At last, that year I spent studying art history pays off!
Not that you need to know anything about art history to enjoy this book. The chapter guide is very helpful. Well, I discovered it just after I'd finished the book, but it LOOKS helpful. Have it handy while you listen.
So, here is Moore doing what he does best, crafting a story that is intelligent and moving, but also bawdy and goofy. There's that mystery I mentioned, and some romance, lots of sex and other "vices", and thoughtful ruminations on the nature of inspiration and the sacrifices that must be made for art.
The main character, baker/painter Lucien Lessard, is great, but it's Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who steals the show as Lucien's drunken horndog sidekick. We need another book about him!
The narration is superb. I loved what Euan Morton did with Fool, and his performance here is just as lively.
I can't give Sacr?? Bleu a full five stars for the story. I want to, but it doesn't quite equal Moore's masterpieces Lamb and Fool. There are some aspects of the story that don't quite gel, and maybe it gets a bit too complicated for its own good. But it's really, really close. I've already started listening to it for a second time.
Read this passage from Exodus, out loud if possible:
"Her hand found its way to the strap of the Mossberg, and she slipped the shotgun into her hands. It would be easy to blame Thor's uneasiness on the almost constant crash of the storm, but after her encounter at the store, she couldn't be sure it wasn't because he sensed something in the house. Emily didn't think it was anything to worry about, just the storm that was frightening him rather than any sense of a threat within the house. But her hand found its way to the strap of the Mossberg slung across her shoulder anyway."
This is bad writing (and possibly bad editing). The author manages to repeat and yet contradict himself here. And how can any writer fail to catch the awkwardness of using both "easy" and "uneasiness" in the same sentence?
Now imagine a whole book full of this clunky prose.
And now I have regret.
This book is tedious and unbelievable. The main character is stupid, and the story is nothing but a dry narrative of her foolish actions.
It was a real hate-listen: I finished it only to be able to write a scathing review. But now that I'm done, I don't have the energy.
Now that the missing 4-5 minutes of Chapter 3 have been restored and my previous (very whiny, I admit) comments have been scrubbed, I can do a proper job of reviewing this long-awaited edition of World War Z.
WWZ has a scope that is unlike any other zombie novel that I know of. It's true that we don't get to know any of the characters really well; the segments range from just a few minutes to an hour or so. But the overall effect of the dozens of different stories layered on top of one another--some political, some personal, many both--is to emphasize the world-wide nature of the crisis. I don't think any other zombie novel has accomplished this. I love that stories from around the world are lightly linked by repeated mentions of certain people, places, battles, policies, etc. I also love that the author has not spelled everything out for us or given us a full timeline. We get enough glimpses that we can put things together ourselves.
If you are looking for a typical zombie novel, with a group of survivors on the run, this may not be for you. But haven't you read enough of those already? Give this one a try.
As for performances, most are good. I admit that I don't have much of an ear for accents, but a few of them sound off, either wrong or just overdone. But the majority of the performances are solid and a few are stunning. The best of the lot, for me, are Mark Hamill as Todd Wainio, Frank Darabont as Roy Elliot, Alfred Molina as Terry Knox, Rob Reiner as "the Whacko", Becky Ann Baker as Christina Eliopolis, and Eamonn Walker as Xolelwa Azania.
(Another reviewer suggests that the accent chosen for the character of Xolelwa Azania is not appropriate. Without giving anything away...isn't that the twist that makes the story so good?)
In the final minutes of Requiem, Lena notes that the Cureds are looking for certainty. They choose the procedure as a form of protection against the unknown. And while she understands the sadness and grief of change, of not being sure, she has chosen faith instead of knowing.
It makes sense, then, that the book ends with uncertainty. What is more uncertain than loving someone? No, we don't get a whole lot of closure. But that's the point. Requiem would be a failure if it wrapped up everyone's lives in pretty little packages, and I would have been disappointed.
This book is beautiful, haunting and poetic, like the two that came before. And Sarah Drew is magnificent.
I love a great survival story, but this one is merely satisfactory.
There's a lot of "this happened, and then this, and then that" in Ghinsberg's tale. He shares many icky details about parasites and infections (what happens to his feet is truly disturbing) that bring the ordeal to life. He doesn't spare his ego at all, describing one highly embarrassing injury (ouch!) and a couple of gross-out moments involving soiling himself. You really do feel for the guy, and his increasing frustration and despair is obvious. Almost everything goes against him, and even though we know he survived, it does seem doubtful at many points in the story.
