I was interested and entertained throughout this entire audio book. The reason for this was mostly the fascinating subject - Cobain and Nirvana - rather than the writing. Many of the author's anecdotes were frustrating. He often describes odd behavior - how could he not when the subject is Cobain and the people around him? - but the author often does not explain or even speculate about why the people behave as they do. I'm referring mainly to small things - not suicide, drug addiction, depression, etc. For example, Cobain tackles and wrestles with Courtney Love in public shortly after they meet. Does he do this playfully, or as a result of his social awkwardness? Or are they both just wasted? The author doesn't say or speculate. There are lots of sloppy flaws like this in the book, which can be distracting and frustrating. If a real biographer (not a rock journalist) wrote a book about Cobain, it would move to the top of my list immediately. For now, "Heaver than Heaven" appears to be the best book available about Cobain and Nirvana.
I was surprised by the phoniness of this book. I thought the characters would really talk and act like teens. But you can hear and see the adult authors pulling the strings behind everything they say and do. It appears that some catch phrases and ideas are grabbed from kids' TV shows or movies, which makes the characters even more phony and boring. The teens in Harry Potter are more real than Nick and Norah.
I started reading, rather than listening to, this novel because I knew Stephenson is no minimalist. A fast pace and a spare writing style is the best (maybe only) kind I can listen to without zoning out. I could tell "Reamde" would be an exception so I switched to my iPod and finsihed the book in a few days. Even when he delved into details while time (in the story) slowed to a crawl, I always remained very interested and attentive. Never once did I zone out during this long book. The only thing that really bothered and distracted me was the narrator's pronunciation of "Reamde." While reading the book, I established the word in my head as "reamed," with the "e" at the end silent -- "reamed" doubling as a typo and meaning "screwed," which you are if the Reamde virus infects your files. The author must have meant it that way; it makes perfect sense. But the reader pronounces it "ream-dee," and my mind corrected him every time. It was distracting.
Otherwise, the novel was convincing and entertaining. It's packed with information, but the details don't get in the way of the story. They serve the story - to make it more compelling and real. The Russian mafia are in this book, so you might think it's going to be pulp garbage. Not so. They seem real. This book is long and at times the pace is slow, as I've mentioned, but it still flies by. I would have kept listening indefinitely and plan to check out Stephenson's other books.
It's hard to know what to say when so many people have rated a terrible book, like 14, so highly. I want to warn discerning readers to avoid this book and not waste their credit, or money. I'll just say that, in general, to find out if a book is good enough to even try, do a Google search of the author and title. If the book (like 14) has not been reviewed by any major newspapers or magazines, consider that a red flag. This book has not warrented any attention - not even negative attenion - by publications or professional reviewers. I paged through about six pages of Google results and didn't find one review. I wish I had done that earlier. I also wish I had read the negative review here - I found only one, and it clearly states what is wrong with the story, which I won't bother repeating. I'll just say it's not really a story at all, and the book disintegrates into nonsense and bordeom.
King can't do romance, and he can't do humor. Both of those elements in 11/22/63 are really, really bad. He's a good storyteller, and that's about it. This novel should be cut to about 20% of its length. It might make a good novella or short story. As a novel, it's mediocre at best.
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