I saw a lot of reviews that complained that there was too much detail or too many unnecessary plotlines in this sequel. I didn't think so at all! I felt each chapter brought a little more life to the world and the series as a whole. Were the years with Solo's "friend" necessary? Absolutely not. Did I love them? Absolutely. If you're reading this series for the excitement and the mystery-solving of Wool, I can see how Shift is a disappointment. If you liked Wool because of the characters it introduced and the world it created, I think you'll find Shift just as entertaining.
I was really disappointed with the narration, however, because I loved Reynolds in the Riyria Revelation books. Sadly, he just wasn't a good choice for American accents. The southern Georgia accents were particularly jarring and sometimes slipped into something sounding Scottish.
This book is written for a fairly narrow audience.
1) You must be fond of old school RPGs. Table top dice rolling is best, but something like a text-based MUD would be good, too. Me, I loved Gemstone III.
2) You must be able to laugh at yourself and your fellow players.
3) You must embrace the awkward phrasing that lots of players liked to use to create "character." Aye, 'tis true.
4) You must not be looking for anything deep or meaningful. This is a romp, and the author's tongue never comes fully out of his cheek.
If meet these criteria, then enjoy! This book is for you!
This cover epitomizes the old adage. Just ignore that orange thing and pretend it's a dragon or a butterfly or something.
Anyway, this book was written in the style of someone who plays lots of old school RPGs. Maybe even MUDs. I can feel my fingers typing the commands for these characters. "She nods." "He shrugs." A lot of the time, they don't even have adverbs, and the ones that are used are pretty standard. "She nods slowly." Even the characters fit into the old RPG stereotypes. Thieves, assassins, sorcerers, warriors, etc.
And yet somehow, the narrator pulls it off. Perhaps it's because it's a first person perspective, but the amateurish writing just becomes part of Vlad's demeanor and personality. He's not the type to get overly flowery, so the direct, occasionally choppy, occasionally stiff dialogue becomes natural.
All told, this is a fun book with an interesting world. It does not drag out any longer than it needs to be, and I'm happy to see there are sequels, though I may wait until they are on sale to pick them up. The breadcrumbs about the characters' back stories are more like bricks to the head, but I'll admit. I'm curious!
I picked up this book because of all the great reviews I've read for both the author and the narrator. The book itself is fantastic - great characters, great world, great story. It had surprising depth. I had recently listened to Brilliance by Marcus Sakay, which had a similar premise (granted, Hard Magic was published first), but where Sakay delved into the social repercussions of people with powers, Correia went deep into the system of magic and its use. It was fast paced, exciting, a bit brutal and gory, and I will definitely continue the series...
But maybe not as an audiobook. I had heard so much praise for Pinchot, perhaps I had unreal expectations. 75% of the character voices were fantastic and worthy of a 5 star rating. But the two main characters... UGH. Sullivan sounds like a cross between Forrest Gump and Bubba with a mouth full of marbles. I realize he is supposed to be a big, "slow" man from the backhills, but this is your MAIN CHARACTER. I think it improves towards the end of the book (maybe I just get used to it a tiny bit), but I'm not sure I want to listen to another 14 hours. I had issues with Fay's voice, too, but I'm not sure if that's because of her dialogue or because of how she was read. She came off as either a smart 12-year-old or a dim 16-year-old. Because there was a need to make her old enough to be in a relationship, you get the dim option. I considered these two characters at the 3-star level, so I averaged for a 4.
Many reviewers said they couldn't tear themselves away once they began this book, but I was the opposite. There were many sections where I could only listen to 10 minutes at a time before getting too emotional and turning it off. During one particular stretch of frustration and suffering, I nearly gave up listening. I would get home after listening during my commute and be unsettled and angry. There were other sections where I would start to cry, and I would turn it off so I didn't get pulled over by a cop for being a hot mess.
Throughout it all, I kept wondering why this book was affecting me more deeply than others. I finally decided it was because it was so raw. This wasn't a finely written, finely edited, finely spun story. This was a journal. A memoir. Characters weren't made to be likeable or unlikeable (although the "bad guy" was 100% bad), they just were.
