Normally the books I listen to are 20+ hours long and I definitely prefer longer stories; however, I decided to give Ex-Heroes a try for a change of pace and I am very glad I did. Combining zombies with super heroes didn't really seem like something I would get into but Peter Clines does so masterfully. I felt like I was listening to a comic book and enjoyed every minute of it.
In any post-apocalyptic story I am a stickler for details about the events that led to the collapse of civilization and I always have a real desire to know why it happened. Ex-Heroes does not disappoint on this front and I found the explanation to be perfect for the material. It added some decent depth to the overall story and good background to some of the characters.
This story has plenty of action, lots of zombies and zombie-killing, and some interesting super heroes with a sense of humor. Combine that with two narrators who do a great job with the characters they voice and you have a winning combination.
When I wrote my (too) short review of the first book in this series, The Way of Kings, I ended it with this sentence: "This book is so good I will gladly listen to it again as a refresher when book two comes out!"
Well I am back to say that I followed through on my promise and it was worth every second. The Stormlight Archive is epic fantasy at it's best and Sanderson shows why he is at the top of my must read/listen list. Here I am fresh off of investing close to 94 hours of my life listening to books 1 and 2 of the Stormlight Archive and I am ready for more.
The world is rich and deep, the characters are complex, and the magic systems are true Sanderson - well defined, unique, and interesting. All of the main characters are back and the story just gets bigger and bigger. For most authors the end of this book would be a satisfying conclusion to any series but it is obvious that this one is just getting started. Sanderson set the bar so awfully high with the Mistborn series that I am truly impressed he was able to surpass himself with the Stormlight Archive.
Veteran narrators Michael Kramer and Kate Reading are back and once again breathe life into all of the great characters. It was a pleasure to listen to them both for 90+ hours and I can't wait for book three. These two know epic fantasy and combine with Sanderson to form a perfect highstorm of epic proportions.
If you like fantasy books then you will feel like a kid in a candy store here. It is time for you to run up to the counter and plunk down your credit(s) to enjoy this wonderful experience. You won't find more hours of entertainment for so little cost anywhere else. Of course you should start with The Way of Kings but be assured that 94 listening hours later you will find yourself back at the candy store counter standing on your tip toes and holding up another credit. Of course, I will be standing right next to you. :)
Although Volume 2 of the Ryria Revelations contains two books, Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm, I still felt how I usually feel after reading the middle book of a good trilogy - unsatisfied with how things are left off and ready for more.
Royce and Hadrian continue their adventures and do some digging into their pasts, while Arista sets off on her own and faces some serious challenges. Each of the characters is flushed out some and the bigger picture continues to come into focus. For me, The Emerald Storm was a bit of a tangent and did not advance the main storyline as much as I would have hoped, but any story involving Royce and Hadrian is entertaining so I'm not complaining.
Tim Gerard Reynolds does his normal excellent job bringing the characters to life and at this point I could not imagine anyone else voicing them. So if you enjoyed Volume 1 there is no reason to hesitate on picking this one up, just keep in mind that the story doesn't end here and you will have to pick up Volume 3 as well.
John Scalzi teams up with his friend Wil Wheaton again to deliver Fuzzy Nation, an entertaining short story set on a distant planet. Although this is a modern re-write of an older story it is still obvious that the original story is from a simpler time. Wheaton does his usual solid job as a narrator. He reads well but he doesn't do a lot of voices so his performances are slightly limited compared to some of the other narrators.
This is a classic tale of a corporation exploiting resources for profit and destroying the environment until a new life form is discovered - the "Fuzzies". There is an ensuing legal battle to protect the home world of the "Fuzzies" as scientists and lawyers square off with differing opinions. The moral compass of certain characters waver as vast sums of money are weighed against the protection of this newly discovered species. Scalzi injects his usual humor into the story and 7 hours felt about right for this one.
Although predictable at times if you are looking for a short, light sci-fi story then Fuzzy Nation will serve you well. Not quite a 4 star tale for me and I would have given it 3.5 stars if allowed.
This Zombie novel is delivered as a series of journal entries from a military man who just happens to start keeping a journal prior to the start of the apocalypse. This format works fairly well although as the book goes on some of the entries no longer feel like realistic journal entries. They are too long and detailed and instead feel like chapters in a normal story which works out fine.
Overall this book is less than 7 hours total and there is only so much that can be done in that time frame. At times things feel rushed as the main character has emotional highs and lows that don't match the amount of time that has passed in the book. I listened to this on a long drive and it kept me entertained but felt incomplete when it ended. This is an intro to the series and should be approached as such.
If you are like me and want background details into the root cause of the apocalypse then you should know that little information is ever provided, which in the end feels appropriate for the journal entry format used. As usual Jay Snyder does an excellent job narrating and although I wasn't left with a burning desire to listen to book 2 immediately I am sure I will eventually get to it on another long drive in the future.
The basic ingredients here are pretty typical for a fantasy series: multiple races, a religious mythos, plots & politics, and of course, swords & sorcery. However, Michael J. Sullivan and Tim Gerard Reynolds combine to prepare those ingredients in a masterful way that makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Reynolds in particular does an excellent array of voices and seems to fits the material very well.
The main characters, Royce and Hadrian, both have a sense of humor which keeps the tale humorous and entertaining throughout. Although they are both thieves who take jobs for morally ambiguous individuals, they maintain their own moral code so it is easy to root for them to succeed when things go awry. At times it can be hard to tell if Royce and Hadrian are one step ahead or one step behind but that's all part of the fun.
