I didn't want to stop listening to this book, because I wanted to find out what happened. I became intensely involved in the lives of the characters, and felt like I learned new aspects of World War II as well.
This book takes us to two faraway planets that are richly described with carefully crafted cultures, and that is the best part of the book. Once the humans figure out what the aliens are atoning for, the book changes focus to the fallout of that realization back on Earth. That half of the book seemed to be building toward a major event that never happened. I thought that maybe the end was contrived to enable a sequel, but there is none.
Octavia Butler was such an amazing author, with several series of works that explored elements of race, sexuality, and technology. This book—sadly, her last—was clearly meant to be the start of a new series, as the ending is not completely resolved. Instead of using aliens as proxies for various aspects of humanity as she'd done before, Butler chose to populate this book with vampires who live among humans in bisexual polyamorous communes. Those aspects of the book are certainly provocative, but the true theme centers on genetic engineering, and the prejudice that the main character endures as a result of being made "different." Had Butler been able to write a sequel, I definitely would have wanted to read it.
Though the publisher's summary suggests that this book is about aliens, the true focus is on humans—specifically, the trans-humans who have cloned themselves and altered DNA for their own purposes, some of which are nefarious. (possible spoilers ahead) The main character, Lilo, is cloned repeatedly and against her will, so that she is forced to exist in many places at once. Time travel is also involved, so things do get very complex. But I found myself rooting for Lilo, and caring about what what happened to her.
It's my understanding that this book may be made into a movie. If so, it won't require much editing to turn it from a book into a script. The plot is predictable, as some other reviewers have said, but if it came out as an action movie, I would definitely go see it.
...Then you'll probably like this. It's a retelling of three surviving stories from Old Norse texts. Some of the characters from the show are there as viewers would know them; Others take different forms from story to story, but all have fates intertwined with Ragnar and his children. The seeds of the television show are definitely here, and Ragnar is no less enigmatic and entertaining than he is on television.
I'm torn between thinking that this book is too short or too long. There are some really interesting scientific analyses of effective communication, including a good bit about the comedian Russell Brand and what makes him so compelling as a speaker. There are also some very specific tips on how to speak properly, including effective breathing techniques and proper use of vocal cords. But at 3 hrs and 35 min, the author can't go too deeply into any of the psychology, sociology, and philosophy that underpins his advice. I would almost rather just have the tips with no exposition at all, or lots more exposition. Still, there's good information here, especially if you're looking for a fast "read."
Many of us Audible listeners are multi-taskers, right? Ever had one of those moments where an audiobook is so intensely interesting that you cannot multitask, but have to just sit and listen? This is one of those books.
I'm a science writer (non-fiction) and have been writing about physics for 20 years. I can say with confidence that this book attempts something extremely ambitious—and pulls it off. I can't imagine explaining quantum mechanics this thoroughly and this entertainingly, but Walton does it. It's the classic "scientists-take-things-too-far" theme found in Frankenstein and so much sci-fi since, but here the dangers come from contact with parallel universes.
Whether you have a background in science or not, this is a thrilling murder mystery, and I highly recommend it.
This enthralling book mixes steampunk tech (zeppelins, pneumatic tubes, etc.) and spy intrigue with vampires, werewolves, fairies, and even dragons. And somehow it all works! I didn't want to stop listening, and am very much looking forward to future installments. The narrator has a lovely British accent but spoke a little slowly for my taste, so I ran the story at 1.25x speed. Perfect!
Because this book is set only 50 years in the future (2065), it doesn't offer a strong feeling of escape and otherworldliness, as science fiction might. Rather, we are trapped in a realistic near future in which the effects of climate change are starting to be felt, and the lines between governments and corporations are blurred. So it's not a particularly easy listen, nor is it particularly up-lifting.
There was one aspect to the story that I found fascinating, however, and that was the discussion of "green" architecture--how architecture had to change because of the warming climate. One of the main characters is an architect, and there's much discussion of the mechanics of tearing down 20th-Century buildings and re-making them.
As to the narrator, I sometimes had a hard time telling the different characters apart. It was also hard to tell when the point of view shifted between different characters, so perhaps this book would be more easily digested in print.
...But not necessarily answers. The strength of this book is that it makes you think differently about your relationship with food in general. If you want specific instructions on what to eat and what to do differently, you have to join one of the author's eating programs, for instance her "Rapid Refresh and Reboot" program—which currently costs $97. Still, I didn't feel like the book was just a "hard sell" for her other services. Her overall message is that we should seek balance in our lives and be happy—what could be bad about that? The author is extremely open about her own life and the lives of people she has helped, and ultimately the book is truly uplifting. For a companion book, I would recommend "Women, Food, and God" by Geneen Roth.
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