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This has quite possibly usurped "The Forever Trap" as my favorite Doctor Who novel. The story is solid, the characters are bang on, and Camille Coduri's narration is perfect. I was completely charmed by this book within the first ten minutes. It's as if Rayner knows these characters personally. You can easily envision them acting exactly as Rayner describes.
I don't normally relisten to audiobooks, but this one is definitely going into rotation.
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.
This book came extremely highly recommended by a friend whose taste I trust implicitly. I should note, however, that she didn't recommend the audiobook.
I immediately disliked the main character, Sunshine, but as I listened more, I realized it wasn't the character I disliked so much as the narrator's idea of who the main character is. "Sunshine" is written in first person limited point of view, and Laural Merlington chose to add inflections that made the character Sunshine sound much younger than she is supposed to be. Minor complaints were a little too emphatic, and serious revelations read far too flippantly. If I imagined the words with slightly different inflections, the meaning changed and Sunshine immediately became more reasonable, more relatable, and more likable. Additionally, Merlington has a distinctive voice that sounds very much like an older woman. This is completely acceptable for the character of Sunshine, but way off base for anyone else, most of all Constantine.
The story is solid if you like vampire fiction. Before downloading this book, I highly recommend listening to the sample to see if this is a narrator you can bear to listen to for 15 hours. The narrator will make or break this for you.
I'm a sucker for apocalyptic stories, and this one fits the bill. The premise isn't original, but it's handled in a way that I found immensely interesting. I especially enjoyed the background events as people group and splinter as they adjust to the new reality. The book asks a lot of questions about sexuality, parenthood, and consent, but it doesn't really answer any of them. This might be a great selection for a book club.
The book is written in first person and the limited viewpoint can be frustrating, especially since the protagonist is a teenage girl. On the other hand, she is realistically written and while I, as an adult, find her decisions difficult to accept, they are exactly what many teenagers would do.
I don't usually get emotional over books, but I did tear up a little at the end. I only wish that there had been an epilogue to the story, something to let the audience know how the MDS situation shakes out.
Fiona Hardingham does an excellent job with the narration. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another book with her as the narrator.
There are a lot of issues with the book. As mentioned before, the premise is unoriginal, the protagonist is, at times, unlikable, and the end of the book leaves the reader with questions. But the book is extremely compelling and has a story that will stay with you long after you have finished it.
The Doctor takes Rose to her first alien planet where they are immediately captured, separated, and imprisoned on different planets. As Rose fights to get back to the Doctor, the Doctor uncovers an alien plot to... oh, I don't want to spoil it. The idea is interesting and we see some familiar baddies, but the execution just didn't work for me. Because the Doctor and Rose are separated, what we essentially have are two different stories and almost no interaction between the two main characters. Another problem is the story drags on far too long. Three times I thought the story was wrapping up, only to see that I had several hours of book left to go. Normally, this would be a good thing, but not here. I should have loved this, but I didn't.
That said, I also didn't hate it. The author did a great job of keeping both the Doctor and Rose in-character. We see Rose cope and rebel in a hellish environment and we see glimpses of the Ninth Doctor's soft, compassionate side (always a nice juxtaposition with his normally prickly and hardened demeanor). I also enjoyed some of the original characters in this story. And, as always, Camille Coduri knocks it out of the ballpark as the narrator. I would recommend this story to fans of the Ninth Doctor and those who really enjoy Season 1 bad guys.
The Ninth Doctor is my favorite and I've relished the novels in which he is featured, but The Deviant Strain was the absolute worst way for me to wrap up Nine's stories. It broke my heart to rate this as low as I did.
Poor Stuart Milligan has been torn apart in the reviews, and unfortunately, I can't defend him. It was a gamble to have an American narrate something so quintessentially British, and that gamble was lost. Captain Jack is the only person in this book who is supposed to have an American accent, but Mr. Milligan failed to capture even Jack's voice. I'm no connoisseur of British accents, but even I can tell that the accent Mr. Milligan used for the Doctor in no way resembles the Northern accent of Christopher Eccleston. None of the characters sound like themselves and it really pulled me out of the story.
Speaking of the story, I didn't care for it, either. The setting is interesting, but the plot and motivations have left me cold (no pun intended). Full disclosure: I have not finished this story, and with 90 minutes left to go, I probably never will.
I would recommend this book only to people who feel compelled to have complete collections. It is not enjoyable in the least.
The world Blythe creates in this novel is completely believable and I found his original characters realistic. While this novel isn't particularly scary, I did find the depictions of the Autons actually horrific, something that was not possible to really convey in the live-action show. This book has a strong storyline, good characters, just a hint of timey-wimeyness, and Georgia Moffett nails the characters' voices. It is good, clean, Doctor Who fun!
I love watching Doctor Who, but I haven't enjoyed the Eleventh Doctor as much as I had hoped I would. I think part of the problem is the show isn't quite as character-driven as it once was. But I think that's why I enjoyed this book so much. It fills in a lot of the gaps I feel the show has left, character-wise. The Doctor and Amy banter with each other and you finally get the sense that they really are best friends. You can see their relationship grow within the book and I really enjoyed that.
The story is also a very good one. Little revelations are had throughout so you're never quite sure exactly what's happening until the very end. I also really enjoyed how the language shifts depending on the point of view the story is being told from. The language is old-fashioned when told from the Morphans' point of view and more casual when told from Amy's or Rory's. I especially enjoyed listening to Amy's inner monologue and counting the number of times the word "stupid" came up.
Michael Maloney's narration was also very good, although the voice he uses for the Doctor seems off to me and ended up sounding unintentionally silly.
If you're looking for a book that feels like The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter had a baby that grows up, goes to college, becomes a bitter, disaffected Millennial, then goes on an adventure, this is for you.
Despite that description, I really enjoyed this book. It took a while to get into, but when it finally started clicking, it held my interest for the remaining 16 hours. And that's saying quite a lot for a book in which the very loose plotline takes the majority of book to present itself. Most of the book feels like a series of events that have nothing to do with one another, but it builds beautifully to a climax that feels real, and scary, and significant.
The length of the book gives the author the opportunity to truly flesh out the characters. These characters feel real, and that's the highest praise I can give any author.
There were a few things that I didn't enjoy. Firstly, while the characters are fully-formed, they're deeply flawed and not particularly likable. I was engrossed in the story, but I didn't relate to any of the characters. This made it impossible to empathize with them in their darkest moments. Secondly, the author sometimes talks about one character's "Oregonian" accent, once even calling it "exaggerated." As someone who speaks with the same non-regional American dialect people from Oregon use, I can't even begin to imagine what this sounds like. These complaints didn't keep me from enjoying the book, but it is keeping me from giving it a five-star rating.
Mark Bramhall does a superb job with the narration. Each character has a distinct voice and Mr. Bramhall's dark delivery sets the appropriate tone for the story.
As I said in the first paragraph, this book evokes images from The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, but this is not a children's book. The characters use foul language and there are depictions of sex, albeit none very graphic.
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