds depressed or bored or both. Her tone, or lack thereof, just drags my spirits down. She provokes that uneasy state of being very sleepy, but unable to fall asleep because of distressing thoughts. Her voice would make the most cheerful book seem tragic, and the most hilarious book boring. Added to Luanne Rice's preposterous plot, romance novel standard description, and determined torture of her characters, O'Karma's narration drags this tale of disaster to unendurable depths of disbelief.
But that is not all. O'Karma is the first narrator I have been able to hear licking her lips, swallowing, pulling her tongue from her palate. Why didn't someone give the woman a glass of water? She's just too irritating for words. Literally.
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