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Before you read any further, you should know two things. One: I have never seen the movie. Two: I hate zombie stories. So it's surprising that I not only picked up "World War Z," but that I absolutely loved it.
This story is told through a series of interviews conducted after the Zombie War. It was this format that I found so appealing. It gave human faces to the events in the book. This isn't a book about a guy saving the world. This is a book about people coping with the horror of a seemingly unstoppable pandemic and threat of annihilation. Even though you only get to spend a small amount of time with each character (there is no hero's journey here), they're all realistic and you care about what happens to them. Max Brooks was incredibly ambitious with this project and I was thoroughly impressed with his grasp of international history, culture, and politics.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the cast in this review. The talent they got for this project is amazing and each reader gives an excellent performance. This is the most impeccably performed book I've ever purchased on Audible.
I see a lot of criticism from people who would have preferred not to know the outcome of the war as they began the story, and their complaints are valid. However, I found that the point of the book wasn't the survival of human beings. The point of the book was discovering how the world's cultures (histories, governments, economies, militaries, technologies) would help or hinder us against an enemy like the zombie plague. The exploration of this question is what makes this book so fascinating, so horrifying, and so satisfying.
This is the story of the descendents of Tommy and Angela who were marooned on an alien planet in an unknown part of an unknown galaxy. The 500 descendents of Tommy and Angela have outgrown the little area of Eden they inhabit, but only one person is willing to face the challenge of spreading out across an unknown world.
This was an interesting premise and the world building in this book is excellent. Everything from the source of the planet's warmth, to the lights on the living organisms, to the common birth defects in the Family Tree that never branches. It's these two points that made me give this a 3 star rating (if I were feeling less generous, that would be a 2 star rating). The rest of the book... not so great.
Firstly, there is a language issue at the beginning of the book. The people in this story speak a different dialect of English that has evolved over the 160 or so years they've been on Eden. Certain "a" sounds are pronounced up in the sinuses which makes words like "lantern," "valley," and "family" sound like "lee-antern," "vee-alley," and "fee-amily." This was well-coordinated amongst the narrators so when you do finally get the hang of the lingo and accent, its not too difficult to follow the story. Still, it took at least 20 minutes for the words to begin to make sense as I was listening, and it still bothered me at least 3 hours into the recording.
Secondly, the portrayal of women in this book is extremely problematic. The society on Eden is matriarchal, and yet the women just seem to be the administrators (when they're not busy procreating) while men do the actual leading. There are women leaders, but we don't really see them leading; we see them deposed. Additionally, the rules of their society state that men and women can only "slip" when the woman grants permission (and women in this book usually do the propositioning), but there are three rape scenes in this book. In the first, a woman makes a boy touch her and that is upsetting not just to the boy, but to his entire community and the woman who did it is ostracized. In the second, a girl is raped and just thinks to herself, "man, he must have been really upset!" and then there is no future mention of it. The third time, when the same girl is nearly raped, the incident is the catalyst for the big conflict in the book not because the girl is nearly raped, but because of what happens when that rape is interrupted.
But let's go back to that procreation angle. The women do the vast majority of the propositioning in this book. But they don't do it because sex is fun, or because it's enjoyable, or because they like it. With the exception of the aforementioned rape scene, they do it because they want babies. They want the "baby juice." Grown women proposition 15 year old boys for the sake of procreation. This leads to some of the most awkward and unsexy sex scenes I've ever read. And that's before you're reminded for the umpteenth time that all of these people are very closely related.
Thirdly, the characters are static. When I read a book, I expect the characters to learn and grow. That doesn't really happen. The protagonist remains handsome and arrogant. The antagonist remains ugly and belligerent. The main "love interest" (for lack of a better word) is the only character that changes, and her motivations for that change are never explained (see previous paragraph).
Lastly, this book just stops. The dramatic structure is interrupted just before the climax. We have exposition, rising action, and then just when you think the climax is about to happen, the book ends.
This is the first Chris Beckett book I've ever read, so I am unfamiliar with his personal beliefs. That said, I think that Dark Eden was meant not as a cohesive, stand-alone story, but as commentary on the Biblical Adam and Eve story. This would explain the static characters and the lack of any climax or resolution. It's an interesting thought exercise, but I feel this book would have been far more satisfying if it had used the creation story as inspiration rather than a source. This would have given him the opportunity to finish what he'd started, resolve the conflict, and let us know where the characters go from here.
...and when the kids come out of the car, it doesn't have to be all over.
I was looking specifically for an audio version of "The Wolves in the Walls" but decided to go with this collection first because it was inexpensive and second because it had so much supplementary material. All of the stories are good and both my son and I love Neil Gaiman's reading voice. The surprise favorite part was the interview between Gaiman and his daughter at the very end.
The only complaint I have is there is no space left between the end of a story and the title of the next, which leads to a very jarring segue from story to story since it sounds like the title is simply a continuation of the last sentence of the previous story. A two-second pause wouldn't have gone amiss here.
I depend on reviews when deciding upon which book to buy next. The reviewers I follow have mixed opinions on this title and after listening, I understand why. This book is definitely not for everyone. The subject matter is extremely dreary and this book is not so much a continuation of "Oryx and Crake" than it is a supplement to it. That said, I found this book intensely interesting. Enjoyable? Maybe not, but it held my attention and now that I'm finished with it, I'm glad I took the time to listen.
As I said above, this builds more on "Oryx and Crake" than continues it. "The Year of the Flood" contains stories of two new(ish) characters, Toby and Ren, and through them, an entire cast of characters outside the corporation compounds. In this, you get a better sense of the world in which Jimmy lived, as well as the people that were around him. Luckily, these people are all just as interesting as Jimmy. Some, even more so.
