Although it has been done before (and much much better) I enjoyed the story found it entertaining and it kept my interest. The reader did a fair job but his UK accents are pretty bad and almost every American sounds like they spent varying lengths of time in Texas.
The real problem is the format. Mr. Wilson wanted to pull of a World War Z but just didn't have the chops. The story is supposed to be made up of interviews as well as "found footage" conversations and communications recorded surreptitiously by CCTV and various electronic devices under control of the Robots. Although the reader gives the characters voices that are easy to tell apart they STILL sound exactly the same. There is WAY too much description, environmental detail and analysis. It didn't take long for it to be apparent that the robots spared only the gifted storytellers.
It would have been better third person omniscient.
Very interesting premise. Mostly liked the characters and situations. Completely plausible but wow, I have never read anything this didactic. The speechifying just went on and on. Though I don't think it's wonderful writing, I do think it's alright speculative fiction and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the current debates about privacy and the proliferation of social media.
Stephen Armstrong's deadpan delivery combined of Colin Bateman's hilarious characters is delightful. This installment had plenty of twists and turns and had me hooked from the very beginning. I'm going to go back and listen to them all again. The characters are well developed and the story is fast moving and engaging.
I was interested in what the Daemon was doing, how it worked, and what its ultimate goals were and that aspect of the story was pretty good. There were a great many white male characters and the reader went a bit overboard trying to come up with distinctive voices for each and every one of them. It got a bit silly. The stereotypical Square Jawed Super Macho Ex-Military Ultra Patriotic Fearless American Hero thing got really really old as well. The three female characters were even worse. I almost stopped listening several times, but I have to admit I wanted to know what happened in the end. It was kind of worth it.
This really did teach me almost everything I needed to know to spend three weeks in Italy. The phrases "is there a ______ near here?" and "Where is the_____?" and "How much does this/that cost?" and all of the pleases, thank yous, and good evenings were the most helpful. Most of the other lessons were used occasionally and helped me to understand the responses by training my ear to catch what people are saying. The first few listens I could barely identify individual words. This tutorial was well worth the time and money.
Also note that not "everybody" speaks English in Italy. Our first morning at our first hotel near the Florence Airport met with a hotel desk attendant who didn't speak a word of English. I was able to ask her where I could buy a bus ticket and find a bus stop nearby and ask for a restaurant recommendation. Yay! Highly recommended if you are traveling around by train and bus sans tour group. You will need something more if you are conducting business.
I want a t-shirt that says "I survived listening to Birthdays for the Dead." It was very good, but, yikes, it was difficult listening on occasion.
The story of an artist's passion and the history of the art world were entertaining and engaging. Sadly, there really wasn't enough character development for me to care all that much about what happened to the people in the story. The two leads don't seem to have much in common and Claire comes across as emotionally stunted. The slow, breathy, whiney narration does NOT help with this.
I almost stopped listening very early on thinking it was going to degenerate into some kind of macho torture porn fantasy. Instead it is a deeply felt examination of human emotions that kept me up far too late. I literally could not sleep until her story had been told. I ended up listening to several sections again over the course of several days because the characters actions were so thought provoking, surprising, emotionally wrenching and yet completely believable.
I wanted to like this story and as I listened it kept my attention and I liked the characters and desperately wanted to know who done it. Simon Vance's narration was flawless as usual. As we neared the end, however, I started to think that someone should have explained the theory of Occam's Razor to some of characters. I'll try to not have any real spoilers here, but come on, the plot to cover up this, fake that, kidnap her, implicate them, steal this, destroy that, involve this person and that person AND the other person, all with little tiny bits of information pertaining to a huge convoluted plot. Yikes. No wonder all of the three principle blonde's plots failed so spectacularly. Rocky was cool tho.
The reader is wonderful and the story is engaging and entertaining. The device of moving back and forth through multiple time periods and plot lines had me hooked and carried me along with the story right up til part III. Then it degenerated into an exercise in dieu ex machina...actually multiple exercises.
I would still recommend the story, the characters are wonderfully detailed and believable and I really did want to know "who done it," but be prepared for the last third, which has enough improbable plot devices to make Charlotte Bronte blush.
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