This book is apparently catnip for a certain type of book geek. I enjoyed the first few hours as quirky and novel, then gradually lost interest until giving up at hour 10. While I tend to read plot driven page-turners, I appreciate good writing and occasionally read “literature.” I wanted to like this book, but the lack of plot and glacial pacing wore me out. I just didn’t appreciate the intimate character studies and wry social commentary enough to make it worth my while. I like to listen to audiobooks before bedtime, and this one often put me to sleep in 10 to 15 minutes. In this round of man vs. book, book won!
I am working on a set of book characteristics to cover in my reviews. Qualities that I would like to know before choosing a book. My sweet spot is fairly light fiction (often fantasy) with above average writing and characters. I hope you find these useful. I didn't go into depth on them here because this book has already been heavily reviewed.
Mostly neutral, sometimes dark, brooding atmosphere, sometimes comic.
High craftsmanship, obviously skilled writer.
Very slow; detailed conversations and descriptions.
Very little plot, meandering story lines.
Lots of varied characters. Main character (Mr. Norrell) for first third of book is dull and unlikable. Most characters are not very dynamic.
Sex & Violence:
Very little through first third of book.
Does a good job with difficult material. Enjoyed him much more in “The Coral Thief.”
I so enjoyed this book, I listened to it 3 times. It is a very human, down to earth, golden-rule type approach to business and life. Derek shows you can put heart and fun into business.
The leading user review compares this book to the Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern). This is grossly unfair to the Night Circus. Penumbra has enough ideas for a really good short story. The characters are mostly interesting types, although fairly static and undeveloped. The lead character is boring, and the most interesting character, Penumbra, is not "on stage" nearly enough. I would compare this more to a watered down "14" (Peter Clines) which was much more interesting. I found that even at the most climactic parts of the book, I really didn't care that much. I finished the book mainly because it was only about 8 hours long. The Night Circus, on the Other hand, is about 100x more dense with ideas, imagination, character development, and dramatic tension. All that is not to say this book is bad; it is good enough that I think it could have been better. If you want a hip, fun, modern, weird mystery book, try 14 instead.
My wife and I have listened to this series, and mostly like it. This book is clearly setting the stage for the last book and grand finale. For God's sake don't get this audiobook if you are not into the series, it is not very good. Michael Scott has really under-performed, producing just enough of the lightweight, cheesy action - fantasy we like. After this series is ended I won't start another by him.
This book is well written, and well narrated, but I found it depressing. The bad guy brakes the mind and soul of his female companion through systematic abuse. I was expecting something lighter.
Your most boring professor writes a book. After listening for two hours, I learned that innovative thinkers apply past knowledge to new situations, and it is easier to stop a bad habit by replacing it with another behavior. Another book that would be better as a five minute TED video.
This book is really quite entertaining - although the non-stop action can get to manic levels. However, the description of the book doesn't convey how violent it is. While the worst stuff (like systematic torture) happens "off-screen," there are some thoughts and images I dont care to have in my mind. If the violence was toned down, I would be referring this book to more friends.
I like sci-fi and fantasy, and can accept the initial premise that a town in modern day West Virginia has been mysteriously sent back to 1632 Germany. That is the cool part of the story. The problem is with the characters - they are mostly caricatures. And while that is fine for many entertaining novels with heavy action, this book, after the opening sequences, spends a lot of time on character "development." If you can call following the thoughts and dialogue of stock characters "development." Chunks of the book read like a romance novel, with breathless, love-at-first-site encounters and courtship. The Americans, almost without exception, are an amazingly virtuous lot, that embody the best American principals - hard work, self reliance, inclusion, democracy, tolerance, practicality, fairness, ingenuity - without fail. This is in stark contrast to the bad guys - who are truly vile. The narrator, George Guidall, is so good, that he can make this pulp seem to have substance. Yet Guidall can only cover for the author for so long. Eventually, you notice that your velveeta topped cheeseburger is missing the meat, and you only have a mouthful of cheese.
If you liked The Name of the Wind (Book 1), you should like this one also. The style, characters, and themes are very similar. For me, the book drags at times with Kvolth's obsession with Dena, and his generally high level of suffering. The whole story could move faster. Sometimes Rothfuss spends to much ink being clever - something which frequently gets Kvolth in trouble. Yet the characters are enjoyable enough to bring me back; and I wonder, what trouble will he get in next? Also, I have really grown to like the narrator. Although some minor characters are voiced in a silly, cartoonish way, the main characters are all well done.
I enjoyed reading Neuromancer as a twenty year old when it first came out. I didn't know if I would still enjoy it twenty years down the road. Well, it's still love! It's obvious to me now that this is noir. it has more in common with The Maltese Falcon than with most sci-fi. It is just the right blend of melodrama, action, mystery, and campiness. I also really like the setting. Having grown up in the 80s, it makes sense to me. I dont know what it would seem like to a current twenty year old.
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