The production values of this book are top-notch. I've enjoyed Bernadette Dunne's work in other novels, and she's even better here. Mark Bramhall is one of my favorites and my only criticism is that he doesn't have a larger role. Katie MacNichol holds her own among these other two narrators that I love. There's also music in this recording. Typically, music in audiobooks makes me cringe and while I can't say that any of the songs are going on my mp3 player, these aren't as cringe-inducing as the narrator simply reading the lyrics or half-heartedly singing them. The songs are well-produced, corny though they may be.
With an author like Margaret Atwood, you know you're going to get a solidly constructed, beautifully written story, but I hesitate to recommend this book to everyone. This book is bleak and there is no comic relief. If you like apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic fiction, you may enjoy this, but don't expect to feel especially joyful when you're finished.
We often take it for granted that we'll never know what might have been. If only we'd chosen a different path. If only that one thing had never happened. If only that one thing had actually happened... This book lets us see it, and it's interesting, and refreshing, and exciting. We know Ursula is experiencing life after life, but it appears that the people around her are as well. And that thought that everyone is blessed (doomed) to live again and again until they get it right is such a big idea that this book hasn't left me in the six weeks since I finished it.
I really enjoyed this book. Granted, it took a while to get into because her lives in the beginning were so short. But after an hour or so, as her lives get longer and her choices and the choices of the people around her become more complicated, things get more interesting. What can she change? What can't she change? And are the people around her also experiencing this (for lack of a better word) déjà vu? (I think they are.)
I found the book surprisingly easy to follow despite the number of times the book jumps around in the timeline, and I was so engrossed in it that paying attention was effortless. Fenella Woolgar narrated it excellently, especially considering all of the languages contained in the book.
I would highly recommend this book, especially to those interested in what it was like to be a civilian in England or Germany during World War II.
There's nothing surprising about this book, especially if you're familiar with past colonial expeditions on earth, specifically the British colonization of the New World. This book is clearly the weakest of the three. It's not bad, but it's not particularly good either. Predictable and in places a little annoying, this book might have been improved with different narrators. I found both performances way too flat.
I absolutely adored "Annihilation" and was really looking forward to "Authority." However, this book did not enthrall me in the same way "Annihilation" did. I'm viewing book 2 as a bridge to book 3, something that gives the necessary information to make book 3 make sense. It's possible that my high expectations caused "Authority" to feel like a let-down, but I genuinely did not find this book nearly as interesting as "Annihilation." However, I still wouldn't hesitate to recommend this series to my friends.
As I mentioned before, there are important revelations in this book and it has some genuinely creepy moments. And despite my feelings of disappointment overall, I was still holding my breath in anticipation at the last moment of the book. This book isn't bad, not at all.
A large portion of what I enjoyed about this book was Bronson Pinchot's narration. The man is a masterful reader. So good, in fact, that I may seek out his other audiobook work. I can't praise him enough.
This was a moderately enjoyable read. I must admit that it made my historian's heart beat a little bit faster to read about historians living and exploring historical events. However, the characters in the story never really came alive for me. Motivations and personalities never really seemed to gel and when I finished the book I still felt like I didn't know anyone in the book, not even the protagonist. I prefer character-driven stories, and this was very much action-oriented. Not bad, but not really my cup of tea, either. I also had difficulty understanding the time span of this book. What I thought had been a few months had actually been five years and I wonder if I wasn't paying attention or if the passage of time was really glossed over. That said, the story held my interest, even with little nitpicky criticisms I had about plot points, and I don't regret the purchase. However, it isn't likely I'll pick up Book 2 in this series.
Zara Ramm did a good job narrating the book. While she did do accents, she didn't give characters distinctive voices. That, in addition to the aforementioned issues I had with characterization, plus the occasional nickname bandied about, made it difficult for me to tell some characters apart from one another.
This is a fun read, but I would only recommend it to people who want to enjoy a little bit of bubble gum reading.
When I was in third grade, my teacher, Mr. Merrick, read Paddington to the class and I remember laughing out loud to his exploits. Now that I have a child of my own, I wanted him to have those same experiences. At first, my son wasn't particularly interested, but after about three chapters, I noticed he was becoming completely immersed in the story. He laughed out loud at the end of each chapter and when the book was finished, he begged for more. I downloaded the second book today and I'm looking forward to hearing him laugh at Paddington once more.
I'm not in the habit of listening to (or reading) books more than once. Something about doing that bugs me. But I can say that this book will stay with me for a long time and I will revisit certain scenes again and again in my mind.
What impressed me so much was how everything in the book had a purpose. Seemingly trivial details are symbolic of either a bigger idea or a parallel item in the other world. The first example of this is the double-meaning of the title. I downloaded it thinking it would be just a simple story. I was so very wrong and that was evident from one of Nao's first lines, "A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be." The scope of this book awes me.
I particularly enjoyed Nao's time with her great grandmother at the temple. I found her experiences at school disturbing and the growth and peace she acquired at the temple was deeply satisfying to me as a reader.
The reading of Nao's great-Uncle's diary made me stop and just sit and listen with awed horror at the recounting of the training and mission of the kamikazes. The detail and emotion put into this section of the book made it absolutely riveting. I stopped doing what I was doing and sat and stared at the corner of the room, my attention completely focused on the story.
What impressed me the most about this book was the variety of emotions this book made me feel. An author that can make characters feel this real and make readers sympathize with them so completely has my utmost respect. It's been a long time since I have felt so satisfied by a book.
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