In general I love historical fiction and this book seemed like it would have lots going for it. But it failed in every aspect of it. The characters were flat, boring and cliche. The plot moved extremely slowly and 'clues' were gone over again and again and again and then again a few chapters later, in case you forgot. The whole book could have been half the length without losing anything. The translation was stilted, especially with idioms and phrases. For those who might be faint of heart, the descriptions of torture and killing is not extremely graphic but presented in a very matter-of-fact way. Probably not for everyone.
My biggest problem with the book was continuity errors and plot holes. The editor of this book needs to be fired. Sometimes it's little things, like the main characters get covered in clay dust which they can't get off, and an hour later when one goes to town to get help, no one asks why they're all covered in dirt. When you find out who did it, I invite you to go back and read the initial descriptions of this character's physical characteristics and then read the big confrontation scene again. See the problem? Appalling.
In the middle of the book, I thought I'd be giving this book maybe 3 stars and say that it was kind of ok for listening to in the car, but the completely frustrating plot hole at the end was the final turn of the thumb-screw for me. I confess: I hated this book. Would not recommend, will not buy the sequel.
So I bought this book because it was on sale and (having bought the first one on sale and enjoying it well enough) I figured it was worth a try. It wasn't that the book was bad, more than it started out several plot lines (and carried a few on from the first book) but didn't really finish them. The first book set the scene and now this one is trying to get you to buy in to the extended series. Most of the major plot issues are not resolved at the end of this book, so if you don't like loose ends either don't get this book or be prepared to keep buying them. Honestly, all the parts that I liked about this book were done better in the first one, so overall I'd say I'm unimpressed. If the third book goes on sale, I'd say I'm unlikely to buy it.
This was a good book to listen to in the car, because I was never lost and I could usually guess accurately what was going to happen next so it didn't bother me to turn it off at the end of my commute and return to it the next day. That being said, it was a cute book, well written with interesting if rather cliched characters. I just wish that it had done something even remotely unexpected. Everything plays out exactly how you expect it is going to. Wheaton's narration was enthusiastic, he did a good job. Overall good but not exceptional.
Again, I'm not sure what I can say that a zillion other people haven't said, or you haven't guessed/learned from all the hype. I was pleasantly surprised by the continuation of the story line. Like the last book, it was well divided between events before and during the games. I particularly like that the author has stayed true to Katniss's somewhat flawed character and hasn't tried to make her anything more than she was in the first book.
Generally I'd like this kind of novel, where deeply conceived characters develop slowly towards a horrible finale. But I didn't like this book. As many other reviewers have mentioned, there isn't one redeeming feature in any of the characters. You really can't care about what happens to them. So, while the story seems to be building, it's really just dragging on and on (and on). Even the big finale seemed disappointing by the time I got to the end of the book. Kate Winslet does a great job narrating, and she seems to really love the atmosphere and the book. Unfortunately, her passion wasn't enough to save the book.
To say that this book wasn't what I thought it was going to be would be quite the understatement. It was neither a mystery nor a romance and there certainly wasn't any spying. I'm not sure what kind of genre to classify this book as. The mystery is really pretty bland. The only person in the book more incompetent than the main character is the person trying to kill her. It's extraordinarily predictable. That would be alright if it had been a romance novel with a murder mystery side plot, but there really isn't any romance to speak of either. If anything, I could maybe equate it to a poor pilot episode for a historical drama which is trying to set the scene for some more interesting plots. Personally, I won't be buying any more of them.
The main thing that drove me nuts about this book was the heroine. She starts out lying to her brother about why she wants to go to London. That goes badly. Then, on the shocking lack of success of her first lie, she goes on to lie to everyone at every possible moment, sometimes about things that barely make any sense. As you can imagine, the lies don't help any more in the middle of the book than they did at the start. I just wanted to reach into my car's stereo and shake her.
Bottom line: boring and mildly aggravating.
The plot summary for this book is pretty much the most unhelpful/inaccurate thing I've ever read on this site and someone really really ought to re-write it!!! It doesn't do this book any justice. This book is a classic sort of spy/secret society, fight against evil and get revenge story where a somewhat unlikely and at first unwilling hero steps in to help a motley crew of characters to save the world. It's funny and very well written. It's got everything you could want, spies and secret societies (as mentioned), neat magic, thirties slang, well thought through alternate history, doomsday devices, classic heroes and villains, a spunky 16 year old (self admitted) hick heroine, gunfights, zombies and blimp pirates. What more could you ask for? Even though it's billed as 'book 1 of the chronicles' don't worry, it's a stand alone story, so you won't have to get more books to get closure on the plot.
