I loved the first two books in this series, and enjoyed this one even more. There are mysteries beyond each individual book that seem to be revealing themselves, and each contains a variety of interrelated stories surrounding colorful characters who become old friends. The story is sometimes very dark, sometimes very funny, as is Flavia herself. She can be a spoiled brat, a helpful neighbor, a sensitive soul, and a morbid sneak. All of these elements of her personality are captured perfectly by Jane Entwistle, the narrator. Although Flavia is a young girl from an aristocratic family of 1950s England, I find her easy to relate to and her world easy to imagine with the vivid descriptions by the author. Although the narration is from the perspective of a child, I don't see the series as children's books, though I think I would have loved them as a young teen. I'm looking forward to hearing about future developments in the fourth book.
This book seems geared for grammar school kids through young teens and the authors manage very well to make really complex scientific concepts accessible even to very young readers. The language is simple, and the characters easy to relate to. As an adult, I thought the story was cute and very educational. I enjoy reading physics written for a general audience. It's great that Stephen Hawking, as one of the most brilliant physicists ever, has made his work so accessible to general audiences and now, with the help of his daughter, to children. I think this would be a fantastic book to listen to on a road trip with kids, especially if you were on your way to an observatory or planetarium. It has some good messages to kids and parents. The narration is polished and portrays the characters and action well. Dr. Hawking discusses the more technical aspects of the science at the end himself, which is a nice bonus.
Overall, I thought this book was excellent and have already devoured the sequels. The narration and pace were very good. It is hard to read this book without thinking of Roman gladiators and Mayan ballgames, and to realize that rulers of "civilized" societies have actually used such gruesome, ritualized games to control the masses. The author notes the influence of gladiator games and reality television on her decision to write in a postscript. It is the sort of book that makes you wonder how far leaders are willing to go to take control, and the kind of bravery it takes to stand up to people who have the power to kill everyone you care about. Beyond that, it is easy to get caught up in the story...the simple life of youngsters on the edge of starvation faced with something so much greater than themselves that they have no choice but to do the unthinkable or die. The story goes from a poor village with simple technology, to a utopian metropolis, to an arena with means of death that would make leaders of the inquisition sit up and beg. Descriptions are good, though I think the first person narration made a few of the characters seem a little flat (mainly Peeta and Gale), and it's hard to imagine teens in such an environment would place so much emphasis on kissing, kissing, and more kissing with some talk of marriage, though the stinted romances seem reasonable given the tense circumstances. It is violent, but no more than it needs to be to tell the story and have the reader understand the horror of the situation. The characters aren't chess pieces, but people the reader is made to care about. All of the characters have their quirks and flaws, and don't necessarily react in predictable ways, but the reactions still make sense in their context which helps the realism of the book. Overall, an important theme, and an entertaining book.
This book is written from the perspectives of two characters in alternating chapters with two different narrators. Both narrators do a very good job portraying the emotions of the young characters, and the story is easy to follow as an audio book. It combines elements of mystery, sci-fi, utopian paranoia, and a bit of romance. Although I thought I had it figured out, and sometimes was on the mark, it still held some surprises. Having just finished the Hunger Games trilogy, it's hard not to make a comparison. This book was less action packed, and less violent, and I thought that although most of the characters of both books could have been a little better developed, those in Across the Universe were a little more realistic. The descriptions of the ship and new inventions were detailed enough, but not so lengthy and full of description or space jargon that I got bored (The book's web site has a diagram of the ship). This was a work more about human society than space travel. It made an excellent audiobook, and I look forward to the next.
This book flowed really well and was easy to follow for something with such a complex plot that follows a single character in multiple settings and times. It isn't about the invasion of Earth by aliens, but what happens long after that invasion from the perspective of a woman who has several possible roles in the salvation of various parts of humanity. Most of the book takes place on various planets in our solar system and outer space, and it is very imaginatively described without too much detail or invention of unneeded new words that some authors have a tendency towards in this genre. It was fun to listen to, though the narrator is not my favorite. She often speaks statements with an inflection that makes them sound like questions and tries too hard on male voices, but I got used to it after a while and was glad I'd chosen to listen.
If you are a Stephen King fan you won't be disappointed by this one. It is one of the best, and also has an apt message for our times. I don't mind listening to a bit of a sermon on the way we treat one another and our planet in the context of such a solid story from an author who could make a soup label engrossing. Yep, it's long, so plan on maybe getting to the gym or something with a portable player and enjoy it. Character development is excellent, so take the time to really get to know and love or hate each character and their little town, then watch the carnage unfold. There may be a very little fowl language, oh, and plenty of gruesome death, gore, evil incarnate. Horror is what King is known for and once again the scariest bits are the ones that we see within our own nature.
Along with another reviewer here, I also had the impression that Colfer channeled Douglas Adams (maybe the universe has cooked up a bit of irony and given Mr. Adams another incarnation, maybe not). I've read and listened to Adams' originals many times and have also enjoyed some of Colfer's earlier books quite a bit, but he really did something different from his own stuff here that is very consistent with the original style of the Hitchhikers series. Sounds like Adams was considering reviving the characters for a less depressing round with the Earth slightly less blown up, and I think he would have approved. What fan wouldn't have wanted Adams to have been able to write forever, but this is such a loved series it's nice to see it reach a little further into immortality.
This was one of the most creative and funny books I've ever read. I did read it, then bought the audio, and have listened a couple of times now enjoying it just as much. The narrator did a great job with the characters (Kona slides in and out of a faux surfer/Hawaiian/Jamaican accent as the author intended). The plot is inventive with good character development and settings that I, personally, would love to see in a movie. Beware of reading it in public - you will laugh out loud, people may stare. Some suggest Moore's humor is crude, but this one is generally milder. My advice is to read/listen to the intro to Fool and "take heed"...if you think you might be tempted to turn your nose up at such vulgar tripe, run away, don't look back, and don't complain later. Otherwise, enjoy, Moore is in a class of his own.
This series has been a favorite for its sharp characters, detailed and accurate settings, witty humor...The narrator did a fantastic job capturing the personalities that are already so vivid!
If I were a dog, my tail would wag very happily, then I would do something naughty to the author's leg. Christopher Moore is not for the faint of heart, but this book is very funny and a great counter-component to King Lear...though I like this one better than Shakespere's!
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