I ran across this book when checking out Austin Grossman's 'Soon I Will Be Invincible'. The book was in the list of things that listeners who bought 'Soon I Will Be Invincible' also bought. I am a fan of the zombie, both as a literary metaphor (like in Alden Bell's [Joshua Gaylord's] novel 'The Reapers Are the Angels') and as just a pretty cool subject of horror fiction (as in most incarnations). I have also been a reader of comic books and a lover of super heroes since my early childhood. The idea of throwing the two things together seemed interesting to me.
I have to say that I'm glad I picked up this book. The heroes aren't entirely original, but they are characterized well and fit well into the story. The story itself is also constructed pretty well. The descriptive quality of Clines' prose is a bit ham-handed sometimes ("like a missile through a garden trellis") but doesn't take away from the story too much.
The performance of both the narrators is excellent. The differences between the voices of the characters they portray are subtle but easily recognizable.
I plan on checking out the first sequel to this novel ('Ex-Patriots'), which is also available here on Audible, and the upcoming third novel in the trilogy (which may already be out in print but not yet on Audible).
The story is essentially fluff, but if you like super heroes and zombies, it's worth a listen.
'Geek Love' is a rare piece of fiction, one that lives up to its highest praise and proves wrong its detractors. Of all the novels and stories I have read that are included in the growing cannon of "transgressive fiction", 'Geek Love' is both the greatest of those works, and the one that is most truly transgressive. It is a novel that explores what it means to be a freak. What is a freak? Who makes somebody a freak? How does a person become a freak? What is the life of a freak like? Do freaks love? Why are so-called normal people both repelled and grotesquely attracted to freaks? Katherine Dunn explores all of these questions and more with a refreshing candor and a remarkable amount of compassion.
Aside from being a powerful exploration of freakdom, the novel is also the chronicle of a family that is, in their own highly unorthodox way, as all-American as any other. As I listened, I experienced both the thrill of their rise and the pain of their disturbing disintegration.
Where Christina Moore, the narrator of this title, is concerned: I do not think I have ever heard a more lively or enthralling performance of an audiobook. Christina Moore brings each character to life through changes in pitch, cadence, tone, and diction. Her voice captures and conveys perfectly the range of emotions felt by the characters and draws the listener into the story, appropriately enough, like a slick and experienced pitch-man.
After listening to the final words of this novel, you may be disturbed, you may be heart-broken, but you will most definitely not be the same as you were when you started. That is a guarantee from my lips to your ears. So plunk down your two bits and step on in because you won't believe what you're about to see.
I first read 'All Quiet on the Western Front' as a high school sophomore. At that time, the story's affect upon me was minimal at best. I take the shift in my opinion of this novel as proof that you should revisit all the books you had to read in high school that you found boring. At age sixteen, I had very little idea of how elements of fiction like prose, pacing, characterization, and others worked together to create a great work of fiction. By that age, I was already a veteran of the horror genre and had read about a lot of gruesome things, so some of the things in 'All Quiet on the Western Front' struck me as almost tame by comparison. Still, certain images from the novel have stuck with me over the years, some of them for obvious reasons--like the image of a young soldier taking cover in a bomb crater underneath a coffin--and others for not-so-obvious reasons--like the yellow boots that pass from soldier to soldier.
With twelve years of life experience and a better understanding of the craft of fiction under my belt, my opinion of this novel is now the polar opposite of what it was as a teenager. Remark's prose is clear, simple, and highly evocative. He has an eye for choosing the right details to bring a scene to life. Likewise, the pensive but resigned voice he creates for the novel's protagonist adds to the terribleness of the events by making the reader wonder: "How can a man become resigned to such things?" The novel's pace, which seemed slow to me as a teenager, now seems to fit the novel perfectly, as does the seeming lack of a strict plot. Both convey the passivity of the protagonist as he is pulled from one event to another. Lastly, but maybe most importantly, the sense of despair that Remark creates throughout the last two or three chapters of the novel is so strong and so real that I found it difficult to read those sections. I find that fact to be a testament to Remark's skill in delivering this particular narrative, as well as a mark of authenticity.
As for the narrator: I have been a fan of Frank Muller's narration ever since listening to his rendering of the second installment in King's Dark Tower sequence. Muller conveys perfectly each emotion and mood in the novel, whether it be pensiveness, despair, resignation, or even the few instances of happiness that occur.
This audiobook definitely gets five stars in all categories. I won't say that everybody will enjoy it, but I will say that I think it is well worth at very least one read, if not many more.
This is the second sci-fi/noir mash-up I've read in the last year or so. The other, 'Necropolis' by Michael Dempsey, left me extremely disappointed. I was hoping for more from 'Empire State'; granted, my hopes were based entirely upon the book's synopsis and a few vague favorable reviews.