But ultimately, there's not much depth here. I like survival stories that have something to say about the human condition, and while Ghinsberg touches on topics like religion and talks about a special talisman given to him by a relative, it is "interesting" rather than "significant".
I bought this book looking for a fun, sexy, campy "romp". I wanted to imagine what those prim and proper characters from one of my favourite novels were REALLY up to, the bits Bronte wouldn't tell us. I wanted to see taboos broken. I wanted sex to explode off every page.
What I got was a seriously abridged version of the classic with seven or eight sex scenes added in. That's less than one sex scene per hour. You cannot call that erotica. And the sex is so...bland. It's all male/female, for starters. And no threesomes, groups, etc. No voyeurism. No kink. Sure, a riding crop makes a token appearance (it doesn't really get used), and at once point Jane's hands are bound above her head with a bed curtain tie. Yawn.
On the plus side, the reader was very good. She might be the only reason I finished the book.
Kids are being murdered in some pretty brutal ways, and yet they spend an awful lot of time discussing their crushes. I find this distracting and ridiculous.
Also distracting is the bad writing. I cannot tell if it's the fault of the author or the translator, but this book contains grammatical errors, at least one confusion between meters and centimeters, and this horrible line: "For a moment, Yutaka fell silent, but then he answered immediately." You cannot have that "moment" and then an immediate answer. There are dozens more lines like this that made me laugh out loud and took me out of the story.
I feel bad for the narrator. I cannot evaluate his performance fairly because the writing is stilted and unnatural. I suspect he did what he could.
All of this is unfortunate because there is something interesting in this book. I was fascinated by ways the relationships between these kids unraveled because of distrust. And given what is revealed at the end about why the program exists, it makes perfect sense. Making people suspicious of one another has always been a key tactic of totalitarian states. But there is too much bad writing, and I could not enjoy the story.
Note to those about to listen: You might want to find a list of characters online and print it out for reference. I am one of those people who has trouble with foreign names, and there are so many characters in this book and the names are sometimes so similar that I lost track a few times. I mean, there's one scene with Yukie, Yuka AND Yuko. I nearly lost my mind.
I mean, when you are promised "extreme genital arousal", what can you do?
The thing about erotica is, I'm pretty particular about my tastes. I think most people are. I can appreciate widely varying styles in other genres, but not in erotica. I'm so particular, I usually write my own.
While My Family Sleeps is not as hardcore as I would like. It also moved a little slow, with more rumination over the sex about to happen than actual sex. I guess some people like anticipation. Not me. And maybe there was too much worrying by the main character about whether or not he was cheating, gay, etc.
Now, I loved the set up. The pseudo-incest (gawd, am I really going to submit this review??), the voyeurism, the bi-curious theme...this REALLY should have worked for me.
There is no doubt that this is a well-written story. The author is talented and an okay reader, and some people will enjoy it. But I did not. I feel bad about that, but the fact is, my genitals remained...unaroused.
For many of the reasons already stated here by other reviewers, this story was a disappointment. It never came together for me.
First, these kids are going to the moon! THE MOON! Where is the sense of wonder? The writing is flat when it should be brimming with urgency. It's a pretty great subject, but it sounds like the author knows about as much as I do about the moon...which is to say, not much. Where are the details that bring such things to life for readers/listeners? Everything gets skimmed over. Months of training for the mission come down to a few paragraphs. The launch and subsequent landing on the moon get the same sparse treatment.
(And yet the author wastes pages and pages telling us about the ex-girlfriend of one of our lucky space-traveling teens...for no reason I can see.)
Second, there was too much "telling" and not enough "showing", and I never felt a connection to any of the characters because I could not get inside their heads.
Also, it contains the most dismal excuse for a romance imaginable. It is almost as if the author realized that all YA novels MUST contain a love story (it's some kind of rule, apparently) and threw one in at the last minute.
Finally, I disliked the narrator. She was okay when not trying to do accents, but it was the accents that really ruined the reading for me.
The second half was marginally better than the first half. There were some creepy moments, and the ending was good (if predictable). But I'd give this one a pass if I were you.
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