I have become a big fan of Brandon Sanderson's work and this new series does not disappoint. He has created another interesting world full of rich characters and I can't wait for book two.
The same narrators from the Wheel of Time series re-unite with Sanderson to create another winner. Mistborn, Warbreaker, Elantris, and now this work vaults Sanderson to the top of my must-read list. This book is so good I will gladly listen to it again as a refresher when book two comes out!
Would you do it if they could make you young again? In the future, the Colonial Defense Force recruits 75 year olds to fill their ranks. Rumor has it that if you sign up, they will make you young again, but since nobody that joins the CDF ever returns to Earth, it's hard to know for sure. It is a minimum 2 year commitment that can be extended for up to 10 years and many people decide to go for it. Are your next 10 years on Earth worth passing up for 10 years of combat in space? With the chance you might be young again many think it is.
This interesting concept, and the technology behind it, forms the core of this futuristic tale. It starts with 75 year old John Perry, whose wife has recently passed away. It is John’s 75th birthday and after a visit to his wife’s grave he is off to the recruiting office, after all, what does he have to lose? I won't spoil any of the facts after that for you, but I will say that I enjoyed finding out what awaited John after he took the plunge. The book did have its ups and downs and I enjoyed the beginning and the end a lot more than the middle, but overall the future tech was interesting enough to carry the day.
William Dufris is ok as the narrator, but I didn't think he was a great fit for this; however, the story was intriguing enough for me to give the second book a listen as well.
Divergent paints the picture of a dystopian future where society is divided into 5 factions. Upon reaching the age of 16 each person must undergo an aptitude test to reveal which faction best suits them. On the following day, Choosing Day, a public ceremony takes place where each teenager makes the choice that will define them for the rest of their lives.
The story begins as 16 year old Beatrice Prior undergoes her aptitude test and makes her life altering choice. Upon joining a faction, she must pass through the rigors of Initiation to become a full member, and if she fails, she will wind up factionless, which means a dreary life of servitude. Initiation is different for each faction, but can involve psychological tests that are administered after being injected with a serum that allows an artificial landscape to be formed inside your mind.
Although this book is targeted at young adults it does have an appeal that transcends that classification. Of course it is full of teenage angst and the blossoming of first love but there is also an interesting backstory of the struggle between the factions themselves. Beatrice finds herself at the center of the struggle between the factions and she must take a lot of risks to find out the truth of what is going on. Emma Galvin does a fine job as the narrator and her voice seemed an excellent fit for the material especially Beatrice.
This is the first book of a trilogy and thus is not complete. The story arc gets off to a good start here and I definitely enjoyed this book; however, in the vein of full disclosure I recommend that you take a peek at the reviews for book 3, Allegiant, before you decide if you want to start this series.
I have listened to many books that deal with the fall of civilization as we know it. Be it nuclear war, zombies, aliens, an EMP or a virus, each story provokes the same questions for me: What would I do? Could I survive in this new world? Would my morals be tossed aside when my survival hangs by a thread? That is what makes the genre so interesting to me.
Earth abides approaches the fall of civilization in a very different and laid back way. Mankind is practically wiped out overnight and the world becomes a lonely place for the few survivors. There is no gigantic battle or war as a back drop for this tale, nor is there any real lingering threat from the contagion that practically eliminates the human race. Rather it is a theoretical tale of what would happen to the earth if you took humans out of the mix. With our modern life so focused and dependent upon interactions with others would any of us even know what to do if we suddenly found ourselves alone in this world?
The main character in the book, Ish, fancies himself an observer of life, and we basically become the observers of Ish. The book is divided into the 3 distinct stages of Ish and his life after the fall of mankind and it is a rather meandering journey. Due to the slow pace of the book, you will find your own mind wandering and contemplating the world in new and unique ways. For me this was a double edged sword. It made me think of some things I would not have normally considered but it also gave my mind plenty of time to find fault with certain events in the book.
In the end, I enjoyed the book and thought Jonathan Davis did well as the narrator; however, it never consumed me as it has done to so many of the other reviewers here on Audible. If you are looking for a different approach to the post-apocalyptic genre and are in the mood for some mental meandering then you should give this one a go, but if you are looking for a tense story of the struggle for survival then you should seek your fix elsewhere.
Ender's Game is considered a classic Sci Fi novel and after listening to this 20th anniversary version I can see why. There are plenty of concepts here to take issue with but I was so quickly sucked into the story of Ender Wiggen that I just went with the flow and didn't get caught up in the things that didn't make much sense.
