I was surprised and disappointed to discover that this novel just isn't that good. Despite a good narrator, large chunks of this book are boring. Usually, if a movie is based on a novel, and you like the movie, then the novel will add layers of enjoyment to the film. With Fight Club, though, the quality of the movie just ruins this mediocre novel. If you loved the movie, just watch it again and leave this book on the shelf.
First, the narrator. I don't know if all Audible subscribers have a choice, but being in Japan, I was given the choice of the USA and the UK versions. They differed by only one minute in length. I listened to both samples (which covered the same part of the narrative) and chose the British one because it seemed more expressive, and the characters depicted in the short portrayal seemed to me to be better differentiated. Just in case anyone is curious, I'm an American from Boston.
Also, as an aside, I completely loved the moments when the narrator's father sounded just like Eddie Izzard.
At the moment, I'm just a few chapters in on the second of the four segments of this novel, and I am already disappointed that it will someday come to an end. This novel by this narrator is astoundingly good. If some recommendation or other has brought you this far, then this is without any doubt the best book you will listen to this year.
While listening to this book on various busses, subways and while cycling and walking, there have been moments so tender that tears spilled from my eyes, which is embarrassing. There have been moments so fierce that I've probably pumped my fist. I've actually laughed aloud. I've grinned fiercely. This is a talented storyteller telling a tale that's well constructed. The characters are alive. I'm so happy that I am experiencing this story.
I came upon this book through a "This Week in Tech" podcast in which one of the pundits said that someone influential in the tech field had once said that he judged people by their reaction to this novel. If a person didn't like this novel, the story went, then that person was deficient in some essential way that made that person not worth doing business with. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but that was enough to make me want to listen to the book.
All I knew about the book was that it was in the fantasy genre, the writing was supposed to be good, and that it was a kind of "coming of age" tale. I couldn't figure out in the beginning whose coming of age it was supposed to be, so the tale evolved around me in a very interesting way. I think this is a good way to experience the book, so I'm not telling you any more details about this book.
Just so that you have a perspective on where I'm coming from: I'm mainly a sci-fi reader, not space opera but the techie sci-fi, but I also like good spy novels. I'm not really much of a fantasy guy outside of what I read before college. I also like modern fiction and good writing in general; my favorite writer is Milan Kundera, but I'm eclectic in my tastes. Having said that, I'm telling you that this is really good writing (regardless of genre).
If you like quality writing, great characters and a good storyline, and if you are not squeamish about sword fighting, and if you enjoy a bit of speculative fiction (whether sci-fi, fantasy or magic realism), you will love this book. I suppose there are some people who won't love it, but, has has been said before by others, those aren't really the type of people I think I'd enjoy knowing anyway.
This book was a slow climb up Calgary Hill as insurmountable yet apparently easily vanquished foes inflict injury after injury on our unstoppable hero. I was initially excited to start in on book one of a new series, but this soon turned into a comic book for me; I just could not in any way find this tale credible. There were a few wry laughs along the way, but the biggest one was unintentional, I'm sure: A woman who had helped our hero witnesses him kill, and from then seems to consider him "an animal" ... by which the author means she was distant, maybe disgusted, but this woman was A VETERINARIAN'S ASSISTANT, she *loves* animals!
OK, your mileage may vary with this book and its series. I'm giving up on it. The guy just runs along like a video game character, blasting left and right, with dumb luck playing such a major role. If you're into assassins and you want to start an interesting series, I'd recommend skipping this and jumping into Barry Eisler's series about John Rain. Rain is also kind of super-human, but the books are filled with tactics, planning and intelligence.
However, please read the other reviews. The author has obviously made a career out of writing books in this series, so there must be people who like this type of story. I just know that I'm not one of them.
Barry Eisler does a good job reading this book. His voice for John Rain made me think of the Japanese guy who played Rain in the movie version of the first novel. If you're a fan, you know that the readings of the audiobooks have been uneven -- worst was when the narrator of the John Reacher books read it, and made Rain sound like a 6'5" slugger. In this novel, the characters sound the way we'd expect them to.
This is classic John Rain, familiar without redundancies. The narration alternates well between first-person John Rain and third person narrators to follow other characters. I don't want to give any of the story away, so I'll just say, if you like John Rain, you will be very happy with this novel.
The story takes place on a planet 150 light years from Earth. We meet Jack, a prospector for the mining corporation that holds exclusive rights to exploit the uninhabited planet's resources. The day the story starts is a busy day for Jack: he discovers a rich vein of valuable minerals, and later discovers a new type of creature trapped in his house.
This book is an engaging remake of a classic story. It's the sci fi we loved as kids (new planets, amusing creatures, cool gadgets), modernized (how was it that none of the classic sci fi ever really got the idea of modern computers or the internet?).
However, if the old style sci fi was often called "cowboys in space" due to the shoot-'em-up frontier town attitudes of the main characters, this modernization brings in the current craze for courtroom dramas: call it "lawyers in space"? So, if you hate John Grisham novels, you'll dislike a good chunk of this book.
Also, there are times when you're wondering how the characters could be so stupid as to not see what is plainly obvious, so it's the experience of knowing ahead of time what the characters are taking their time discovering.
Finally, understand that the novel is only 7 hours long (7:19). At the end of Part 1, the novel is finished. Part 2 is actually the novel that this one was based on. I haven't listened to that one yet. If you're not the type who would go watch earlier versions of modern re-make movies, then you may not be into listening to what is (probably) nearly the same story twice, so if you've budgeted for 14 hours of listening, please understand that you're actually getting only half of that.
This is a touching story with a modern twist to it. It'd make a good movie.
I wish I read this when it came out in 1993, because it would have been amazing. Now, I just can't get past everything the author got wrong about the world. If you don't mind sitting through descriptions of technology that are now either commonplace or already out of date, you'll like this. The Metaverse is like a crowded street in Second Life that can hold about 10% of the people who are on facebook right now, and who have to travel from place to place (no portals, etc.). We learn that video tape is cheap, so helicopters decide to take a short video. (These days, digital video constantly records.) We learn in great detail about the electronic map system that help our hero deliver pizza -- yeah, you've got a better digital navigation system in your car. We're still returning video tapes to the store. In 2011, with the Internet and Google, YouTube, Second Life, etc., this book is like a weird alternative universe in which microchips and memory never got powerful or cheap. It seems good (I'm still in the early parts of the book) but I don't know how much longer I can listen.
I stopped listening to it a few hours in because it seemed to consist of a series of long monologues, like testimony and people telling long, rambling stories. The characters behind these stories had their own identities and voices, so that much of it was enjoyable, but I just found my attention drifting too much.
The narrator, Dick Hill, was great in the "Jack Reacher" novels (Bad Luck and Trouble, etc.), but he's not as good here. He's certainly able to portray huge self-confidence and swagger, but John Rain is not a person who stands out in a crowd; his confidence is quiet and subtle. Hill also struggles with the Japanese language, and one Japanese character sounds Mexican when he speaks English.
The narrator of Rain Fall (the first novel in the series) was much better. He obviously could speak Japanese.
These books are great for a look into Japan. Eisler has a knack for the apt description of Japanese behavior, customs and mind-set.
There are many voices on this production, which makes the listening experience much richer than expected. If you liked the book, you will love this audio recording.
The voice of this sneering, pompous luddite makes you want to pop him in the nose. He must be preaching to the choir, because I found his reasoning to be utterly unconvincing. If I owned the actual paper book, I'd use it for kindling.
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