The narrator did a great job. The author also did a really good job of really capturing the characters. Sections that were told from different character's points of view were written in sufficiently distinct styles, unlike lots of books where everyone's perspective sounds pretty much the same.
Fair warning: this book has a rather Quentin Tarantino level of gratuitous and gruesome violence. Pretty much all the main characters die at least once (sometimes more than once). I don't think there's any named character who makes it through without sustaining an injury that would require an ambulance at least once. Just sit back and enjoy it, don't think too hard.
If you loved the first two books (and lets face it, why would you pick this one up if the first two weren't your cup of tea), then you'll not be disappointed by this installment of the series. Once again we rejoin Severian quite a bit further along in his journey then when we left him at the end of the last book, but I found this transition easier to follow than the last, maybe just because I was expecting it more.
We follow Severian through the book as usual, with some familiar characters coming and going, and some new ones too. If it's been a while since you finished the last book, probably wouldn't hurt to refresh your memory before you start this one. This book probably has as many random tangents as the last but I found them more enjoyable or easier to follow or more relevant than the side stories in the last book.
I realized while listening to this book that part of what I love about Gene Wolfe's writing is that so much happens in the book, but every scene or incident is so well described and fleshed out. It's never rushed. But nor is it weighed down with unnecessary description. A lot of writers could learn from Wolfe. The world he creates is so realistic and easy to immerse yourself in, but so lacking in detailed descriptions (ie. what does the alzabo actually look like?).
Johnathan Davis's voice and narration style couldn't be more perfect for these books. I've been listening to some of the other things he's done, and he's an excellent narrator, but nowhere is he as good as he is here.
Can't wait to download the last book!!
Ok, it's a classic so definitely a book with deep things to say. Generally I like the classics outside a classroom setting, but I'm just not sure this book was all I was hoping it was going to be. The first half of the book (give or take) is almost entirely consumed with setting the scene of a dystopian future (can you really call it dystopia if the people living in it are 'happy'?). I think the second half was supposed to be plot, but I couldn't really tell. There were a number of main characters, but none of them really seemed to be the 'hero' of the story, or even the focus of the story. There were tons of plot holes and loose ends, and some oddities in the society described (seriously this homogeneous society is ok with just sending the intellectuals off to a random island and hoping they never cause trouble? It just doesn't ring true to me) which betray this book for what it is: not so much a book but an extended discussion of a hypothetical future. It is an interesting concept, and one of those things that you can sort of see happening in a frightening future. Long story short: listen to it, contemplate the overall concept, don't expect a riveting plot.
A friend of mine recommended this series. If you're looking for another vampire hunting love story then you will probably like this. Unlike some of the genre it doesn't focus on a single murder, but kind of on finding a suspected murderer....kind of. The book isn't really that concerned with the plot, as evidenced by the disappointingly anti-climactic confrontation with Hennesey. Sure there are tons of other plot holes and inconsistencies, but it's not the kind of book that you think too hard about. I would have given the narrator a higher rating, but her voice for Bones just killed it. If you are hoping for a suave accent for the British vampire Bones, be prepared to be disappointed. Bones is saddled with a gratingly cockney accent which would have made the most cliched Dickensian urchin proud. If the next book in the series goes on some great sale I might get it, but I won't be spending a credit on it.
Let me start this review with the preface that I love Johnathan Davis and everything he narrates. That being said, I really wanted to like this book more than I ended up doing. It's a murder mystery (sort of) set in pre-revolution Boston, about a magician Ethan who works as a thief taker. As a murder mystery it's not exactly interesting, it tries to focus more on the magic side of things.
The book was too long and rather repetitive. It wasn't that it reiterated plot points again and again (like some mysteries), but the scenes seemed to repeat. It could easily have been pared down quite a bit. The character's motivations were a little vague, especially Sophira. There were times that it felt like things were happening just so that Ethan could get beaten up more. For a supposedly smart guy, Ethan takes a long time to figure out some seemingly basic plot points. There seems like lots of interesting back story that could be expanded upon in further books, but even on the strength of Johnathan Davis's narration (which is absolutely excellent as always), I'm not sure I'll be getting any of the rest of the series.
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