This is certainly a top 5 in the SciFi genre. It follows Daniel Suarez's approach of a scientifically & technologically validated story that pushes a couple inches past today's technology and imagines what would happen if it fell in the wrong hands. I loved Daemon and questioned if he could keep up the caliber of writing and think he may have even surpassed his initial offering by keeping the story more succinct, as I felt the Daemon Freedom pairing began to drag slightly.
The audiobook includes actual foreign languages into the reading of the book. This gives an added ambiance of reality to firmly establish a context for the story you are hearing.
Absolutely. I finished the book in 2 1/2 days and each day couldn't wait to start it again
Daniel Suarez has truly carved out a niche in the nearly realistic SciFi genere. In this way, he has become the technical complement to Michael Criton's medically accurate adventures. He is a masterful wordsmith and storyteller who replaces thinly veiled jargon with precisely researched technical detail to keep the informed reader entrenched in the believable world he creates.
This book isn't quite what I normally look for in an audiobook (I generally do intense SciFi/ Fantasy), but ended up being one I loved. I quickly found myself drawn into the story, and it was enjoyable and satisfying, without being overly predictable. I hesitate to say more about the plot - the author's description says enough, and trying to say more would quickly stray into spoilers.
For me, there are two things that make this a great book:
1. Its great story with a quality balance in writing.
2. Its amazing voice acting.
For the former, there are a lot of difficult balances which need to be found for this topic:
- Realistic in the brutality of gladiatorial combat, without being gratuitously violent.
- Honest about interpersonal and romantic engagements, without unnecessary explicit sexual content.
- A coherent plot with allusion that rewards the listener for paying attention, without being overly predictable.
- Detail sufficient to bring the listener into the atmosphere of the events, without it causing the plot to drag.
As a listener to books across the spectrum, I have found too often that religious literature sacrifices realism to avoid violence and sexuality, but this author finds a perfectly appropriate balance. To the other extreme, many secular writers overemphasize these. The ability to give realism without excess is a rare and noteworthy exception for religious fiction. Furthermore, many use such strong allusion to religious themes that the entire story arc can be guessed by page 3, yet this author allows for strong religious themes, without allowing them to make the book too predictable.
About the voice acting, I actually found this the strongest point. As an avid audible listener I have listened to countless voice actors. I find Ramon de Ocampo to have the best ability to voice a cast of diverse characters. This narrator, Joseph Narducci, is the only narrator I have heard who can compare with Ocampo in quality of narration. If you love a book read from a single voice, this may not be for you, but if you enjoy the specific voices in helping bring a book to life there are very few who can do it better.
Overall, I found this to be a good story presented with phenomenal narration, and thus I highly recommend it (without reservation) as a great audible listen.
Rob Bell attempts to dispel some of the anecdotal theology which has come up to surround the Bible that is unsupported by the Bible itself. To this end he succeeds, but he quickly moves from dispelling bad theology to doubting incontrovertible truths of scripture. He rightly identifies god as the focal point of heaven, the reality of a physical and enjoyable place, and the need for condemnation of the unrepentant. However, he fails to close the door on some heresies which the Bible is in fact explicit about. He emphasizes God's love to the point of mistaking it for the whole of God's character rather than one of his attributes, and skews his interpretation of what love should look like to fit his personal expectations to the point of undoing many well supported doctrines regarding Hell. To this end I would highly recommend reading Francis Chan's book Crazy Love either instead of or along with this book should you choose to read Love Wins. Ultimately, Rob Bell narrowly steers clear of outright espousing any heretical theological positions, but in his exploration of possible interpretation he leaves the door open on many doctrines about which the Bible leaves no wiggle room. I cannot in good conscience recommend this book, either to the unbeliever who could mistake Bell's willingness to abandon sound doctrine with the unsound doctrines at the point of personal preference, or to the believer looking to expand his understanding of scripture as Bell relies more heavily in his own interpretation and assumptions than the vast array of scripture that undermines most of his more controversial conclusions and suggestions. I can only really recommend this book to someone who is interacting with a friend, family member or coworker who is enamored with Love Wins so that you can in love help them to separate the important valid points that Bell makes (which have been made by others before him and will be made by others in the future) from his overreaching assertions brought forth from faulty assumptions and infusing his opinions and definitions to mold scripture to fit his expectations, and then I would recommend supplementing it with either Crazy Love or another book which challenges the conclusions Bell reaches. Finally test everything Bell and others say with the totality of scripture, not just the proof texts they offer. Bell has some good points, but the number of and implications from unwarranted assertions from Bell lead me to recommend against reading this book unless you have a desire and the time to thoroughly engage the text and the scriptures so as to not be misled by some sweet sounding doctrinal errors.
Francis Chan does what few authors are capable of doing: responding to a heresy without overcompensating to the opposite extreme. Chan rightly points out the theological vacuum that under girds Rob Bell's intellectual exercise, "Love Wins", but refuses to go the extreme of being a hell celebrator or fire and brimstone preacher. He insists on a genuinely Biblical conclusion that ought to drive us to love our neighbor more completely, rather than seek to scare them into an apparent conversion. He puts firm intellectual bounds on what the reality of hell might be based on scripture (the main thing lacking from Bell's approach) and puts a strong focus on God's incomprehensible mercy without skipping over the inescapable reality of hell.
This is similar to "Love Wins" in what it seeks to cover, but addresses the topic of hell in a way that is more scripturally honest, intellectually rigorous and ultimately spiritually challenging - asking the reader to throw himself into the merciful hands of God rather than trying to mold God's nature to fit a form of mercy we can comprehend.
I liked the entire second half of the book. I was prepared for a purely intellectual rebuttal to Rob Bell, and was reading through with my expected nodding along with points I agreed with wholeheartedly. Then the author took a turn demanding of the reader to self-evaluate how these known truths were impacting daily living. I was genuinely challenged not by verbose wording or intellectual prowess but by the simple word of God in context to evaluate how I was loving my neighbor and what I was doing in response to the reality of heaven and hell.
I was extremely convicted by the second half of the book. I read it wanting an intellectual exercise and affirmation, but I got that and a spiritual challenge to live more lovingly.
Yes. Wil Wheaton does an excellent job giving voice to the characters and pacing the story well.
Maybe. It felt like the book could benefit some from a Thesaurus and a harsher editor. While the plot moved along fine, his sentence structure and vocabulary remained low and repetitive to the point of annoyance. Lines like "he quietly entered the quite alley" just hearken me back to what I used to write in Junior High. Ultimately, its tolerable, but it is something I wish could be improved.
**********(this isn't revealed until 1/3 of the way through)**********
Star Trek meets Stranger Than Fiction: Star Trek redshirts seek compromise with show writers to escape their imminently written deaths
Ultimately, I found the book just okay. I enjoy the Star Trek universe, and thought that despite being simply a combination of 2 basic plot lines with only average writing the book had a decent pace and was fun to read. Personally I would recommend books like Daemon, Ready Player One, or Reamde to the geek looking for a modern SciFi adventure but if you have exhausted those top shelf options this is certainly worth the time to listen through.
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