Dan Brown does shake things up a little bit. Just a little bit. He is still going to have a "shocker", but I don't know, it was kind of not as shocking as his other Robert Langdon books? Like, I was able to figure out the major twist a two or three chapters before the big reveal. But I also felt like he had changed up his formula just a little. I did get some surprises - couldn't guess everything. I find it really amusing that Langdon always has to have a super-intelligent female companion, although to Brown's credit, each of these companions have been very different from each other and in the last two books their roles have also been different. I personally don't care so much about the thriller aspects. Found myself not paying attention during the car chases and stuff, but then listening alertly during the art history parts. Not that I'm an art history buff or anything. But Brown takes us into the Islamic world for a bit, which was refreshing. And he dives, interestingly enough, into genetics in this book. And as far as I could tell, it was legit enough for the context of the book. Anyways, while the performance wasn't brilliant, i liked that the reader did a bunch of different accents and it really helped keeping characters straight.
You can definitely hear the GoT writer in David Benioff's voice (which is different from GRRM's voice, which you can also hear on the show - goes to show that you can pick out the voices of the different writers!)
The story itself was not my cup of tea. It was very much from a male's perspective (which is not a bad thing, it just doesn't give me a lot to relate to) with a wartime setting which I don't typically like to read. But it did approach the wartime scenario from a different perspective than I have seen - the characters are hardly ever in the midst of the fighting and the destruction although they can't altogether avoid it.
David Benioff did make this compelling. And the audiobook had a lot of effort put into it. It was a pretty good narration by Ron Perlman, who I believe is the voice actor who is in a ton of stuff, but the selling point here is the soundtrack of the audiobook which came on during key moments to build up atmosphere.
In the end, I did enjoy this.
It took me forever to finish this because there was very little that kept bringing me back. And this from the author of Harry Potter? There was not one character you could like, she was mercilessly critical of everyone and cynical of every situation she wrote about. The explicitness was a little disturbing coming from J. K. Rowling, but it's her prerogative to be as "adult" as she wants to since she is not writing for younger audiences in this book, but sometimes I think she went overboard.
However, it does get better towards the end. As the story lines come together, you keep wondering how it could possibly end and after hitting their lowest low, many of the characters stop being assholes. Finally, I could believe Jo Rowling wrote this, you know the author who based her entire life's work on the concept of love being the most powerful magic of all, and on the importance of having faith and trust.
And since this was an audiobook, I should add that the narration by Tim Hollander was phenomenal. He could do such a wide range of voices and voices that seem to perfectly fit the characters that you were never confused about who was talking and he could really keep you engaged.
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