I have read many of Herbert's books. I found some of them good and others not so good. This book falls well within the "good" category.
Even though it was written over 20 years ago, its subject matter (systemic hatred, tribalism, terrorism, WMD, vengence, survival, redemption) addresses situations which could have been taken from today's headlines. I found it very thought provoking as well as entertaining.
I should have read the reviews first instead of just relying on the "average" customer ratings provided in the product blurb. After enduring this book--I absolutely, positively hated it, I revisted these reviews to see how I could be so out-of-sync with the other readers. I found, however, that most reviews had it right: this book is trash.
I used to believe that a 3 1/2 star rating would reliably indicate a decent book. In the future, I will have to restrict my choices to only books receiving 4+ stars. That is the only certain way to avoid the inflation effect that occurs when every book starts with 1 star and enough reviewers lacking good critical reading skills opt to grant garbage 5 stars.
I am a big fan of "period" pieces. "The Alienist", "The Name of the Rose" and "The Devil in the White City" are among my favorite books. I also enjoy experiencing unfamiliar settings and cultures. This, and the fact it won the Edgar, was why I chose to listen to this book. Unfortunately, I just could not get into it on any level. This caused my attention to the book to frequently drift. Replaying those parts I "skipped" did not seem to help. Maybe I was just having a bad day, or maybe the book was not as good as everyone else says it was. I will never know for there just is not anything there pulling me back into the story for a second listen.
This is a difficult book to judge. I can truthfully say it was well written, well read and engaging. Had I not also read "The Faithful Spy", I would have no problem giving this a big thumbs up. Unfortunately, it is largely a rehash of the earlier book. By itself, I would have to say it is worth reading. If, however, you have already enjoyed "Faithful", you may opt to pass on this given the gross similarities in plot, character, locale, etc.
The book had many fascinating ideas but the characterizations were, frankly, uninteresting at best and confusing at worst. These "characters"--whether human, virtual, cyborg, or whatever flavor, all spoke as though he, she or it were standing before a lectern. In no way would their conversations plausibly occur in any real or imagined world. I wish someone like Clark or Niven could have run with the author's ideas; that could have been some book.
To make matters worse, the reader droned on and on in an almost unintelligible brogue which would be very difficult for most American listeners. Please sample this first if you are still inclined to buy it.
The premise is improbable. The characters are flat. The story is dull. Don't make this the first Perry book to hear or it probably will be the last.
I have always enjoyed the author's books so, in a mad rush to select a book for an upcoming trip, I grabbed this one. I should have read the blurb. It's a kids book. Don't make the same mistake...unless you are getting this for your kids.
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