I like the premise of this novel: a group of apes become the ultimate reality TV stars and captivate their audience. The "ape house" interludes are the most interesting parts of the book. It became clear very quickly, however, that the characters were paper thin. The female scientist was saintly; the male scientist was cartoonishly evil. Also, the narration of this book drove me absolutely crazy. I almost quit listening an hour into the novel because the narrator inexplicably gives the young woman character an exaggerated "valley girl" accent. It was beyond distracting - it was annoying and not indicated by the text at all.
This isn't an attack, or emotional vitriol. It is based entirely on the rules of logic and presents a calm, clear, and unassailable case for atheism. I was impressed with the author's step-by-step analysis as well as the contemplation, and ultimate rejection, of Christian ideals in a careful, thoughtful manner.
Wilkie Collins, also author of The Woman in White, is a 19th-century British author I have just recently discovered, thanks in large part to the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list. Think Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes. The mystery is ever-evolving, and the detectives, unlike Holmes, are not infallible. Indeed, it is difficult to tell who to trust (the mark of any good detective story), and the shifting narrators make for another layer of character development.
All in all, the book is good fun. Not only was I interested to see how the plot developed, but I also developed a genuine affection for many of the characters, one of whom has ensured I will never think of Robinson Crusoe the same way again.
This is the story of two lonely people. If you have ever felt lonely or isolated, whether due to circumstances or choices, shame or embarrassment, you will connect with these characters. The book isn't only characters, of course; there are several plot twists I didn't see coming. But I was most fascinated with how the characters dealt with each situation.
My only complaint is that it seemed unfinished. I am not someone who needs a storybook ending and everything in its place at the end of a novel but for this one, perhaps because I did connect with the characters so much, I felt bereft at the end. I hope Liz Moore will tell more of their stories so this sometimes-lonely reader can meet up again with her literary counterparts.
I had to be talked into the Harry Potter phenomenon, but once I got into it I became obsessed. So, naturally, I was hesitantly hopeful about Rowling's foray into adult fiction, even though I was still mourning the end of the Harry Potter books and films.
I am mourning Harry Potter no longer.
Don't get me wrong. This is nothing like the Harry Potter books, and if you're looking for a children's book or even an adult fantasy book, this isn't the one for you. However, if you're looking for a complex analysis of a small town, with incredibly profound character development, and shifting viewpoints that illustrate the human weaknesses behind each of our personal and political views, then you will not be disappointed.
About halfway through, I tried to slow down, not wanting it to end, but eventually I just gorged and finished it. Rowling is an incredible storyteller, and her carefully crafted characters will stay with me for quite some time.
The narrator is good as well, and though I don't have a keen ear for accents, there was a difference in classes when he spoke, which rang true to me.
When I first read Erica Jong's Fear of Flying, I was surprised with the ground it was breaking as far as the role of women and their sexuality, the "taking back" as it were, of the sexual landscape. When I read the Golden Notebook, I realized the ground had been broken a decade before.
The novel takes place somewhere around the 1950s and earlier in England. Anna Wulf, a writer, has decided to shun convention. Although she has been married, she is now divorced, and she sleeps with men somewhat carelessly, a contradiction to the Donna Reed stereotypes of the time. She speaks graphically about sex and orgasms and a woman's supposed "place" in society. She is alternately seduced and disillusioned by the Communist party and, perhaps because this novel takes place in England (and was published there), she confronts these subjects bluntly.
There are a lot of frame narratives in the book -- four journals Anna has written in tell her stories, as well as the outside frame of Anna herself. This can get confusing, and while this style is also groundbreaking and in line with postmodern traditions, it can be laborious at times. Still, there are some meaningful moments and if you are willing to be patient, this book will reward you.
This is not the type of book I normally read. In fact, I never would have touched it except it was picked by a friend for our book club, so I was bound to listen.
I'm not really a fan of reincarnation stories, or love stories that are woven into reincarnation stories, but if you are, you will enjoy this book. Even I, despite my dislike of the genre and the subject matter, found myself hooked at one point, lured by the different landscapes and time periods if not for the love story.
The book ends with a loose end; my friend says that's because another book is coming (or probably has come by this point). Not sure I will pick it up, but if this sort of book is for you, you will probably be happy to know it looks like it will be a series of some sort.
I had seen the movie, so I wasn't sure I needed to read the book. But, I'm trying to read all of the books listed in 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, so I downloaded this for a quick listen.
I should have known. Any book, even a short book like this one, has a different feel than a movie, a way of getting into a character's head and sloshing around inside. Unlike the movie, the book is told from the perspective of Chief, which provides an interesting way to look at a story you thought you knew. I found the ultimate consequences doled out (don't worry, no spoilers) much more painful in the book, even though I was expecting it this time. Kesey writes and narrates well, and it's a powerful complement to the movie.
This is one of those books I am so glad I listened to instead of read. The cast of narrators really brings a differentiation and personality to each character, as if you were really listening to different people tell their version of the same story.
This is a story of misconceptions, flawed choices, overreactions, and assumptions, all told through the testimony of witnesses. Not only does Shreve skillfully display how each person's interpretation of an event can be subtly or even substantially different, but the different voices provide complexity for the listener to sort through.
Very well done, and worth the listen.
My first experience with a Julia Sweeney audiobook was her dramatic performance "Letting Go of God." To say this was impacting on my life would be an understatement. I had been doubting my religion for some time, but her book gave me the courage to finally voice my doubts and take the first step down the long path of letting go of god myself.
In this book, Julie talks about adopting her baby and although this time I am not in the same situation at all, I still feel like I understand her world. Something about the way she is so open, so candid -- I want to be her friend! A sweet, insightful, funny look into the joys and pains of adoption, this book is worth an hour of your life. You'll thank me. And also, check out her other stuff.
I have read some critical reviews of this novel -- it's slow, it's boring, and so on. Maybe it's because I like literary novels and enjoy careful thought and the philosophy that can be found in the mundane, but I did not find this book boring at all. Sure, if you have been raised on thrillers and mysteries, this may not be the book for you, but if you like to actually think about your characters, about the politics of your world, then this will be a meaningful book for you.
Okay, so I know I can't actually marry a book, but I truly felt like I was involved in a lurid tryst with this novel, sneaking off to enjoy bits and pieces, pausing the book more often than usual to think about it, or just prolong the experience, because I knew when the book's time ran out, the love affair did as well.
The novel follows Henry Perowne through one Saturday of his life. It turns the usually female domestic novel on its head -- instead, Henry is the one picking up food for dinner that night; he is the one worrying about the children. It is not solely a domestic novel, though; it is set squarely in its political time, i.e., right before we invaded Iraq. The ambivalence and confusion of that time, the unknowns and the possible future, are perfectly captured. As he is British, Henry is just far enough removed that he can comment intelligently on the situation but can do nothing further than that. Protests in London show Great Britain's frustration but these were ultimately futile.
Henry gets into an altercation with a working class Englishman and the confrontation between their two worlds is revelatory. The climactic scene pools all of the sources for Henry's anxieties into one situation he is forced to confront.
It is astounding how well one can feel they know the characters in a novel like this, just by glimpsing one day of their lives. It makes one wonder how much would be revealed of ourselves in one day, if closely analyzed.
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