Minnesota, USA | Member Since 2012
I was excited to see that Tad Williams had started a new series. I am a big Williams fan, having enjoyed all of his other books. For those who haven't yet done so, I recommend reading or listening to his Otherland series. I would also recommend any of his fantasy books. The problem with The Dirty Streets of Heaven was that it wasn't near the quality of the other Williams offerings.
Had I not seen his name on the book, I never would have guessed that this book was written by Tad Williams. I would have thought it was a collaboration effort between Jim Butcher (the Dresden Files series) and Richard Kadrey (the Sandman Slim series). Bobby Dollar, it seemed to me, must be closely related to Harry Dresden. Dollar also inherited Dresden's sassy and (oftentimes but not always) endearing sense of humor. Maybe it's because I just got done listening to the (delightful) Dresden series, but I kept finding myself thinking I was listening to another Dresden book.
While the protagonist, earthy angel Bobby Dollar, is far less foul mouthed and depressed than Kadrey's (oftentimes but not always) likable Sandman Slim, he does have the same love/hate relationship with his otherworldly overlords (in Slim's case, the devil, and in Dollar's case, the angels). Dresden and Sandman are both series that took an original idea and ran with it. I hate to say it, but in my mind's eye I kept seeing Tad Williams talking to his editor about what kind of series he should write next. Anyone in the industry couldn't help but notice how successful this whole genre of books (the vampire, zombie, wizard, hellion themed books with a hip, loveable, very capable but self-denigrating anti-hero) has become. I kept wondering, as perhaps Tad Williams did while developing this character, "What would Harry Dresden do - WWHDD'? Where would Harry go? Or, what would a Harry Dresden-type character (who is a well intended, golden-hearted, anti-establishment earthbound angel) do if he had essentially the same personality as Harry Dresden but wasn't a wizard but rather an angel. Well, maybe it didn't happen that way at all. Maybe he didn't talk it over with his publisher at all.
What did Williams do well in this book? I was very impressed with his well considered presentation of the afterlife, and many of the salvation issues involved. His presentation of heaven actually made me excited to experience the afterlife. He deftly and successfully navigated around a lot of thorny theological considerations in a way that should offend few of any faith. In other words, as he does so well, Williams has created a consistent and believable imaginary world. What I found sadly lacking was the story itself and the characters. I expected better characters and character development from Williams. Other than Bobby Dollar and his (evil but virtuous, treacherous but warm-hearted, loyal but untrustworthy devil babe) girlfriend, the Countess of Cold Hands, I found the characters flat and not very likeable. I found the chase scenes and battle scenes with the "spawn of hell, creature, monster character" chasing and fighting with Dollar and his posse agonizingly frequent, predictable and boring. And the monster kept coming and Bobby kept escaping... again and again and again.
There are other shortcomings as well, but I don't want to whip a dead horse.
If I had never read Williams' other books, I wouldn't have expected as much as I did going into this one. Would I recommend it? I don't know. Will I read the next Bobby Dollar book? Probably, because I'm willing to try anything Tad Williams writes. Even when he lays a relative egg, he is a good enough writer that I'm willing to slog through it. At least this time.
I thought that the narrator, Dick Hill, did a yeoman's job. It was a good, but not in any way exceptional Hill performance.
This was the worst book I've ever listened to, and I listen to a lot of books. I couldn't believe that one (too long) story could keep taking so many unlikely, implausible and unbelievable (as in not-believable) twists and turns.
The characters were flat, childish and universally unlikable. Their relationships with one another were schizophrenic and ludicrous. The Catholic nun angle and her relationship with the pope were both painfully stupid, the father -son relationship was trite and stereotypical.
Finally, these people just wouldn't die!!! The two protagonists (the on again-off again nun/earth mother and the good guy/evil archeologist) survived end-of-the world type explosions, biblical level floods and continental ruptures, only to keep running into one another between apocalyptic disasters in which everyone but these two was killed. I kept hoping they would have mercy on us all and die.
I don't think I could find one reason to recommend wasting time or money on this book, and the only saving grace is that I bought it at a discounted price. This mutt should never have survived the high-school writing class teacher's red pen. I feel sorry Scott Brick, one of the better readers at Audible, who must have gagged his way through the reading of this one. He deserves three stars for effort - for his valiant attempts to make a silk purse out of this sow's ear.
I don't understand why there is so much terrible reaction to King's reading of The Wind Through The Keyhole. I really liked the book, and am a big fan of the series. Maybe it's just me, but I really like to listen to Stephen King read his books, and I think his reading of this was very good. I love George Guidell's work too, by the way. Anyway, that's my humble opinion. I sincerely hope that there are many more returns to The Dark Tower series!
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