This audiobook is actually two books in one and well worth the single credit. The first book, The Crown Conspiracy, is a nice introduction to the characters and their surroundings and thus allows the listener to get oriented within the world. There is clearly more than meets the eye going on but the details remain hidden for the most part. In the second book, Avempartha, those details come to the forefront and the bigger picture starts to paint itself. For a while things get confusing but eventually enough details surface for it all to make sense. When book two ends there is still a lot left to sort out so the story won't feel complete without continuing on.
Theft of Swords is a worthy listen for both Fantasy veterans and newbies alike and it will leave you wanting more.
I picked up Reamde because the Audible blurb for this story involved an online game world, hackers, and a virus and it seemed like an interesting topic for a novel. That premise is just the tip of the iceberg and this tale veers all over the place. The main characters wind up all over the globe, and the online world of T'Rain, as spies, terrorists, smugglers, and the Russian mafia all get entangled into the plot. Every step of the way Stephenson ups the ante and the plot almost seems to run out of control.
Reamde moved along nicely but it was always just on the wrong side of being believable for me. The relationships formed by some of the characters were just too strong too quickly and the mechanics of the online gaming world of T'Rain were also just a little bit off. If you aren't an online gamer the latter may not be of concern to you at all; however, if you are picking this up because of the online game connection then you should know that it is only a small part of a much larger story. It is not as central to the tale as it was in "Ready Player One".
Reamde can be a fun thrill ride that will head in directions that aren't obvious but only pick it up if you are willing to embrace a chain of highly unlikely occurrences. Malcolm Hillgartner does a decent job of narrating although he deals with a lot of different accents to various degrees of success.
This book takes place on Earth after the Bugger War and per the author himself this book was inspired by a favorite board game from his childhood: Risk. This book presents to the listener a global game of Risk where the main players are Achilles and Peter Wiggen along with a few of the Battle School kids from Ender's Game. Political and Military maneuvering form the core of this story and Orson Scott Card has clearly put some thought into the geo-political scenarios he presents.
This book also flushes out the back stories of both Bean and Petra and the relationship between them. Bean winds up learning many key things about his own background as the story progresses and the way you view him will fundamentally change. I found Bean's backstory to be more interesting than I expected and for me this was the better part of the story.
Be warned that the recording is pretty poorly done. The readers are good but it is obvious that certain words like Hegemon were mispronounced during the recording. The solution deployed here was to edit in a different reader saying the word correctly after the fact and this makes for a pretty poor listening experience.
So if you can tolerate the poor recording and are interested in learning more about Bean and Petra then give this one a go but if you are looking for more space based Sci-Fi then you should look elsewhere.
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter team up to pen this novel with a very interesting premise: Humans figure out how to "step' which allows them to instantly teleport to an infinite number of alternate earths. Since the technology required to build a "stepper" device is readily available to almost everyone this changes civilization as we know it. Economies collapse and governments struggle to deal with the concept of governing across multiple earths.
This is an interesting concept for sure but the characters created by Pratchett & Baxter are a bit dry and not all that interesting. Pratchett's sense of humor does surface from time to time but those times are too few to carry the day. The story does get more and more interesting as the "Long Earth" is explored but when some larger plot lines eventually emerge the book ends and leaves you hanging.
Only take the plunge on this one if you are willing to pick up more than one book because as a standalone novel it feels pretty incomplete.
Quaeryt is promoted to Commander and he is once again leading his Imager/Troopers into battle. You know the drill: High Holders, iron darts, defensive shields, Antiagon fire, and concealment shields. Sound familiar? If you are thinking about reading book 7 then you know it is. In the end this was a little bit disappointing because the book started out well.
At the outset Quaeryt and Vaelora were sent as envoys to the nation to Khel to convince the Pharsi High Council to accept Bhayar's rule. I found Khel and the Pharsi people to be interesting and the High Council presented a different and unique challenge. The Pharsi added another dimension to the tale and the whole "Lost One" story line was getting fleshed out a bit more. Unfortunately, it didn't last.
The Pharsi story line was eventually put on hold in an unsatisfying way and the latter half of the book was back to the same pattern of battles with only one difference - the enemy now has some imagers of their own. This did make things slightly more interesting but when those Imagers started imaging iron darts and using the same shields I found myself a bit bored. In prior books we experienced Quaeryt "discovering" and creating these battle techniques for his Imagers and I would have expected foreign Imagers with many more years of battle experience to have slightly different abilities in their portfolio. Alas, not so.
So in the end this book is more of the same, for better or worse. The series continues to string me along and once again I find myself hoping for something better in the next book. Since it looks like the Pharsi story line will be picked back up in the book 8, perhaps my patience will pay off.
When you start with a world full of super heroes and zombies and then you add super soldiers and demons to the mix what comes next? Instead of adding a new class of character this time around Peter Clines decided he would throw us a curve ball and change the entire world instead. The narration was also changed to use just a single narrator - Jay Snyder.
This book brings back all of the main characters but they are not super heroes/super soldiers and there are no zombies. This abrupt change is disorienting at first and it takes a while to sort out where this one is headed. I found it interesting to experience the main characters in a more mundane setting and once the story picked up steam it was as engaging as the first three books in a different way. There are many Pop Culture Sci-Fi references to be found in this one and that just endeared the book to me even more. Peter Clines and Jay Snyder have delivered another solid, entertaining story and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
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