There is a lot to like about Redshirts and Scalzi creates an interesting meta-universe that gives a backstory to the disposable extras the filled many an episode of Star Trek. The book pokes fun at a storied television franchise and goes from silly to absurd as the junior crew members do what they can to avoid going on away missions. One inside joke after another keeps things entertaining and the tale goes from simple to complex as it unfolds.
Be warned that there is also a lot to dislike about Redshirts. The characters aren’t very deep and the story is more about the running joke than it is about the characters. You will also quickly grow tired of hearing “he said/she said” in the dialogue.
As a self-proclaimed geek and former actor on a Star Trek series, Wil Wheaton is a natural fit as the narrator here. I have enjoyed other books read by Wil but I didn’t feel like this was one of his better readings. He doesn’t do a lot of voices so it can be hard at the beginning to keep track of all of the various characters; however, Wil is still adequate and it is the story itself that will either keep you entertained or drive you away. If you are a SciFi fan capable of having fun at the expense of a beloved television series then this book is for you.
Brandon Sanderson is a masterful writer and I look forward to anything he publishes but I hesitated to jump on Steelheart because Super Hero fiction is not at the top of my favorite genre list. However, it is a Brandon Sanderson story so I could not stay away for long...
A burst in the sky known as Calamity knocks society into a post-apocalyptic world ruled by Super Villains known as Epics. The story takes place in Newcago (formerly Chicago) where an Epic known as Steelheart ruthlessly establishes his dominion over both humans and lesser Epics. Everyone knows Steelheart is invincible and even the Reckoners, a group of humans rumored to hunt and kill Epics, won't mess with him.
However, young David Charleston has a secret that he has kept hidden for the last 10 years. He has witnessed something that no other living person ever has - he has seen Steelheart bleed. He hopes to somehow use this knowledge to exact revenge on Steelheart for killing his father but he knows he will never be able to do that by himself. That is where the Reckoners come in....
In true comic book superhero fashion this story is a thrill ride full of impossible situations and long odds for the good guys. Although it isn't very deep, the story kept me interested and Sanderson's characters all have unique and interesting personalities. MacLeod Andrews is excellent and he does a great job on the character voices. Although I may have been slow to start this series, once I finished Steelheart I did not hesitate to move on to the short story Mitosis and book 2, Firefight. If you are reading this review then I would suggest it is time for you to play catch up as well.
Note: if you a fan of Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines then I would think you would enjoy this book as well and vice-versa.
I will admit that I had to start this one a few times to get going. The opening chapters jump around from character to character and right when you start to get your bearings in this complex world a new chapter starts and you are lost again. This is all compounded by the fact that you are exposed to the history of the world along with the present and a myriad of different races of humanity. It is a lot to absorb all at the same time and it is easy to lose track when you don't know what is important and what is not. I am going to guess many listeners do not make it through the first third of this book so be sure you don't start this one when you are distracted.
Things do settle down after a while and the characters start to come together in the storyline but even then it isn't the most interesting tale. Laden with banking contracts and political maneuvering the story slogs on slowly - mostly setting things up for the second book. The very ending ties back to the very beginning and ties off one of the lose ends but I still found myself ambivalent toward most of the characters when it was over. The spider goddess and the powers of her priests do make things interesting but for the most part there is little magic in use throughout the story.
Book 2 is when I really started to care about some of the characters and what was happening to them. If you don't plan to give this series at least 2 books to form an opinion then I would recommend that you save yourself the trouble and go for a different fantasy series. Things definitely get more interesting in book 2.
Pete Bradbury does a good job on the narration and is the narrator for the first 4 books in the series which is all that is available as I write this. (The series is supposed to include a 5th book as well.)
Something is not right in Wayward Pines, Idaho - that much is obvious from the start. After that Blake Crouch slowly reveals just how wrong things are as you experience the story from the perspective of Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke. Ethan is not the type to let things go and the more he peels back the onion the more bizarre things get.
