This book was enough of a dud that I was prompted to write this review. Firstly, the book is short and is more of relating a series of events than an actual story with a plot that crescendos and comes to a climax and is then resolved. Only one character truly has any character development, and that is the one that you're supposed to view as the antagonist.
I am also disappointed to learn that Audible did not bother to mention that this is not the first book in the series (or the universe) of the Hainish Cycle. Had I known, I would not have bought it, as I prefer not to start in the middle of a series, and this book is not particularly interesting as a stand-alone.
There's lots of sentences that are repeated. I've seen this happen sometimes before when going from one part to another, or occasionally there's a "please turn over cassette" and a sentence repeated after, but I'm only around 2 hours in and I've already heard three sentence repeats! This needs to be re-edited and re-released.
Note that this version of the book is read by the author John Hodgman with help from Jonathan Coulton. JH and JC banter throughout the book, for example instead of reading the tables on omens and portents cell by cell, JH asks JC what he saw the previous day, and JC attempts to bargain away Ragnarok by changing his story. Even if some of the content is removed from this version (while reading the Table of Contents JH says that he couldn't get the rights to discussing squirrel foot deformities), it is more than made up for by their interaction and JC's musical interludes.
I'm really curious to read the print version as well to compare them better; I expect it will be a very different experience.
Although I am only 1 hour into this book, I wanted to point out that it is strange to me that a book featuring primarily female characters (at least so far) has a male reader/narrator.
In the grand tradition of speculative fiction, "Left Behind" takes a concept and carries it out to ridiculous extremes. For a sci-fi and fantasy reader such as myself, the premise of the Rapture taking place is no more ridiculous than assumptions such as there being a parallel world filled with magic (such as Piers Anthony's "Split Infinity"), or that organ transplants will extend human life infinitely (as in Larry Niven's "The Jigsaw Man").
Unfortunately the religious fervor of the author overwhelms what could have been a great novel, displaying itself either as naivete or ignorance as to why those exposed to the Gosepel and Christianity would ever *not* be instantly converted. It provided little insight to the point of view of born again Christians, instead displaying them post-conversion as one-dimensional characters remaining willfully ignorant to alternate opinions. Pre-conversion characters have much more depth to them, but are portrayed as being stupid, having low willpower, being extremely credulous of ridiculous explanations, or stuck up. The treatment of one of the main characters pre-conversion is a sad case of anti-intellectualism as she slowly descends from a lofty condescending intellectual position to a college dropout and convert meekly taking on her father's mantle of evangelism.
I expect born again / evangelical Christians will enjoy this novel for apparently showing how everyone can be converted with the right impetus, but for the rest of us, you can take it or leave it.
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