Twice before the human race has faced extinction at the hands of the Buggers, an alien race that ruthlessly attacks without communicating in any way, and many feel the 3rd war is imminent. It is within this context that we learn about the battle school set up by the "IF" to train children to become commanders of the human fleet. With the 3rd war almost upon us, humanity is running out of time to prepare. The powers that be will cut any corner and take any risk they deem necessary to get ready because if they fail there will be no humans left to condemn their actions as immoral.
The children that enter battle school are heralded as heroes as they essentially forfeit their childhood (and lives) to be tools of the military. Ender Wiggen is one such child and the centerpiece of the story. Due to population issues, couples in this future are expected to be "compliant" and have no more than 2 children. As a "third" child Ender's life is forfeit to the military to be used as they see fit. He is monitored and manipulated from the moment of his birth which was permitted only because of the potential shown by his siblings.
We come to know many of the ways that Ender is being manipulated, but not all of them. This knowledge puts us in a morally ambiguous position when judging his actions. Is Ender truly responsible for his actions or is he a victim of circumstance? Should he resist this pre-ordained path and perhaps forsake mankind to the Buggers or suck it up and do when is needed of him?
I recommend you give it a listen and draw your own conclusions about Ender Wiggen.
This is a fairly easy book to recommend because if you are reading this review then chances are you found the first 2 books entertaining. Know that this is the best of the three and you can pick it up without hesitation. If you haven't read the first 2 books then you should not start here as many things will not make sense to you.
Overall I enjoyed the series, especially the story surrounding the dragons, wizardwood, and the live ships. It was definitely interesting and unique fantasy fare. The first book started a little slow and introduced many disjointed story threads. The second book picked up the pace and started to bring the threads together. And finally, the third book converged all of the story lines to end an age and usher in a new one. It all concludes nicely at the end so continuing on to Robin Hobb's next series about the Rain Wilds is purely optional.
Anne Flosnik is still the narrator and her performance here is consistent with the first 2 books.
You really should read the first 2 books in this series before you pick up Ex-Communication. Many of the occurrences in this book are tied to the events and actions that took place in the first 2 books and having that context is necessary. Besides, if you like the first 2 books then you’ll be reading/listening to this one in no time at all. All of the Heroes will seem like old friends by the time you get here and you’ll be glad to spend more time with them.
Similar to the start of Book 2, Ex-Communication reveals that the Heroes have been busy in between books. The wall around The Mount has been extended and the relationships between the Heroes have grown as well. Legion is getting smarter and his ability to control the zombie horde is advancing. In addition to adding a new Hero to the mix (Corpse Girl) Peter Clines provides more insight and background to events from the first 2 books. Amongst other things, we learn why Zzzap has been talking to himself and why Dr. Sorensen insisted his daughter wasn’t dead.
It started with Super-Heroes and Zombies, then came the Super-Soldiers, and now Demons and Sorcery emerge to take center stage with a little nano-technology thrown in for good measure. At first I wasn’t thrilled that Clines went in this direction, but after a while I got over it and just went along for the ride. This is more comic book style storytelling delivered in the same “Then” and “Now” format we are used to. The cast of narrators is once again outstanding, so if you are a fan of the series then you will gobble this up quickly.
I read many of the reviews that Audible bubbles to the top and was persuaded to give this one a go. This book is called a classic and some of the other reviews dismiss certain criticisms as unwarranted. Well I am here to add my voice to the dissenters.
First the positive. There is certainly an interesting story here about mankind's first contact with a new life form on the planet Solaris. This alien is an ocean and it is so different from our notion of life that it sparks hundreds of years of debate and becomes a new branch of science. We join the story as Kris Kelvin arrives at Solaris station and begins to try to solve the riddle.
Kris meets the other scientists stationed on Solaris and it is obvious right away that something strange is going on. The interactions between the characters can be awkward at times but I can let that slide due to their questionable mental state and the fact that this book is a translation.
However, strewn throughout the book are long periods of time when Kris is searching for clues and reads scientific books and journals that contain theories about Solaris. These range from the philosophical to the scientific. While it is impressive that Stanislaw Lem was able to create so much detail within his story it doesn't make it entertaining to listen to. These boring periods can be oppressive and if you are driving while listening then you risk falling asleep at the wheel. Alessandro Juliani does the characters well enough but he can't bring life to the dead sections of the book.
