I like Bear's books, and I am sure that I would enjoy this one, but the narrator is dismal. He singsongs through the whole thing, as if he is bored of the story. It doesn't matter what he is saying, the cadence never changes, and it certainly doesn't reflect (let alone enhance) the story. He sounds petulant, like a father reading a book to a child he desperately wants to put to sleep.
Is it just this book? No. I made the mistake of picking up another by this same narrator (Paul of Dune - don't do it!) I lasted about 5 minutes in that one. It took about 90 minutes in this one before I just couldn't take it any more. I think the book has a lot of promise, but not in this format.
When it comes to audiobooks, there are two essential parts - first, that the book be a good book; and second, that the narrator is a good one. I made the mistake of buying this on the merits of the book, and didn't check the narrator.
The narrator, Scott Brick, is dreadful. After I bought this, I lasted about 5 minutes before his singsong reading with dramatic emphasis on words that don't deserve it drove me to distraction. Then I realized that I had bought one of his readings before (Darwin's Children - also lousy). The narrator disappointed several of that recording's reviewers, several describing his reading as overly melodramatic on every sentence. Every. Single. Sentence.
Brick has 393 books listed on Audible, and it seems to me that this is part of the problem. I suspect that every read he does is the first time he has seen the text, and although he is trying to do a dramatic reading, he doesn't know how the current sentence is going to end, let alone how it connects to the next one. I think he's reading the words, but not the story. It's like watching a soap opera with the actors reading off teleprompters because the scripts weren't ready for them to read ahead of time.
It's a shame, really. I learned my lesson on this one and now check the narrator and listen to the sample on every book I am considering. It means, however, that some very good-sounding books (e.g., the Quantum Thief) are now ruined for audio listening - I doubt very much that Audible will re-record them with a competent reader. I do know that were I an author, I would be devastated to find out he was reading my book.
I enjoy a variety of Star Trek books on audio and in paper. These are no exception, and Peter David is one of my all-time favorite Trek authors. However, the narrator delivers the majority of the dialogue in a stilting, almost painful, manner. Other reviewers likened it to James T. Kirk's speech, but I find it much more difficult to listen to than Shatner's Kirk. I am seriously considering simply buying the books to read, so I can finish the story without having to suffer any longer. Story: 4 stars. Narration: 0 stars
Take advantage of the option to hear a sample or download the first chapter. I find the narrator very difficult to listen to, and I'd never be able to make it through the whole book. His reading is stilted and dull, with no inflection and bad accents. Definitely one to try before you buy.
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