I really enjoyed this one. The writing is excellent--well crafted prose, well researched story. The narration suits the book superbly. The story is a historical account of a child murder in a Victorian family and the detective, Mr. Whicher, who investigated the crime. It's not written like a novel; instead, the author uses primary sources such as newspaper articles, court reports/records, and personal journals to flesh out the story. I unreservedly recommend this to anyone who likes social history and is interested in the early days of Scotland Yard.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the story was not just gripping, but actually fairly thought provoking. The author makes some interesting observations about our culture's fascination with reality TV/celebrity, as well as some pointed (and, I thought, quite political!) commentary about greed, power, exploitation and oppression. The young female protagonist is refreshingly intelligent and independent. The Hunger Games doesn't have the most subtle story or writing style, but it's interesting and fast-paced, and the narrator does a decent job (though I had to suspend disbelief because to me, her adult voice doesn't match the first-person "voice" of the teenager in the book).
I am not really a fan of vampire/werewolf stories, but I listened to this on recommendation of a friend who had read it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story was very light and fluffy, but I liked the characters and thought the relationship between the two main characters was believable. I am sure some of the details of Victorian England and the word choice and usage are a little inaccurate, but COME ON, it has vampires and werewolves in it. That probably isn't accurate either.
One of the best things about this audiobook version is the excellent narrator. She did a good job of using a different voice for different characters without overdoing it--tough to do when one character is supposed to have a Scottish accent, no less.
You shouldn't go into this expecting a meaty work of literature, but if you want to be entertained and you like Regency fiction (yes, I know this is not Regency era, it's Victorian, but it had a Georgette Heyer feel), then you might like this--as long as you don't mind suspending your disbelief regarding werewolves and vampires.
I found the story slow at the beginning, but it really picked up after several chapters and was worth sticking with. The two narrators do a good job of portraying Annie and her uncle, Will. There's a lot to think about in this novel: the traditional vs. the modern; the city vs. the wilderness; solitude vs. community and friendship; aboriginal vs. non-aboriginal culture. It's an entertaining but meaty listen/read.
I enjoyed listening to Neil Gaiman read his own novel. Sometimes having the author narrate his or her own work is the kiss of death for a book, but Mr. Gaiman is a lively and talented reader. This book is aimed at a slightly younger audience (although it is surprisingly morbid in parts) so it's not a particularly complex story, but it is well-paced, with an interesting overall concept (orphaned mortal child is raised by spirits in a graveyard). I'd recommend it for anyone who isn't too easily put off by mildly gory/scary bits and is looking for an entertaining, quick listen.
The premise of this book looked intriguing--it's based on the true story of a gruesome murder in 19th century Manhattan. I was hoping it would be like Edith Wharton meets Law and Order, I guess. However, despite my anticipation, I never really did get into this book. It was just a touch too slow, and I found myself drifting off and thinking about other things while waiting for the story to pick up. I just did not find the characters compelling or well fleshed out; it was like the author was always keeping us at a distance from them and we were looking at tiny figures from far away, trying to figure out what they were up to. The exception was the lawyer, who was the only lively-ish character in the bunch. The other problem I had was with the narrator; he's a bit too breathless and dramatic for my taste. I have now learned my lesson: always listen to the preview clip. As an alternative to this book, I'd recommend Kate Summerhill's The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher; I thought the writing and narration were much, much better.
It's hard to write much without giving away some important plot points. However, I will say that this book really drew me in with the narrator's first-person description of her days at an exclusive boarding school. There's a lot here that is similar to any tale of British boarding school days, but there are certainly some important differences.
Thematically, the novel examines some interesting and thorny ethical issues. The writing is beautiful, although some might find the pacing a bit slow. I thought it worked well given that the narrator is piecing together old memories and in some ways just reminiscing and indulging in nostalgia.
The reader, Emilia Fox, had a lovely voice. She does a great job as Kathy.
I'd recommend this to anyone who liked The Remains of the Day (by the same author) or anyone who likes slow, meditative, literary writing.
Very well-written and engaging narrative; I enjoyed the characters and the storyline. I would encourage readers/listeners to check out Oryx and Crake, Atwood's previous outing with these characters, first; Atwood has said that this is not the sequel to that novel, but rather takes place along a parallel timeline. This is true, but I still think it's best to read Oryx and Crake first.
This novel really made me think about the state of our current social and environmental problems. Atwood is a bit scary in her prescience, actually.
As a side note, I loved the publisher's choice to include performances of the hymns in the text version. They were spot-on.
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