Pinchot did too good of a job. He really brought the characters to life, which made it all the more painful when they inevitably began to die (I don't think death in a book about war is a spoiler). I honestly didn't know much about the Vietnam War (and truth be told I still don't know the bigger picture), but this is a book that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Sometimes I need a light book in between the more serious ones, or I need a quick romp during a long road trip to make the time pass quickly. This fits the bill. I picked it up because I've heard good things about Katherine Kellgren, and a later book in the series won an Audie award. Kellgren does a great job with all the character voices and I will definitely be looking for more from her in the future.
As for the story, I was a little hesitant because I have recently listened to two other books set during similar times (London ~100 years ago) with similar strong female characters (Alexia Tarabotti and Lady of Devices). I liked Georgie the best so far because she seemed the most natural. The others were more defiant of their societies to the point of pontificating. They were the stereotype of anti-stereotypes.
I am looking forward to the rest of this series, but I am not so hooked that I am buying them all immediately so I can binge. I'll probably pick them up onesie twosie when I see them on sale and listen when I need a quick pick me up.
I must be getting overly picky. It's not that this book was terrible, it's just that it wasn't that good, and I have a lot of books with a lot more potential in my library.
I used to think that a great narration could save any book, but that no longer seems to be the case. Luke Daniels does a good job as always... but it was perhaps too good. I thought the main character was an arrogant jackass, and Daniels made him even more so.
I had a hard time putting my finger on what bothered me about this book, and the best description I can come up with is that it was watery. The dialogue sloshed back and forth with empty banter, and the language was over-the-top flowery. I realize this was an attempt at world building and style, but it came off as awkward and unnatural. The characters were also thin and stereotypical.
I made it halfway through the book before I decided to switch to something else. I may someday go back and give it another chance, or maybe I'll buy the Kindle version so I can skim through the parts that make me roll my eyes. It's an interesting world and interesting storyline, but where some books and narrations merge together to create something great, this one just barely made it to mediocre.
This is not my usual fare. I picked it up as a daily deal because of the reviews. In fact, I was wary of its characterization as "literary fiction" because usually that stuff is too highbrow and artsy for me. As an "A-List" production by an A-List actress reading an A-List author, I had sneeringly high expectations. But wow, this really made me respect the designation of "literary." I didn't find the dystopian world all that amazing - any reader of fantasy or science fiction has surely read books that take place in more intricate, believable, or interesting worlds. But the writing... oh the writing. I guess it's been a while since I've read or listened to anything this lyrical.
Claire Danes did a perfect job narrating. She was not the best narrator I've ever heard, but she was the best for this story.
This book continued the fast pace action of the first, but without the bonus multiplier of novelty, its flaws were a little more apparent. For instance, the characters are all pretty flat and don't develop at all, and we only met a few new people. Some of the side characters only serve a plot purpose (e.g. Cooper's kids. There's no mention of their reactions to all the horrors they're seeing other than "the kids looked pale and held Natalie's hand.") Cooper's over the top macho-ism and boy scout tell the truth-ism got old quickly.
All the same, the series is still very entertaining, and I will definitely buy the third audiobook.
This is a solid 4-star book across the board. It's a fun, fast-paced story that doesn't get bogged down by detail or overblown drama. The characters are interesting and diverse, but the author sometimes indulged himself a little too much when making the main character a tough guy. The world created is fun and imaginative, but there are some logic loopholes in the technology and how it's used. The plot is a bit twisty but also a bit predictable. Luke Daniels does a great job narrating, but I have to admit, I like him more in the Iron Druid books.
If you're looking for something deep and meaningful, this isn't it. If you're looking for an entertaining story that will make a long drive pass by quickly, this will do the trick. I look forward to the rest of the series!
I'm not even sure how this made it into my library. I appear to have paid a mere $0.25 for it, so it must have been due to some sale/coupon, and my guess is I grabbed it because I have extreme faith in Nick Podehl. He did not disappoint and further catapulted himself up my favorite narrator list.
As for the book itself, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The last third of the book could be classified as science fiction, but the entire story is really the development of the two main characters, which is like singing a cappella - if you are out of pitch, there is no hiding it. The supporting characters all twine together masterfully, too. To be honest, I'm not sure I would have such a glowing opinion if it was performed by a lesser narrator, but all the pieces came together here to make a really great audiobook.
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