First off, the narration by Derek Jacobi was very good. No complaints there.
My problem is with the portrayal of Holmes. It just wasn't Holmesian. I've read the originals, loved many of the adaptations on TV and film, but this story just didn't cut it. Holmes is much less than his marvelous self. Not terribly quick witted, or even very bright. When he does trot out his expertise it's done in the manner of a side show magic act. Certainly not the way Holmes would have done it.
Many of the actions Holmes takes in the book just aren't things Holmes would have done. For example, Holmes went into an opium den, as himself, to find facts. Never in a million years. Holmes would have disguised himself and infiltrated!
I tried to separate the Holmes that I know and just read the story as a mystery. I didn't have much success. Part of the love I've had for the Sherlock Holmes stories is his wit, near infallibility, and clever ways of uncovering facts. All of these are absent.
If you want more Holmes, as Holmes himself, try the Laurie King books.
I loved the first in this series. The second in the series left a lot to be desired. The third and final, having been raved about and won awards, was highly anticipated. Sadly a disappointment.
The book feels like a number of random remembrances by the central characters. They join up now and then, but basically their lives and stories are independent. The story line, and the characters, seem to lack emotion and substance, ambling from one scene to the next.
I'm following, but it's an apathetic journey.
I'm a fan of post-apocalyptic novels, and have read a lot of them. I'm not a fan of what seems to be the current state of the genre, in which most of the story is spent detailing the worst of humanity, which seems to triumph and lay waste to what remains. Worlds in which only the selfish, greedy and vicious seem to survive.
Breakdown tells the story of a man who has been scarred by his experience of loss and how he's endured what the world has thrown at him. Most of it things he'd rather forget. He's looking for his family, but takes a detour which offers him a chance to begin to heal.
I loved it. The characters were rich, the world was believable, and the ever present human spirit and general goodness of most people seems to triumph. Maybe I'm unrealistic, but I tend to think this is a more accurate reflection of the world "after" than the gun-toting survivalists that spend their time decimating the population and laying waste. At least I hope so.
The Martian is an unexpected delight. I love science fiction with real science. I'm not particularly scientific, but things have to make sense for me. The Martian fills the bill and has some really likeable characters, great pacing, and instead of evil people providing the challenges, space and the planet Mars have all the diabolical consequences anyone needs for plenty of suspense.
The story begins when a Martian exploration team is caught in a serious dust storm and has to evacuate the planet. Unfortunately, one of the crew is battered by flying debris and, when his space suit shows no sign of life and his body is lost in the storm, the remaining crew has to leave the body behind to evacuate before they are all killed in the storm.
When the lost crewman turns out to be alive, and learns he has been left behind, he decides to find a way to survive until the next exploration team arrives. Unfortunately the time to their arrival exceeds the amount of supplies he has, and there is no way for him to communicate with the departing ship or earth, to let them know he's alive. The Martian is his story, as well as the story of the other crew members and the team on earth, and how they try to bring him back home.
Mark Watney, the stranded astronaut, is witty, inventive and would be a really fun guy to hang out with, which I did for almost 11 hours in the audiobook. Highly recommended for an enjoyable read with minimal whining and a lot of optimism. Plus a lot of invention from creating arable soil for the Thanksgiving potatoes to creating oxygen from hydrogen while not being incinerated.
This book sits alongside one of my all time favorite books about the inventiveness and goodness of mankind, Neville Shute's "Trustee from the Toolroom". The Martian is a modern story with great characters, a lot of suspense, optimism and ingenuity making for an entertaining read.
This book hit most of my hot/dislike buttons. Everything goes wrong for the protagonist, even if it's completely unlikely. People you think are dead reappear, when it's really implausible, the bad guys reappear like the terminator robots. The main characters make one stupid move after another. I could have taken both of those flaws and set them aside if it wasn't for the ending. Once again more bad guys come along and try to do in our heroine. And of course nothing turns out well.
If this was a book written about a period 50 years ago I'd go along with it, but basic forensic evidence would have cleared the woman. There were enough bodies and bullets, along with a main character that was suffering from dehydration and exhaustion. Oh come on.
I would have given it a one overall, but the reader did a good job in spite of the story.
But I still hated it.
I don't know why it is, but it often seems that the YA genre is able to express the poignancy of human experience and emotion in ways that adult fiction rarely seems to grasp. That is definitely true for "The Fault in Our Stars." It doesn't take much to make a story of teens with terminal cancer sad and miserable, but in John Green's book there is joy, happiness, love, friendship and more for the taking.
