When they say that the truth is stranger then fiction they must have had this book in mind. At times it reads like a Crichton novel, the Andromeda Strain suddenly becoming tame after you realize that The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is non-fiction. The history, life, and events surrounding Henrietta leaves you in awe, makes you frustrated with rage, and tugs at your most empathetic feelings. From the first page, to the epilogue this book had my rapt attention. I found all the lives surrounding the HeLa cells a mix of chaos, miscommunication, good intentions, ignorance, hope, and a longing to understand. There were so many unfortunate events that just continued to over lap that it left the cells in a world similar to where they started. A metaphorical cancer eating away at the lives around it. The history and lives of the Lacks family is tragic and you can not help but feel for them. As outsiders looking in it is easy for us to say, "I understand what is going on, why didn't *insert question". But looking at this from the Lacks point of view is terrifying. The world is out to get them and their suspicions are just reaffirmed by con artists, shifty doctors, and a lack of understanding. At the same time though, you can not lay blame on the original doctors for doing what they did. It was not out of malice that they took the cells, or out of greed. They did it with the best of intentions, but as my mother always said, good intentions pave the road to hell. The doctors/scientists were swept up in a breakthrough and before they knew it it was being produced on a massive scale.
It is a riveting read and you find yourself learning a lot without even knowing it.
I read this about a decade ago and apparently my young, immature, soft mind could not adequately grasp the meaning of this book. Having read it a second time after life has had a chance to have its way with me. I feel that I have matured enough to begin to understand its philosophy. I was very surprised to find that the more things change the more they stay the same in the world. Economy is going to hell, our own "class" system is in the toilet, the poor and impoverished scrape to get buy, and the rich get richer. If this had not been written before the 1900's I would have said someone was trying to cash in on a social statement. As it stands it is a truly, epic, piece of work. Raskolnikov is everyone of us that has suffered and wanted so desperately for a way out that we contemplate the un-doable. Our troubling times now, seem to be reflected in the writing then. At times I felt I was reading about myself as life comes crumbling down around Raskolnikov. His own deeds chase him relentlessly, his guilt and anxiety worse then any sentence another man could lay upon him. It is a deep, albiet wordy philosophical journey. Although do not read too much between the lines. There are too many people trying to find symbols and metaphor where there are only words. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
There was so much promise in the first book. It was as if Del Toro was brought from screen to page. He reinvented a genre that was in bad need of a face lift. Too many sparkly vampires and angst filled cliches are floating around in the media. We really needed a good old Bram Stoker take on it. The first book delivered in spades, the universe they had set up held so much potential. The characters were well developed and the plot clipped along at an entertaining and engaging pace. And then came the second book, while not as good as the first it felt like was reaching for the same goal.
I really wanted the third book to breath life back into the series. Del Toro is one of my favorite writer/directors and I held faith that the final chapter of his story would offer an original and engaging revival. Instead, as I listened, the atmosphere disappeared, the characters became wooden and shallow, and the plot meandered about as if concussed. I was bored. I am not sure if the story was trying to be too many things at once or just had an identity crisis. Post-apocalyptic/vampire/political drama/world domination/existence of God/whatever. Things were explained too late in the game, or just out right poorly placed within the story. It seemed like this last novel was phoned in, as if the writers just got tired of telling the story and just threw a bunch of fluff at their overall outline.
I'm sitting here still trying to decide if I liked it or not. As a trilogy I would say it is an ok read. Something to kill time between your favorite series. As the third installment, I would say it is the poorest of the three.
I really was hoping for something to give vampires back their dignity. Now I dread another "I am legend" abortion on the big screen. Poor Matheson, that poor bastard needs one of his books done properly. As for Del Toro, I think he supplied a solid world and a setting that had vast potential. I am not sure where the break down occurred but something slipped in the second book and fell flat on its face in the third.
On a side note, while the narrator was solid, you just cannot beat Ron Perlman.
I came into this with only two expectations. I expected to read a sprawling character driven epic by Anderson, and I expected vast political intrigue Donner hinted at in the original Superman movie. I was let down on both counts. KJA's normally well thought out, unique characters were non existent. Names could have been swapped mid story and it would not have made a difference in the character interactions. Two dimensional, cliched, and formulaic archetypes filled the book. Jor-el is supposed to be a stoic, genius who stands firm against the wall ignorance. Instead he is boiled down into a panicky doomsayer that does little more then pour gasoline on an open flame and act surprised when he gets burned. Zod is made out to be a sniveling megalomaniac that is so short sighted that he can not see past his own nose. He starts off with grand plans wrapped around subtly and devolves into a tyrant with an IQ of 50. The rest of Krypton seems to be filled with herds of sheep content with drooling on themselves and following anyone that can string a sentence together. I am not utterly convinced this was written by Anderson, the writing is stilted and juvenile. The plot overly simplified and so shallow that my feet could not even get wet. As for the political intrigue, you might as well ask a five year old about the politics in their favorite pokemon cartoon. I desperately wanted this to be good. Krypton needs a powerful backstory and a rich culture. It needs a grand send off to spawn one of the most iconic heroes of our time. All it received in the end was the equivalent to a popcorn kernel popping. When an iconic statement such as "Kneel before Zod" is treated in such a way that it loses all of its power I weep for what could have been.
