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Caleb

Jamestown, RI, United States

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  • The Land of Laughs

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Jonathan Carroll
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (283)
    Performance
    (258)
    Story
    (255)

    Thomas Abbey is a man stuck in a rut. To kick-start his life, he takes a sabbatical to work on a biography of his favorite writer, the mysterious Marshall France. Although Abbey has been warned that France's daughter, Anna, has blocked all previous attempts at her father's biography, he is surprised to find her the soul of small-town hospitality and quite excited about Abbey's proposal. Even stranger than Anna's behavior, though, is the town itself. The people seem to know what their future holds - freak accidents and all - down to the hour.

    Acacia says: "It's Not You - It's Me"
    "Great premise, great performance, BUT..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I would delete the last few paragraphs. It doesn't spoil any of the ending for me to say that the final scene of the book was more or less unnecessary, and the twist therein left more more frustrated and annoyed than pleased. The story ended with a triumphant finish, then there was an epilogue, and then the epilogue got its own finish that didn't really work for me.

    More importantly, I would speed up the pace of the first part of the book. By a lot. A real lot. I feel like this would have been an absolutely amazing short story, but was only a so-so novel. I stuck it out because I wanted to see what Neil Gaiman so admired about it, and I started listening in the first place because the premise sounded so cool. Someone starts writing a biography of his childhood hero, and things start getting weird. Great. I'm sold. A whole town full of people who know their own futures? Awesome. Bring on showing me the psychological implications of that, both for them and for an outsider coming in. BUUUUUT, see the next part of this review for the reason for my three stars.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The premise was wonderful. Unfortunately, the book is divided into three parts, and the premise *does not even appear until part three*. The first few pages were very misleading. The protagonist collects creepy masks and meets a mysterious woman who shares one of his obscure interests and hand-carves creepy marionettes? Yes please. Tell me more. Instead, for the next five of eight total hours, I got to listen to them doing some preliminary research, finding a few contradictory details, moving to a sleepy Midwest town, and finding out some more mundane things. I spent most of those five hours wondering when the interesting part would come, and re-checking the description of the book to make sure I hadn't accidentally gotten the wrong one. Sure, it was "good writing" and I appreciate that, and the voice actor did a great job, but about 2/3 of the story was utterly uninteresting to me. What I was expecting to be the bulk of the book was actually an extended conclusion... It was a very good conclusion, sure, but the excessive build-up left a sour taste in my mouth.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Depends on what the trailers played up. If they billed it as an obsessed biographer losing his grip on reality in the midst of a love triangle, not a chance. Pass. If they billed it as a biographer accidentally discovering a town full of impossible things, perhaps. But I doubt I'd feel like I got my $14 worth.


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