I came to this book with high expectations, mostly based on the four and five star reviews. Stephen King is an amazing writer, and his descriptive prose, with all the little nuances of life attached is excellent, but this book just doesn't grab and draw you in. I had a similar problem with 11-22-63. I got half way through and decided I just didn't like any one character enough to warrant the time to finish the book. In 11-22-63, I just didn't like the protagonist. In The Stand, there are a lot of characters, and King spends a lot of time building back stories for most of them, but he does that at the expense of plot tension. If you are into character development and find that as interesting as plot twists and plot tension, then this is a book for you, otherwise be forewarned. In a book about the near destruction of humanity and society as we know it, there is not a lot of tension, in fact, Kings post apocalyptic world is a pretty dull and boring place. The narration however is nearly flawless, but it couldn't save the book for me.
There is an overtly religious theme here that I didn't expect from King. I am not sure what the book wants to be, a novel about the potential destruction of humanity; man's spirit and ability to rebound and overcome; or the final conflict and battle between monotheists and evil. In any case, I think you should be a fan of King's writings, or a fan of long drawn out character development to get the most out of this book. I'm not really either of those two things, and I was bored and so gave up about half way through the book. I really wanted to like this book, but that just didn't happen.
Do you like the dialogue level of writing in Scooby Doo cartoons? Then you'll slide right through this book without a cringe. This is written at a sixth grade level, and that is being generous. The authors concept is interesting, and full of potential, but it remains unfullfilled. There is zero character development through events, and zero plot tension, at least in the first half of the book. I couldn't go any further. It was boring. All you learn about the characters is through the dialogue, and did I mention it is inane. Example: he said, "insert four words here", she said "insert five words here", he said "insert one word here". That's how all the dialogue is written. I guess it wouldn't have been so obviously bad except the reader drones in a monotone, put you to sleep voice. Fortunately every sentence of dialogue is preceded by he said, she said so you know which character is speaking, but there are no unique voices or characterization for anyone except a few transient characters. It's poorly written and poorly read, but probably still good for 5th and 6th graders who have an interest in magic and Scooby Doo.
Better brush up on your Japanese cartoons, robots and movies, and do a 1980's bad movie marathon before you pick up this book. It's very listenable, sort of Marty McFly meets the Hunger Games.
If you don't know who Speed Racer is or Ultraman, you might want to skip this book. For full enjoyment, some high level of geek knowledge is required, but if you are looking for something not to heavy, full of pop culture references and a fairly decent plot line, then I would recommend this book. I caught about 75% of the references, but near the end of the book, I just wanted to shout, "Enough with the Japanese Robots!". There is a feeble love story plot line, but nothing for a serious geek to worry about ruining the book, and those sections go by fast, so you won't feel at all uncomfortable when you realize just how disconnected we are in this technological world, the same as the main charcaters.
But it is a save the world sort of novel, and we are saved in the end by the misfits, so it has enough redemming virtues to get a solid buy recommendation.
At times this book soared close to a five star rating, but then the eight grade level dialog kicked in and it dragged the whole listening experience down. He said, she said, Vernon said. There are entire passages of dialog written like this with only one or two word sentences. "I know' he said. "Right" Vernon said. "Well, I guess that's it" he said. On and on this goes and you want to just scream, 'Stop it, write something interesting!" I once read where every sentence of dialog should add to the story. With some of Ringo's writing, it's about every 20 or 30 sentences of dialog. It is painful to listen to at times.
However there are some parts of this book that have an extremely clever plot line and some decent writing, but be prepared for long stretches where nothing much is said or done. Also, there is a lot of technical descriptions that seem overdone. The author uses far too many acronyms to keep track of in an audio book: VDA, BDA, BVD, IDF, and at least twenty more. It's very confusing. This might be a book you want to read the traditional way.
A good editor could cut about a 1/3 of this book out and end up with a five star novel. This is the only time I have ever made this sort of recommendation, but if there is an abridged version of this book in the future, that would be the one to buy.
I downloaded this title because it looked like an interesting topic, certainly a timely topic. I had two problems with it though; first, the author constantly and repeatedly keeps saying the phrase eraser killers. I understand. You want to coin a new term for a certain type of killer, you want to make sure you get credit for a new term, but after the thirty third time of hearing how and why she calls these men erasers in the first hour of the book, I wanted to scream, "I get it", now tell me something interesting. That is the second problem, the writing just wasn't interesting and in some cases downright confusing, and mostly just boring. The author switches between killer subjects right in the middle of a paragraph and you are left thinking she is talking about one killer, when she is actually writing about someone else without any lead in or indication of a change. I went back and replayed one three minute segment three times because I thought I missed something or fast forwarded. No, I didn't miss anything. It was just as confusing the third time as the first. This seems like a great topic for a book, but I can't recommend this author or text, but I will give her the credit for creating a new term for a specific type of killer. I got that part.
Take a rip roaring adventure tale with honorable thieves, despicable tyrants, a secretly returned king, beautiful damsels, and of course a knight in shining armor and you have the story of Ivanhoe. As if that is not enough, I have to say, Michael Page's narration is astounding. He gives each character a unique accent and speech cadence and is so good I thought I was listening to real actors read individual parts. I wasn't crazy about his early voicing for Isaac of York, it seemed a bit over the top at times, but as the story develops and Isaac's problems become more severe, Page does a great job of conveying Isaac's stress and troubles. Here is the mark of a great narrator, that I could easily identify the which character was speaking without the author's attribution. This is a great story and a great read and one of just two five star ratings I have awarded to date.
If they had taught science like this in school, I think I may have sought out a career as a scientist instead like most people I learned to fear science. Brison does a wonderful job of introducing complicated topics in an orderly sequential manner that seems to make sense. He makes complex topics very interesting, and the reader Richard Matthews is just plain great. I have listened to this book twice already, it's easily one of my favorite books.
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