Unfortunately, after finishing Adam Christopher's debut novel, I find myself disappointed again. I am a fan of both super hero comics and novels, as well as noir novels. Naturally, I thought a novel that brought the two of them together could be very good. However, Christopher's novel reads more like a poorly constructed noir pastiche than an actual noir novel. Also, there is a disproportionately small amount of direct super hero involvement for a novel billed as a "stunning superhero-noir fantasy". There seems not to be a single round character, and the reasons behind the actions of many characters in the novel remain unclear even at its close. Indeed, the protagonist of the novel seemed rather muddled and dim to fit the role of private detective. Also, the prose was very lackluster and could have benefited from some serious editorial guidance. The dialogue was especially canned and corny.
I don't want this review to be a complete trash-fest, so I want to mention that I give Christopher points for concept, and for allowing fans to create further stories within the world of 'Empire State' through Creative Commons. However, neither of those things are enough to make up for the poor execution of the novel itself.
Christopher has another novel out--'Seven Wonders'--and a sequel to Empire State--'The Age Atomic'--is scheduled for release sometime this year. I am not entirely opposed to checking out one or both of these novels, but I will certainly be entering into the act of reading them with much lower expectations than I held for 'Empire State'.
As far as the novel's narration, I had no great complaints about it, other than the fact that Gigante's renditions of female voices are all delivered in an uninspired and rather annoying falsetto.
All of that said, others may be able to overlook things in this audiobook that I disliked, but I wouldn't recommend it very highly.
While the title of this review might seem like a dig, I actually did like "Hero". I applaud the novel for its candor on the subject of being a gay male teen. Though there have been a few instances of gay super heros, the super hero genre (both in comic books and novels) has largely avoided the subject of homosexuality, which is strange for a genre that embraces "gritty realism", or whatever phrase the DC fanboys are using to describe the current incarnation of the DCU.
My problems with the novel are this:
While I love a little silver age pastiche as much as the next comic geek, there is too much of it in this novel. Most of the supporting characters are obvious takes on existing super heros, hence Warrior Woman (almost no variation from Wonder Woman at all), Golden Boy (an a**hole version of Kid Flash), Uberman (a hollwo, brainless take on Superman), and Justice (who comes equipped with an origin story pretty much identical to Superman's). All the pastiche makes it seem a bit like Perry Moore decided to take the easy route in evoking images of a silver age version of New York, as opposed to engaging in the practice of world-building that is so integral to fantasy novels (which super hero novels technically are). However, I must admit that I enjoyed the little touches that related the world of the novel to our modern day world. I think they were very much necessary to make the story relevant to the audience of young adult readers the novel is aimed toward.
Second criticism: not enough backstory on Goron. If he's supposed to be the love interest in the novel, shouldn't we have seen a bit more of him, and learned a bit more about why he is who he is? I feel like way too much of the book was devoted to perpetuating the ridiculously obvious (***SPOILER ALERT***) "secret" that Goron and Dark Hero were one and the same. It was a big misuse of what should have been a much more important character.
Mostly, what was offputting about the novel was the prose, which could have been described as "atrocious" at times, and "sufficient" at other times, but never "great" or "engaging". I'm a bit of a word nerd and I feel like the words being used to tell a story are always as important as the story itself, if not more important. Novels aren't movies; you can't have Michael Bay come in, do a bunch of crane shots, blow some sh*t up, and expect people to love it. It takes hard work, and I feel like Moore should have worked harder on refining his prose.
Complaints noted, I did like the novel and I'd be willing to give its rumored sequel(s) a try.
I don't think so.
Yes, but not in a good way.
Recipe for 'Necropolis'
1. Shamelessly take body parts from other people's creations: Raymond Chandler (Marlow); William Gibson (Neuromancer); F. Scott Fitzgerald (Benjamin Button); Ian Flemming (Bond); et al.
2. Stitch all the parts together to make your patchwork man.
3. Remove all the man's guts: substance; subtlety;driving dialogue; character depth; and anything else found in good writing.
4. Replace the old guts with new guts: excessive melodrama; tons of cheesey, wasted dialogue; overly wordy, poorly descriptive prose; a large amount of feau philosophical rambling; and as much hackneyed B-movie garbage as you can find.
5. Pump that sucker full of electricity until he wakes up and starts living something that only vaguely resembles life.
6. Teach him to speak entirely in cliches that make people's eyes roll, but make sure he's aware of each cliche and explicitly apologizes for it.
7. Now listen to him ramble for 3-4 hours (50-100 pages) longer than you really need to.
8. You've created your very own 'Necropolis.'
That about says it all in a nutshell. The concept screams potential, but the execution left me begging for mercy. I only finished it because I pride myself on almost never abandoning a book, even if it's terrible, you can at least learn what you shouldn't do in your own writing. I can say one thing for 'Necropolis'; it was less painful to finish than Scott Smith's 'The Ruins.'
If you're interested in a more in-depth ellaboration of the book.
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