Marlon Brando moved me to tears with his portrayal of Jor-el. Andersons portrayal moves me to tears in an entirely different fashion.
I have one major problem with this book that completely shatters its already shaky plot. A man that steals 100,000$ from the mob to protect his beloved mother and sister would NOT be confused over what reality is. But through the book he shows nothing but contempt for his family. They are irrelevant to Tom. He could not seem to care about them in the least. He keeps claiming he does but when it comes down to it, when your "beloved" sister says THIS is reality, for me thats the end of the argument. For me my sisters word is gold. There is no other argument. The bats can say all they want, present all the proof they want, but I do not love them. I do not love their land or their people. Sure it may seem "overly" real, but when it comes down to it they are not family. You can make the argument that he thinks one or the other reality is real. But that argument boils down to one thing, who is he going to believe. Tom blatantly shrugs off his family for this alternate reality, he seems so ready to get rid of his family I began doubting his motivation for anything. He seems overly ignorant of the things going on around him and lives in his own little fantasy world outside of the two that he already "exists" in. If Ignorance is Bliss, then Tom is Ignorance and his "dreams" are his Bliss.
Plus the 50 or so mentions of the "Matrix" within the story made me roll my eyes every time. I mean, honestly, dig up a few more references... maybe some well written literary references, instead of a pop culture hodgepodge of ideas.
The religious allegories were almost as bad. I would say go back to the drawing board, do some more research, flesh out the characters motivation a little more and try not to ham it up. Reading this book is like watching a Hollywood Summer Blockbuster. Lots of flare and things shoved in your face for shock vale, but in the end the overall story and character development are left wanting.
Wow. I can not go back and look at the movie the same way. I have to say that the book goes leagues beyond what the movie could have. You get a real feeling of psychological drama and uncertainty. The story is not so much about a demon as it is about everyone dealing with their own personal demons. Faith, life, career, family, all pull and tug at the characters to make a truly thrilling tale. If your looking for a book of sword swing demon exterminators, or disgusting gore infused devils, go away. This is much more a psychological book then a "shock value" book. This has a depth with characters and thought that not many get into. So much subtext and emotion in the book was left out of the movie. It really grabs you and does not let go. Much different experience then what I thought it would be. I can honestly say I was not disappointed in the least. A great book.
First off let me start by saying, this book is not offensive, edgy, or even really that "erotic". It is in fact fairly boring and highly uneventful. I was told (when I asked what Palahniuk book to start with) that it had some brilliant subtext and original characters. What I got was subtext that was repeated so much that it was no longer subtext but text written 10 feet tall on a billboard. The sexual acts within the book were some of the most tame, uninspired,snooze fests I have ever read/listened to. Its not even the authors voice that does it in, his voice lends itself well to the story. This book should have been condensed to about half its length. I didn't need a million descriptions of why his mother is crazy/the anti anti hero. I get it, move on with the story. I don't need a million examples of his sex life, he's pathetic, I get it, move on. I don't need a million repetitions of repetitions to make me feel like I'm losing it with the character, I have a better imagination then that, I get it, move on. This story kind of meanders about in a little circle never really speaking out, never really making an impact. The characters seem very forced, like 2D characters bent in half to try to make them somewhat 3 dimensional. Its a book that tries to hard. Its like the kid in grade school you see desperately trying to color inside the lines, nearly shaking with frustration from trying to keep the crayons tip inside the treacherous little black lines. Someone needs to tell that kid that sometimes, its ok to color outside the lines. Don't try so hard, we're not stupid. We get it. Hope his other books don't disappoint.
I had read this trilogy a while back and simply loved it. Seeing that Audible had the electronic versions I jumped at the chance to listen to them while I work. Very colorfully written with poetic descriptions that suck you right into the story. The plot weaves itself back and forth and you really get a sense that there is alot more going on then just above the surface. All in all a great book.
However, the Narrators are some of the most awful readers I have ever heard. I listen to a good deal of audio books and rarely do I find a narrator that I cannot listen to. Most of the time if I have trouble with a narrator its because I cannot find their rhythm. All narrators have a spaeking rhythm that keeps you listening and keeps you mind working. These two utterly faild at any sort of rhythm. In fact they failed miserably at reading at all. It sounded as if they were a couple of second graders reading their first book outloud. No feeling, no rhythm, no inflection, no care. The man is the lesser of the two evils, he at least is bearable with his monotone voice and direct line reading. You may not get emotion or inflection of the scene from him but at least your ears do not begin to bleed at the sound of his voice. The woman however, is the worst reader I have ever heard. It sounds as if she is reading the lines directly from the page. One of the other reviewers had said that they had thought they were listening to a computer speak when they first heard her. That is an insult to computers. Her voice is very jarring and makes you want to throw the CD/headphones through a wall.
So in short
5*s for the Book itself
-1* for the man
-3* for the woman
If you like a good story and dont mind horrible narrators, I highly recommend this book.
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