I will leave the problems with character development to other reviewers. The book reads like a first draft, cynically published in this unpolished form with badly conceived main characters (the twins) to sell to the huge YA market.
The writer could not bother to keep track of his own writing. Redundant vocabulary is common. He uses the word "countless" several times in a short passage, his favorite lazy word for great quantity. He often employs "countless" for things readily counted (the number of gargoyles on Notre Dame, for example).
Even a magical otherworld must have some internal logic, but the author has lazy inconsistencies. Such as the description of Yggdrassil, when we are first introduced to the world tree, compared to what happens to it later, indicating an absurd change in size.
I hope the author uses a thesaurus, and a good editor, in the future.
China Meiville has created an urban nightmare that feels hopelessly real and peopled it with corruption, compassion and humanity. Gorgeous writing. The city is the vastest character in the book, and that's saying something in this book with people who still haunt me years after I read it. Since the novel I love is so drippingly rich in description I wondered if it could work as an audiobook. Thank you, John Lee! There are few novels I read twice, but I have both read and listened to Perdido Street Station twice. That's four swampy excursions into the fetid, amazing neighborhoods of New Crobuzon.
One of the main characters is a brilliant scientist who has done expeditions in his wheelchair, who has full use of his arms and a very strong grip, all noted in the prose. So why does he suddenly need another character to push him around? This and other nonsense about wheelchair use was annoying. A little bit of research, a few chats with folks who use wheelchairs, and maybe the authors would not be so clueless. Sadly, too few readers will even notice the ableist cliches ("wheelchair-bound", "iron prison", etc.) or the unexamined assumptions that underlie them.
The story itself is pretty silly, but a competent monster tale, good fluff as a soundtrack to chores. The reader, David Colacci, is reliable. Like a good mechanic, he knows his trade, cares enough to research pronunciation of uncommon and technical terms.
Graham Hancock is lost in fantastical archeology. Everywhere he sees so-called evidence for his cherished hypotheses, and he blatantly ignores or creatively "explains" away whatever disconfirms his notions. The most voluble in a long line of earnest folks who forget that knowledge is assured only by ruthlessly testing your theories against the world, Hancock seems unable to reasonably weigh his evidence. I have only heard a little, and read a little of the text also. I will take honest archeology over breathless speculations about Atlantis and the Sphinx. Hancock is not repressed by some cabal of academics, he simply ignores the standards of scholarship. He is very successful bringing his fancies to the masses via cable TV, and so has far more fans than the archeology journals. He is an entertaining, competent writer, alas, and has duped many, including himself.
Like rubbernecking at a wreck, it was wierdly fascinating to listen to Zell Miller. Tragedy wound so tight that I couldn't even laugh much at the craziness. I find both the big party conventions to be unsurprising infomercials, so Zell was a breath of fresh, ozone-scented air. In a creepy kind of way. He probably will never challenge me to a duel, though (reference to his later interview with Chris Matthews) because he is a gentleman and I am a lady.
With an adequate abridgement, this is still, maybe more, interesting a book since recent heightened awareness of plagues and bioweapons, and it is fun to compare the older technology and speculation with today's knowledge and seen how ideas have changed and not changed. I read the book decades ago, so I do not recall if Crichton had one of his typical lame lovestory subplots in Andromeda Strain, but I am glad this audiobook did not. Crichton is notorious, in my mind, for wooden, thinly realized characters and dumb loveplots; I never care who dies in one of his books, and that may be part of the popularity. There is no emotional investment in reading Crichton, but, if you are lucky, you will be stimulated to do some intellectual speculation, which IS emotionally rich and is sparked by the ideas Crichton uses as springboards to weave his tales.
Chris Noth is a solid reader, but was there no one in the recording session to stop him when he made egregious faux pas like his mispronunciation of simple words like "epithelial" and "hematocrit"? How little must Chris himself read (and how little retained from 10th grade biology) to not have known these words? When you come across a word you do not know, look it up. Just like your grammar school teacher told you.
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