Arlington Heights, IL, US | Member Since 2012
Wow, this was an awesome listen. I became a Murakami fan after listening to "1q84" and this was my second Murakami title. I am just as impressed. I found the story riveting, and I couldn't wait to see what happened next.
From the very start, the main character is introduced in full disclosure of all his neurotic, quirky traits. The coin counting, the immediate racing worries regarding the elevator being stuck, and everything else just makes him likable. He isn't like me at all, yet he is relatable, because I have my own weird eccentric quirks and habits. He is not an obnoxious caricature of a person.
The story involves a break from reality of sorts, in which suddenly, strange phenomena is described and we learn of unusual brain implants that the main character had, which exposed him to the domino effect of all that occurs within the story. The tale jumps between the eccentric, colorful man we are first introduced to, to a flat, droll, somewhat lifeless man in a gray and eerie landscape. We begin to learn how these two men are connected, and there is much symbolism and concepts of what consciousness, souls, reality and existence really are.
I don't want to spoil it, so all I will say is, it is a great listen and a fantastic book. Also, the very last few sentences (the bird flying off into the sky lines) really hit me for some reason, tears ran down my cheeks, I felt an eerie understanding of the soul and was reminded of one of my favorite quotes, by Herman Hesse, "The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must destroy a world. The bird flies to God." That is one of my favorite quotes, and it felt strange to see something so reminiscent of it in the ending of Murakami's book, and it left me thinking about the story for days after finishing it.
This was truly a clever book, filled with lines that had me laughing out loud. It was consistently entertaining. The plot moved at a fast and exciting pace.
I did not find it scary or truly a horror, perhaps because the humorous tone really kept things from getting too dark or frightening. I did enjoy the twists and turns of the plot and I feel I was able to enjoy the story even though I listened to this audiobook before its predecessor "John Dies at the End". I have since read the aforementioned predecessor as well and can say this book is even better than the first.
I write this review after having listened through the series up until the 8th book now, so I can say that the storylines have own on me and it makes for a fonder review of the first book.
The world that The Wheel of Time series takes place in has a lot of gender-related issues, from which genders may use magic to what gender roles are or are not. It is hard to get used to from a feminist perspective, but after immersing myself in this world, I have come to think, "This is just how this world is, and this is what is normal in this society." Certainly it is nothing shocking if one looks at the history of the human race in real life, anyhow.
There is a religious-like overtone surrounding the savior-like figure of the Dragon Reborn, reminiscent of several world faiths that have had or currently await a savior figure to be made flesh and turn the whole world around one way or another. The major divisions and organization of the religious/magic using order in this series is interesting and complicated, and we are introduced to it through the eyes of Rand, Perrin, Matrim, Egwane and Nynaeve. In this novel, we see that there is a lot of mystery, mysticism and distrust initially of the Aes Sedai.
R. Jordan has his quirks as a writer. He does tend to immediately describe the breast size, poutiness of the lip, and clothing of introduced female characters, then revisits it frequently whenever the female character returns in and out of the storyline. He also tends to describe the size of the nose, the appearance of facial hair/ mustaches, height and clothing of male characters in the same fashion. It does get annoying at times, but it has never frustrated me to such an extent that I would consider putting the book series down and choosing another.
The first book struggles with truly making us understand the unique characteristics and personalities of Rand and his village friends, and it isn't until later in the series that I realized that Perrin was my favorite, followed by Matrim as my second favorite. Their characteristics, thoughts, attitudes and behaviors are initially lost behind the likely necessary attention the author pays to fleshing out the world the story takes place in. It takes some getting used to in order to keep track of all characters and all the locations and the politics of the story, but it is not different from Song of Ice and Fire in that respect. It isn't too complicated, but it does take a bit of adjustment and getting used to.
As for the performance, we do not hear much from Kate Reading in this book when compared to the other books. She has a pleasant, eloquent voice and I like her characterization of the characters. I also like Michael Kramer's performance, which dominates the majority of this book. He has narrated several audio books I have listened to, and I am used to his voice and enjoy it. He doesn't overact or get too crazy as he narrates, he is just a solid, steady voice and therefore has never been annoying or unpleasant to listen to.
It was hard to get my head around the fact the voice of Harry, James Marsters, wasn't going to be the narrator. Glover does a good job but he had tremendous shoes to fill, and after 12 audiobooks and hundreds of hours of Marsters narrating, it was very difficult to hear Glover narrating and think it was still Harry. Glover' performance is good, but he doesn't have the acting range Marsters does, so he doesn't shout as passionately during heated moments, doesn't get as emotional, etc. Glover's performance is in line with traditional audiobook performances, but I missed Marsters for his acting chops, and for how real he makes Harry Dresden. I feel like I am in Harry's head listening to him think as he goes along through life when it is Marsters narrating, and Glover just felt like a guy reading a book to me.
All that aside, I really enjoyed this book! I think the series dances around what lies on the "other side" and therefore it is definitive proof that there are souls, and that souls survive death, which is in line with my spiritual beliefs. I therefore truly enjoyed the exploration of what it is like to be a ghost or spirit, though we could not see the next step further (what lies beyond when spirits aren't tied to reality but instead go on to wherever they go on in the afterlife)... Harry wonders, too, and I am starting to wonder what the setup is of the afterlife in the Dresden Files universe. I hope that we see more angels and demons, and exploration into the soul and the nature of reality, as the series progresses, simply because I go bananas for any books or TV series that tackle those topics.