If your listening experience is like mine then you will formulate and discard many theories as you listen until the big reveal finally comes. The reveal itself was a surprise but it wasn't completely fulfilling as some of the explanation given didn't resonate well with me. In order to avoid spoilers I really can't say more about it other than the author does explain it all and doesn't leave you hanging.
This story is like one long Twilight Zone episode so if you like that type of fiction then give it a go otherwise this is not for you.
Book 3 of the Old Man's War series unites the main characters from the first 2 books, John Perry and Jane Sagan, and jumps ahead to their retirement on the peaceful colony of Huckleberry. Of course their relaxed existence is disrupted as interstellar politics and conspiracies take over and they find themselves facing one impossible challenge after another. The Conclave plot line picks up steam and the stakes get ever larger as the story goes on. All of this makes for an interesting enough premise but in the end Scalzi's execution and Dufris' narration just didn't keep me immersed this time around.
A myriad of small plot devices add up as the book goes on and very few of the characters act realistically. John and Jane uncover clues that things are amiss but just go along for the ride putting themselves and their adopted daughter Zoe at great risk. The aliens speak using standard 21st century colloquialisms and General Gau, the Leader of the 420 alien race Conclave, puts himself at risk to personally visit colony planets to speak with the leaders before destroying them. The list goes on throughout the book and the final plot twist at the end was the least believable of the bunch.
I didn't dislike this book but it did leave me uninspired to immediately continue with the series. When I do resume it will likely be with book 5 and not book 4, Zoe's Tale, which is a re-telling of the story from Zoe's perspective. Although the story was ultimately entertaining, once was enough for me.
My experience with the Riyria books started with Theft of Swords and proceeded forward in publishing order, which means I finished the Riyria Revelations series before starting on the prequel stories of the Riyria Chronicles. I believe such a path increased my enjoyment of The Rose and the Thorn simply because of the knowledge I have regarding a lot of the main characters. Arista, Gwen, Reuben Hilfred, and even Percy Braga are fleshed out in this book and I really enjoyed learning more about them. This is a prequel story done right.
Unlike the Crown Tower, the time Royce and Hadrian have a more established relationship which allows Michael J Sullivan to really bring to life the world around them. This approach combined with a compelling story line makes this book as good as the latter works of The Riyria Revelation series. It also reveals the root causes for certain events that will happen much later in the series so MJS is working his magic in both directions making both Chronological and Publishing viable listening orders.
Either way you can't go wrong with this book. Tim Gerard Reynolds is well established as the voice of the Riyria characters and he does not disappoint. Note that if you pick this one up then there is no need for you to also grab The Viscount and the Witch as that is fully contained as a chapter within this book.
A bleak future offers little hope to those born in the overcrowded cities of the North American Commonwealth. Andrew Grayson and his parents live on welfare and he has no intention of inheriting that limited existence from them. Andrew opts for the only choice that appears to be a brighter future - he joins the Armed Forces. After all, if he makes it through boot camp then he will have a consistent paycheck of his own and even an outside shot at leaving Earth by being assigned to the Navy.
Andrew quickly learns that the promise of a better life in the military comes with many strings attached and that he is just a small cog in a giant machine. We follow Andrew from enlistment through boot camp and then on to his first couple of assignments. His experiences are varied and complicated but unfortunately he never really establishes much of a personality for himself. Kloos creates a futuristic world with interesting technology and a plausible military structure but none of it is able to take the book to the next level.
Andrew mostly goes along for the ride in the armed forces and he does what he has to do every step of the way, only occasionally pausing to think about right or wrong. This is pretty straight forward military science fiction and it is more interesting as an introduction to a larger story than it is as a standalone work.
The excellent narrator Luke Daniels does his usual good job but he wasn't enough to push this one to 4 stars for me. The experience was, however, solid enough for me to give book 2 (Lines of Departure) a listen at some point.
I am not going to waste time on a lot of words. If you are a fan of Riyria there is no downside or risk in listening to this free short story. It is Royce & Hadrian read by Tim Gerard Reynolds and that is all you need to know.