Combine the long periods of boredom with an unsatisfying ending that feels incomplete and I just can't recommend this one.
Red Country has more of a Wild West feel than Abercrombie’s prior works but he pulls it off nicely. The Far Country is a rough and mostly unsettled land where people looking for a second chance at life take their dreams to die. The main story follows Shy South who seeks to find her brother and sister after they are abducted from her family farm and she will stop at nothing to recover them. She follows their trail deep into the Far Country and along the way encounters a number of familiar faces from past books. Things go from bad to worse and after a while it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad. Revenge motivates many of the characters and that never works out well for anyone when Joe Abercrombie is wielding the pen.
If you have not read the First Law trilogy then I suggest you do so prior to picking up Red Country. Unlike Abercrombie’s other standalone books, there is just too much here that you will miss out on if you don’t know the background of some of the returning characters. However, if you enjoyed the trilogy then you should gladly spend your credit on Red Country. You will once again find yourself rooting in vain for your favorite characters to receive a happy ending that you know is never going to happen.
Steven Pacey, narrator of the First Law trilogy, returns to replace Michael Page who narrated Abercrombie’s last 2 books. Pacey does his usual excellent job, but it does take some time to get used to new voices for Shivers and Nicomo Cosca.
Elantris is Brandon Sanderson’s first widely distributed book and is named after the ruined city of Elantris, which is the focus of the story. It is an excellent book and a complete story, despite the fact that Brandon does plan to eventually write a sequel.
Within Arelon an affliction known as the Shaod transforms certain individuals into an undead state where one’s body no longer repairs itself. Arelon society treats anyone afflicted with the Shaod as dead and sends them into the ruined city of Elantris for the remainder of their existence.
Elantrians feel pain and it is a pain that will never go away or diminish as they have no ability to heal. Over time, an Elantrian will accumulate injuries, each time adding to the level of constant pain they feel. Eventually, many go mad from their suffering. Within the walls of Elantris, a desperate, broken society has formed where the strong prey on the weak and the existing inhabitants take advantage of the newcomers sent to join them.
Raoden, the Prince of Arelon, is taken by the Shaod and thrust into the living hell that is Elantris; however, he refuses to abandon his humanity and seeks to improve the state of affairs within Elantris. Brandon’s concept for this book, while basic in nature, is told within a setting that contains interesting magics and complex politics. Jack Garrett does a fine job as narrator and felt like a good fit for the material.
This book is certainly not as polished as Sanderson’s later works, but I enjoyed the story just the same. It is a worthy listen and certainly left me wanting more. I look forward to the day that the decade long wait for a sequel comes to an end. :)
As usual for a Joe Abercrombie book, it is hard to tell the winners from the losers in this gritty, bloody tale. The Union and the North are fighting a vicious battle and both sides as a whole are as flawed as the individual characters within them. I was glad to see some old acquaintances from the first 4 books return, including Black Dow, The Dogman, Shivers, Bremer dan Gorst, Calder, and Bayaz.
The scenes range from absurd to tragic, and from humorous to merciless as a constantly shifting point of view gives the reader insight into events on both sides of the battle lines. The Union is it’s incompetent, bureaucratic self, but bolstered by the larger numbers and superior science. The North is full of hardened veterans who are ready for war, but they are just as happy to kill each other as they are the Union. These two flawed armies clash at a site called “The Heroes” and each does their best to win and lose the conflict at the same time.
When reading the First Law trilogy, I really enjoyed the scenes that involved the Northmen so I was happy to get a big dose of Northern culture and wisdom in this book. The interactions between the Northmen, even those on opposite sides of this fight, are always entertaining and often humorous. The Bloody Nine does not appear in this book but he is referenced plenty of times and his reputation has not diminished with his disappearance.
I found this book much more engaging than Best Served Cold and felt that it was on par with the books of the trilogy. There are interesting personalities on both sides of the battle lines and any of them could be sent back the mud at any time. The end of this book is similar to the end of the trilogy in that more details are revealed about what was really going on behind the scenes, so it wraps up nicely.
I see a lot of negative comments about the narration in other reviews but I feel that Michael Page does an excellent job. After listening to Steven Pacey’s brilliant performances in the first 3 books I too was disappointed to have Michael narrate the 4th; however, I must give Michael his due here. He brings ample personality to the many characters of The Heroes and I felt it was a step up from Best Served Cold. Of course his characters don’t sound the same as Pacey’s versions – get over it and enjoy them anyway! I certainly did.
Report Inappropriate Content