I don't read romance novels because I simply don't enjoy them. So when I get one disguised as a suspense novel, I feel cheated and very annoyed. The lovesick character's illogical actions and the never ending passages professing his undying love had me skipping through the whole book until the last hour when I just couldn't take it any more and deleted the audio off my iphone. I had zero interest in finding out whodunnit and why.
Much like the movie, 'Our Song', that was it's inspiration, this book starts out with great promise but then meanders to an unsatisfying ending. The last chapter was frenetic, with the author focusing on all the chaotic personal relationships of the main character sacrificing a cohesive story. The plot falls apart, leaving the ending in shambles. The inspiring story of AnnMarie deserved a more deft hand at concluding the reader's journey with such a complex character.
1. Listen to the book at 1.5 times normal speed if you have any hope of being able to tolerate the narrator's abnormally slow paced reading and odd pauses mid sentence.
2. Lower your expectations for any type of suspense, drama or originality in the plot. "Twists and turns" are clumsily telegraphed way before the story catches up.
3. Prepare to hate the protagonist. You will wish for his capture or torturous death. Or both.
4. Seriously question Audible's recommendations from now on.
The best thing about this book? The narration, pure, plain and simple. The way Will Patton bends the timbre of his voice around the words of the story almost steals your attention away from the novel. The overall story is also excellent. Well paced with just the right amount of tension, poignant moments and even romance; it was a very easy listen. In today's world of terrorist suicide bombs and chemical/germ warfare, the Russian Nuclear Threat storyline seems almost quaint.
The only real issue I had with this book and why I say it is very obvious it was written in the 50s is the role the Henry family plays in the story. As the only black family represented in the book, they are viewed in an extremely paternalistic way by the main character. Also, their only reason for existing seems to be to provide for the main character and his adopted family. In a world suddenly plunged into starvation and deprivation , water, chickens, hogs, vegetables and even a life is given by/taken from the Henrys to accommodate Randy Bragg. He seems to expect these sacrifices as his due.
Still, overall, this book is definitely a riveting listen that I would recommend with no reservation.
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