In the story teens meet at a counseling session at a church that seems to be of much greater benefit to the parents sending them there than for the kids. But relationships form, and they all seem to know the score, and take their losses as well as their illnesses as a part of life.
Adventures happen, relationships are formed, love happens and throughout there is honesty, sincerity and just plain humanity. I've got a few favorite quotes by the characters that are well worth remembering and sharing such as "We are all just barnacles on the container ship of consciousness." Much wisdom from the mouth of teens.
Much to love, laugh and cry for in this story both well written and well read.
I realize that's an odd title for a review, but it pretty much sums up how I feel about the book. This is less a review than a compare and contrast to similar books in the genre, so beware there are some serious spoilers. I found it hard to do otherwise, which is probably one reason I enjoyed this book so much.
I've read a lot of post-apocalyptic novels, from On the Beach to The Stand, to The Postman, War of the Worlds, and many others. There is something about this "sub-genre" that appeals to me, probably the idea that anything can be overcome if a few good people will step up to the challenge.
What strikes me in Earth Abides, is the difference between a novel written in its time, vs the novels written in the present. Today's novels are filled more warring factions and pillagers, murderers and rapists, while the books written in the past are more about the individual's struggle to come to grips with the loss and how to cope. Frankly I would wish for humanity to behave more like the earlier books, and less like the latter. I hope I never have to find out the real answer to the question though.
A common thread in most of these books, take S.M. Stirling's Emberverse series for example, is to rebuild civilization including technology and the societal structure. In Earth Abides, the population is generally content to live among the ruins, and forage from the canned goods and have few worries about tomorrow. Although personally I was frustrated about their choices, on the other hand isn't it possible a better civilization might come of it? The children grew further and further apart from the past as the generations continued. They knew little of the past and saw no reason to emulate the ever acquisitive and technologically advancing society of the past. They evolved more into hunter-gatherers and, if it continued, would have been much more like Native Americans than any other society I can think of.
I suppose, more than anything, my review proves the book is thought provoking and interesting. After pondering the differences, I have to say that it's a kinder, gentler, and perhaps much better society than emerges. But that's just one opinion.
It is amazing to me how Robert A. Heinlein can continue to be so relevant, in a genre that is about the future, in books that were written in the 1950's. I may have an advantage over younger readers, in that I've lived in a world before silicon became embedded in our lives. But I think that it's more than that.
In Citizen of the Galaxy Heinlein has created interesting and sympathetic characters, throws in greed in the form of slavery, and fashions it into a wonderful story. There are good guys and bad guys, but no superheroes, and no evil villains. They're all pretty much human, although I have to use that term loosely. This is science fiction after all.
Lloyd James also does a wonderful job with the narration.
For the most part, for a little light reading I'm happy to put common sense and reality aside. In this case it was stretched to the breaking point. Oddly enough the characters were believable enough to enjoy in their interactions.
What drove me crazy was the implausibility of the outside world. A large vet practice without a vet tech, but with a helicopter (there were extenuating circumstances, but I just can't believe it). An animal rescue picking up a pack of stray dogs and putting those dogs and a small pet dog into the back of a car and expecting all to go well. Raccoons causing an entertaining ruckus stealing eggs, but not killing and eating the chickens.
I realize that I do let a lot of reality go by the wayside when reading escapist fiction, but in this case it felt irresponsible.
If anyone actually attempted to run a kennel and rescue the way the main character did in this story there would be injury and more.
Read it for a little light reading, but be sure not to take anything in the story as a reflection of reality.
An enjoyable ride with a few laugh out loud lines. Slightly off the normal track of the vampire romance, which made it a lot more fun.
Often when I've picked up a science fiction novel that I enjoyed in the past, I find it's just too dated both in technology and in character that it no longer works for me. I've read this book before, but probably at least 30 years ago. I loved it then, and I was pleased to find that I love it just as much now, if not more.
Lloyd James performs the narration narration extremely well, with just the right tone for all the characters. Although written in 1966, it wears time well. You can understand the references to nation states and political thought of the time, but it's also as easy to just go with the story without reference to the past. Of course, even the expectations of technology weren't on the mark, it doesn't matter to the story, in spite of one of the main characters actually being a computer.
Well written, wonderful characters and story.
Stranger in a Strange Land, also written by Heinlein, has long been one of my favorite books. I think Moon has climbed up that list after this listening.
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