I like a lot of these authors, but overall these short stories are not very satisfying. I found most of them a bit "pat" and tidy - not complicated enough to be very interesting.
It's a ridiculous plot written so that it is amusing and the reader just accepts, "Sure - it's a minotaur who just, y'know, has to go through regular high school life being gigantic with horns." It's a little bit about the way narrative arcs tend to follow patterns; a little bit about personal agency; a little bit more than pretty good. It's got a bit of a pat ending, but there are worse things.
It's not just Pratchetty because there is an anthropomorphized death, but because it is also an amusing and engaging and absurd satire of human behavior. I'm not giving anything else away - but I've been a little disappointed with the long earth books, as they are so not like the discworld books, and I wish there was more Buckley on Audible, because it seems a promising way to fill the void of funny, smart satires.
I really enjoyed this book - John Scalzi is a funny writer; Wil Wheaton is a great narrator. HOWEVER, the first half an hour or so is unbelievably stilted when read aloud. It's a lot of "he said," then "she said," then "he said" ad nauseum. I think when reading print, my eyes skip over those things and it's not a big problem. In audio, it's as if it's all I could hear. The first part, consequently, is irritating and confusing. Past that, it's a well written story that is ultimately about choices and consequences - thought I didn't realize it for awhile, because it is also very light and funny.
When I started this series, I liked that Chess is an unconventional heroine - I appreciated that with every action, she was also overcoming a gnawing self-doubt and loathing, that she was darker and more complicated than most heroines I have come across in the genre. I understand that in reality, a person with her background and problems would be haunted with self-doubt and recriminations. In writing, though, the mantra of "I don't deserve this, so I'll ruin it," has gotten a bit old. It seems to be even more prevalent in this volume than in previous ones - again, understandable, but it feels like the character isn't growing. And it sounds whiny. My irritation with Chess is not enough to keep me from listening to the next book, but if she doesn't make a breakthrough, I think I'll give up.
There are a LOT of books about women who happen to stumble on mysteries with a fair few of them having a paranormal twist - This one stands out, because the main character is really, really funny and likeable - she's very Stephanie Plum without being a clear knockoff. I also think that the narrator (who also voices Stephanie) is much better suited to this character. Totally worth the credit.
What's more frustrating, the narrator or the story? The narrator is excellent at caricatures, like your embarrassing great uncle after a few drinks. Her Scottish accent mostly sounds like the Simpsons' Groundskeeper Willie, except when it slips into Lucky Charms Irish. The one gay character lisps and sounds like Big Gay Al on South Park. It is really, really grating. The story has gigantic holes you just have to look past, like the slowness with which news travels in a small Scottish village. A crew of ghost hunters with a camera crew show up in a village, anywhere, and I am certain the entire village will be aware pretty quickly. Deaths start occurring around them, people will immediately know and be suspicious of them. But not in this village. There is an embedded love story, of course. It is painfully cliche. And then there are the little details of the story - things like the narrator's phone working in both the US and UK.
I listen to audiobooks while I walk to work, run errands and do chores - so I go through a lot of them. I generally prefer mysteries and urban fantasy. Without trying, this author should have been able to get at least a 3 star from me, but the terrible accents, the silly plot, the sillier love story and the sloppy details - this is pretty awful.
There are many good things about this book, not the least of which being the lush writing that puts the reader in the middle of a magical circus. Unfortunately, though, the love story is totally unconvincing. The scenes between the lovers read like a portion of Twilight - the characters fall in love before you know it and say really, really painfully hokey things. The characters' motivations are swept into "because they're so totally in love and dedicated to each other," which isn't compelling at all. Still, a good story; a solid 3.
When did Vimes become all-knowing? In many ways, this is classic Pratchett: taking on a serious social issue in an amusing, intelligent and amusing amusing amusing way. However, Vimes has somehow become an uber-cop. Just as Vetinari always knows what's going on and who's doing what, somehow Vimes has become so as well, but really, does the Disc need more than one omniscient being? I liked Vimes originally, because of his humanity, because he was a flawed man trying to do right. In this book, I found him a little cardboard. That being said, it's still Pratchett, so still a great book. And it's not like anything I say would deter a Pratchett fan, anyway. ;)
The new narrator - He's different from James Marsters, of course, but he does a fine job. There is something very suitable about the narration changing after Harry dies, after a book called Changes. The story is different than the usual Dresden story, necessarily, but the character remains consistent. The narrator does a really good job - I particularly like his rendition of Mort. Don't fear change!
A solid 3.5 stars (if that were an option) - There isn't a lot new in this book, but it's entertaining and well read. Like with X-Men, the pivotal question is whether those with super-powers should fight with or against those without. The characters are archetypal - the tough guy/gal with a tender heart, the bad guy who hates weakness, etc - so although they are not as thoroughly fleshed out as one might hope, between the strong narration and the fact that they are familiar, it's not really a problem. Over all, I enjoyed it and recommend it as an easy listen for when you can't think of anything you're really dying to hear.
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