I had been worrying how Harry Dresden would pull off sticking to his moral and ethical stances once he is sworn to his post as the Winter Knight. I did not want Harry to make choices that I couldn't at least defend to an extent, as part of why I love him as a character is that I can understand his thought process and how he makes decisions when things fall apart. I can relate to his moral prerogatives and concerns, and even when he makes mistakes, they aren't the sort that make me feel like he has irreversibly betrayed some precious moral code.
I found myself liking how Jim Butcher handles Harry's role as the Winter Knight, since luckily Harry manages to maintain a grasp on his moral compass. Furthermore, Harry is never subservient by nature, and even when under the thumb of queen Mab, he finds ways to do things his way.
I do see that Harry is having some changes, mostly becoming more primal and angry in heated moments, so I hope that Jim Butcher does not keep Harry committed to the Winter Knight post too long. I continue to dread the day that Harry's character loses his grip on his moral senses entirely and does something that will make me feel distaste and disappointment with the series. So far, it's been a tight rope walk that keeps me guessing but which has ended to my satisfaction, but the Winter Knight business is the biggest threat yet to Harry's moral compass.
I love having Marsters back as Harry's voice, I do not want the series to stray from Marsters again, as one of the biggest attractions of the audio books has been the fantastic performance that Marsters does. I have a huge crush on Harry Dresden, because I have had a huge crush on Marsters ever since he was Spike in Buffy.
The series continues to tease us about whether Harry finds a happy, romantic outcome with Karen Murphy. Harry has been single way too long, but his life is complicated, and his feelings for Karen have continued to develop. I have my hopes up that the moral, stabilizing force of Karen in his life will help Harry in the future, especially if the personality changes brought on by being the Winter Knight continue to progress.
I have read all the Discworld novels, and listened to all the audio books, and I must say that this one is among the top 3 for me for this series.
One stand out thing is that a particular detail about the very, very sad use of little jars (people who listened to this audio book will know what I refer to) brought me to tears. I have laughed out loud often as I read Discworld, but this was the first time I had fears fill my eyes, and that is certainly worth noting.
The character development of Vimes over the course of the series culminates in this book, and you are left with a profound respect for him as a human being. He is flawed, but his many fine qualities make him a very likeable person.
I admit that there were many little details that Pratchett masterfully included that had me worrying for Vimes' health as much as his wife does. He feels very real as a person, and he is in his fifties and has some cardiac issues so gets chest pains (though not often), he gets short of breath, he feels exhausted... His wife watches his diet like a hawk, and after subtle cardiac symptoms through the whole book,I found myself holding my breath in concern when he finally indulges in a less-than-healthy meal, I was afraid the book may have been building up to a horrible end in which he dies of a gigantic heart attack. I won't spoil it, but just know that after 39 books, you find yourself worrying about your favorite characters like they are your own family. It is so rare to read a book series that affects me that deeply.
What more is there to be said! Pratchett is a master story teller, his tale is complicated but all the threads are tied together at the end, and the only negative thing I have to say is that this was the last book in the Discworld series (as far as I know at least - I have not seen any news on more Discworld books.)
This is a must-read for Dresden Files fans, and is best read between book 12 and 13. Loved the storyline about Thomas in particular!
Another solid entry in the Dresden Files series. In this book, we see Harry up against the ropes, and in his darkest hour, he makes some desperate choices that take his character into a different, more dark direction. I am intrigued as to where this is headed, so I look forward to starting on book 13.
The 11th book in The Dresden Files shows that the series continues to have fantastic storylines, one book after another have had great plots. The story in this one in particular had me on the edge of my seat, however, as Harry Dresden prepares for an epic, huge fight against a terrifying skin walker.
Plenty of twists and turns in this book, and I was pretty surprised by some things that happen. Molly, Harry's apprentice, let me down with a bad decision, though in some ways I could understand her rationale and I feel frustrated with the rigidity of the laws of the White Council.
Some insight at the end of the book into Anastasia's character had me astounded too, and a plot twist at the book's end regarding Thomas has me itching to read book 12 right away.
This series has not disappointed me yet. While I get nervous whenever a book series stretches on TOO long for fear of the characters ultimately changing too much or for fear of too many cliched soap opera-style plot manipulations, so far the Dresden Files have avoided those pitfalls.
The Dresden Files continue to be an addicting read for me, and the 10th book is yet another strong entry in an already awesome series. There isn't much more for me to say that I haven't said in my other reviews for this series.
I am addicted to the Dresden Files series, and can't seem to put these audio books down. I have been listening to them back to back and can't wait to hear what happens next. I just finished this one, and I have Book 10 going in my headphones already as I write this review.
The plot twists and turns continue to entertain me, and I still find myself getting surprised by unexpected developments. The books don't feel as predictable as other series have been for me. I do like that Harry Dresden remains like able and that I can stand behind his decisions and sound judgment, despite the difficult situations he gets put into.
I was surprised by the way things end up regarding Lashiel though I won't spoil it here as to what I mean. I am glad to see Molly continue to grow in confidence and ability, and I think Harry Dresden continues to be a good mentor for her.
Needless to say, James Marsters continues to be an amazing narrator and I wouldn't want to hear this series performed by anyone else, as his voice and delivery has become synonymous with Harry Dresden's voice in my mind.
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