The best description I can think of for this book is that it is the literary equivalent of a movie on the SyFy channel. In other words, entertaining plot,often unintentionally humorous, not the greatest writer and the WORST narrator! Oh my god, maybe I'm just spoiled with the likes of Craig Wasson and George Guidall, but this guy. Everyone sounded the same, men, women, the elderly. There were a couple characters that he attempted accents for, but often he would forget they had accents, and they'd sound like everyone else and the accents were hilariously bad to begin with! And the characters themselves, thanks to the inexpert craftsmanship of the author, were ridiculously one-dimensional and cliche and at times, borderline racist. I mean the team of paranormal investigators consisted of a mysterious Spaniard, a wise Native American, and a tech savvy inventor referred to on numerous occasions as a former "gang banger" or looking like a "gang banger." Yeah, bad. And the narrators attempts at sounding African American, hilarious. So, in short, I enjoyed this book like I enjoy an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was a non-stop hilarious romp! Sadly, however, that was probably not the author's intention.
Turns out, Danny Torrence has had a very rough time since the events of The Shining! This was another excellent Stephen King choice. I would have gone with 5 stars overall, but I'm using 11/22/63 and Joyland as my measuring stick and this one didn't quite resonate with me as much as those two, but it was a very excellent and meaningful story. The story moved at a good pace and was very quick to draw me in; took me less than a week to read, I think! As always, King's characters were very well developed and easy to care about. And, on the opposite end, he also gave us some pretty despicable villains, monsters, really, and some great and terrible moments of horror and fright. In addition to the entertainment value, there were also the deeper themes of death, redemption and forgiveness to reflect on. This was an excellent pick and very much worth the immediate use of my precious credit, I was not in the least disappointed and I know I will listen to this one again. Oh, and a nice choice this close to Halloween, too!
This was a very good story. Part romance, part coming of age, I was drawn in pretty quickly and found myself immersed in the world of a depression era circus. I appreciate a story that is able to clearly present the reader with a sense of it's time and place and this story does a great job of depicting this world of which I knew very little. It was easy to become immersed in this world. The characters were very well done and easy to care about. My reasons for not rating this story higher are twofold. First, I think a major problem for me was having seen the movie beforehand. The movie did a very nice job with the adaptation and followed the story very closely, it is definitely worth watching. My issue was with the character of August, who is the villain of the story, and the narrator's portrayal. The book has 2 narrators as the story is set up as a flashback of sorts so we go between Jacob at 93 and Jacob as a young man. The elder Jacob was fantastic and really made me feel for the character. The other narrator did a fine job with other characters and Jacob, but his voice for August was very nasal and off-putting. I think I was spoiled by having seen Christoph Waltz as the character in the movie. Part of what is interesting about this character as a villain is that he can be very charming and likeable but can change to anger and cruelty at a moments notice. Waltz was so good in the movie, but the narrator just did not get that aspect of the character across for me and so it made the story a bit less enjoyable because this character was not quite as interesting as in the movie. My second issue was with the animal cruelty. Being a circus and the Great Depression, animals were treated very poorly and there were several terrible instances of violence towards animals, mostly from August. Jacob, who was studying to become a veterinarian, is of course as appalled as the reader, but he is powerless to do anything throughout most of the story. Much violence is inflicted against the circus' elephant, Rosie, who was such a lovely character and it was very heartbreaking to listen to. So, potential readers, be cautioned. This is a story worth listening too, but you may find it difficult at times. I had to snuggle my kitties a lot after listening. They didn't seem to mind, though!
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