It's pretty much like listening to Penn's Sunday School podcast. If you are a fan of Penn or Penn&Teller you are going to enjoy this book. Oh, and it will help if you are a hardcore atheist and skeptic.
So I told my girlfriend to recommend a book that would "shock me"; a book that would make me think "what kind of sick f&%# would come up with something so disturbing?!"
Well I didn't have that exact reaction from Afraid. One theory is because maybe I'm already some kind of sick f&%# myself. :) That's actually a pretty solid theory...
With that said, what I will say is that I discovered a really creative and gripping story. Yes, there is some serious gore, but the author only gives enough detail about those situations to allow your imagination to take it to the next sick level. He doesn't dwell on those details and that keeps the story moving at a great pace.
"Time" is the key for me when it comes to this book. It's the closest I've come to giving up on a book at about the half-way point because very little was happening. The book starts VERY strong and that hooked me, but it faded fast until the second half. Many times I found my mind drifting from the story and when I snapped back after who knows how long I found I hadn't missed anything important. That was the majority of the first half of the book for me. The book was highly recommended by a person I trust and that's pretty much the only thing that kept me going hoping it would get more interesting... and it DID.
I am glad I waited, but I was a little soured that I had to wait so long for what I felt was the story to actually begin. The second half of the book kept me gripped and interested to the end and I enjoyed it very much.
Regardless of the first half, I do recommend Wool. I would suggest keeping your expectations low for action and interest until you get into the second half. I wish I could say skip the first half, but there are key elements you need for the second half to work. Maybe listen to it at double speed?
I have to confess, I stole that comparison of Castaway and Apollo 13 from another reviewer, but I couldn't think of anything more accurate than that description. Castaway for the seclusion and abandonment of the main character's situation; and Apollo 13 for the sheer intelligence and creative problem solving using real-world (Earth AND Mars) science, physics and common sense.
Maybe I would compare a touch of the Big Lebowski for the F-bombs throughout the story... Which I also appreciated and felt they were well placed.
The narrator was absolutely brilliant - Period. He portrayed the main character perfectly and brought the emotion and humor to the forefront. He did a great job with all the characters making it easy to follow conversations between them.
I seem find some joy in picking out at least one petty criticism for a narrator so here it is. One of the characters who I believe is supposed to have an Eastern Indian accent turned out sounding like a big American Indian Chief. So much so for me I just imagined the character as that Chief and it worked for me. You will know exactly what I mean when you hear it.
If we had manned space missions to Mars today, this is the kind of story so well written and thought out it could be told as "based on a true story". That's how realistic it was.
Dig hard enough and you might find a few flaws, but they are so few and so insignificant it won't matter. You also don't need to be a PhD to follow the physics and science of the problem solving skills - Especially as an audio book! That's my biggest appreciation for listening to this book in lieu of reading it. If I had to read it, I would have been compelled to slow down, reread and try to understand every sentence so I didn't miss anything... it would have put me to sleep. Listening to it kept the pace moving perfectly and frankly, you don't need to understand every nuance of the math. Nothing is lost in the story.
By the end of this story you are going to be more intelligent, like it or not. You are going to learn things about Mars you never new - Real things. You are also going to learn some science - Real and fascinating science. Enjoy!
Okay, all the characters in this story are pretty hardcore, but (without giving anything away) most of the ladies in this story are truly bad-ass. What is it about smart, powerful women with authority that does it for me?
Imaginative, creative, fantastical, unpredictable and gripping. Those are qualities in a story that keep me interested and The Rook had them all. I highly recommend this book.The narrator overall did a good job and by no means would I dissuade you from this story by the few and fairly petty criticisms I have with the narration. You will notice early in the story she has a peculiar way of ending a sentence. Not sure how to describe it, but you will hear it. If you can get used to that (like I did), then you will be fine. The next issue I have is that she blasts through the witty jokes without any inflection to let you know a joke has just come and gone. It's difficult to recognize sarcasm without inflection. The humor is classically British, dry and clever which I love, but she reads it in a manner that makes it difficult to recognize when the character is being sarcastic or humorous. The only other thing was that her American accent for a character made me wince a little (I know, petty).
There are enough unforeseen and imaginative twists in the story that keep your attention and make you happy you can't guess the next move. Just when you think you know what's going to happen next- "Well, she is clearly going to need to..." POW! Twist... Woah... Cool... Loved it.
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