I liked the characters, I liked the setting, I liked the narrator. I just wished the story had some meat to it. Instead of a taught, historical plot, the story line bobs and weaves around manners and religious etiquette and never really gets to any climax, any character development, or any great revelations.
The attempted plot twists at the end are clumsy and unrewarding.
Maybe it's me, because I really enjoyed it. Ken Jennings is a clever and witty dude whose mildly sarcastic observations on mildly kooky folks comes off as lovable rather than snarky. This is definitely a niche topic, but even if your interest in maps and geography isn't keen, the humorous prose and spot-on narration make it a good use of your time.
If you've read part 1, then get ready to have very little of the characters you've grown attached to. A new plot line involving the Pope, a deranged priest, and Vatican shenanigans dominates this rather ill-paced sequel. Since I've already spent this much time on it, I'm somewhat obliged to listen to part 3, which I'm hoping has a bit more oomph to it.
Great narration, and great subject matter. The plot rolls along slowly, more in the tradition of an Agatha Christie parlor mystery than a taut thriller. Basically, if "Name of the Rose" and "Father Dowling" had a kid, this would be it.
This was a spectacularly clever story with a nearly flawless pace. The kind of pace I've always wanted Stephen King to have. The reader did an incredible job, especially since the story revolved around a tight ensemble cast. His voices and subtle nuances were spot on.
I don't think the narrator did the slow-paced story any favors with his dry, unaffected reading.
I have no beef with Dawkins' argument for atheism. What bothered me about this book was its dry, sluggish prose, its incessant reference to other works, and its two-reader narration which acted to distract rather than to enliven. Having recently listened to Hitchens' "God is Not Great," which is witty, pithy, and elegantly written, Dawkins' work seemed so dead and uninteresting. Where Hitchens can denigrate his opponents with withering logic wrapped in literary genius, Dawkins' attacks seem petty and rigid. He spends too much time worrying that he'll offend, then dives right in to some petty attacks.
Basically, this is a scientist's book about belief and non-belief. It lacks the culture and personality that many other books on the subject have in spades. Also, one good narrator would have done just fine, instead of Dawkins and a female narrator splitting the duties...poorly.
I'm still not quite sure what I think about this book. It was challenging, creative, and unusual. I'm just not sure if I really liked it when all was said and done. The performance was great, and the story's pace was good and rapid. Maybe I wasn't all that gratified by the ending, or by the rather minor revelations exposed at the end of what was a pretty big buildup.
As a first book in a series, The Mongoliad packs in quite a lot, while still just hinting at the story ahead. Multiple plot lines probably suited the multiple authors and, luckily, makes for some good reading. The plot, however, isn't very inventive or even creative so far. The whole enterprise feels like a rehash of so many historical or fantasy novels already on the bookstore shelves. If not for the amazing talents of the authors in their other pursuits I probably would never have picked this up, but may very well continue listening to each book in the series. I would say the one creative and somewhat unique twist this book has is to tell the story from both the "good guys'" and the "bad guys'" points of view, which also makes those labels rather relative.
Another good outing from Connelly. Fairly engrossing. Two cases running simultaneously plus a love interest plus family issues plus political wrangling seems like a bit to shoehorn into one story though. My only reservation is that the while previous Bosch cases seemed down and dirty and more procedural, this one is starting to creep into Stephen J Cannell territory with its overboard Hollywood plot lines and overall sensationalism.
This is a stereotypical espionage thriller wrapped with about 50 layers of fascinating detail. The reader comes away with an incredible knowledge of international flight plans, militia groups, border politics, role playing games, African genocide, Canadian weed smuggling, and a host of other more arcane topics. I doubt that most thriller readers actually want that much detail. Those who read Neal Stephenson novels regularly come to expect it, so it won't be a shock. It's a good story, with great characters, that every now and then gets bogged down in the minutiae.
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