As explained in the prologue narrated by the author, Michael J. Sullivan was very satisfied with the way he ended the Riyria Revelations series so his only option for continuing with these characters was to go the route of prequels. He also explained that he penned this book in such a manner that it works well for both readers new to Riyria as well as veterans of the first series. I listened to this one as the latter and having Tim Gerard Reynolds back at the mic made me feel right at home.
Many hints are dropped throughout the Revelations series about how Royce and Hadrian first met and at last here is that tale. Revealed within is the "what" and the "how" behind the forming of Riyria, while series veterans will bring along their own knowledge about the "why." New readers can start here and just listen in "chronological order" and learn the "why" over time. This is well done by Sullivan who continues to endear himself to me due to the way in which he approaches his craft.
I don't go to 5 stars for this one simply because the characters of Royce and Hadrian are not as interesting as they will eventually become after they exert influence on each other for a while. The basic premise of an "odd couple" pairing of the cold blooded killer with the honorable knight stereotype is nothing new, but Royce and Hadrian are unique enough to overcome this cliché and make it worth your time. Veterans and newbies alike should pick this one up with the expectation of continuing on.
I have already started book 2 of this series and I am enjoying it immensely as the melding of these two opposite individuals is taking shape and forming the pair of thieves that I have come to know and love. Did I say thieves? My bad, I should have said "creative problem solvers."
The quote that opens the book summary here on Audible reveals many events that are still yet to unfold as Kvothe's tells his story. Based on that quote, and the events of book one, I started listening to this audiobook with some clear expectations about what would come next. Kvothe's rivalry with Ambrose was at a fever pitch and I was really enjoying his life at the University, so when Kvothe took a break to pursue other endeavors I found myself instantly disappointed.
It took a while for Patrick Rothfuss to win me back but he did so in fine fashion. Vintas society is quite interesting and the Adem mercenaries are doubly so. Although it takes time for Kvothe to get his bearings in each new location it always pays off in the end as they are all presented in exquisite detail.
The structure of this book matches that of the first book with Kvothe narrating his story to Chronicler at the Waystone Inn. There are brief interludes back at the inn where events continue to unfold that don't align with Kvothe's narration at all. This keeps you pondering what must have happened in the time between the two and makes for an interesting dynamic. When this book ends there is still a lot of Kvothe's story left to tell so don't expect this book to wrap anything up for you. This is all about the journey and not the destination.
If you weren't a fan of book one then steer clear of this as it is pretty much more of the same only in a lot more diverse locations. Rothfuss and Podehl are both very solid again and they have me looking forward to the third book. (Based on the reviews I plan to skip book 2.5 which is a short story narrated by Rothfuss himself.)
Kvothe is a legend and everyone has heard of him. Sure the tales often differ and contradict each other but here is your chance to sort out the truth from the exaggerations. Rothfuss offers you the opportunity to hear Kvothe's story from the man himself and who could pass up an opportunity like that? Grab a chair and a mug and settle in for a long listen.
What makes this an excellent book is the detail of the world that Patrick Rothfuss has created. I always love a detailed magic system in fantasy literature and there is more than one of them to be had in the Kingkiller Chronicles. Kvothe's tale starts when he is young and the listener learns about the various magics in the world right along with him. The style and structure of the story really isn't anything new, but it's done really well. I am amazed at the level of detail provided and yet it is obvious that the surface has barely been scratched. There is a lot more to come in the subsequent books and I am looking forward to them.
So why only 4 stars if everything was so great? Well it took me over half the book to feel like I was really in a fantasy world. For me, Kvothe's language was too much like my own and Podehl's narration only reinforced that feeling. Despite the content it just didn't "feel" like a fantasy book of swords and sorcery. The good news is that I got over it and I am now happily listening to book two. So if you start listening and have that same feeling don't give up - it will pass and you will be glad you stuck it out.
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