We The Living is an amazing and well written story. It feels like a cross between a dramatic narrative and a history textbook. While the character interactions and events in their lives are incredibly personal and dramatic, the way that Ayn Rand describes those characters and events along with a plethora of background information makes the story seem like a drawn out newspaper article trying to give all the information possible. I really liked the story because it gave a peasant's view of early communist Russia. It was descriptive to a fault and the social commentary is classicly blunt. A must read/listen for fans of historical social commentaries.
Brave New World is imaginative since it was written before WWII and is very accurate in predicting technologies that would come after it. The novel is lacking in a dramatic story. It is great as commentary and speculation of possible dystopian or utopian ideals. Even with everything that happens to all of the characters, none of them seem fleshed out and the story constantly jumps between them to illustrate different societal issues. If you like philosophical books this story is a classic and a must listen. Like in the society that is described, the characters are small pieces in the over arching ideal of describing the setting. If you don't mind that, then this book is well worth reading.
This book is quintessentially Ayn Rand. The characters are created for and the story moved forward by long conversation and monologue pieces. It is a story not about specific characters, but about the entirety of mankind. What begins as an interesting drama about very different people dealing with the social and professional norms of their times, almost imperceptibly slowly becomes a commentary on society as a whole. The major characters that start the story as individual personalities morph into full fledged philosophers, no matter what their original proclivities. The ideas expressed by the author are very thought provoking and the book captivates the attention. If you like Ayn Rand's style of writing or social commentary cloaked in an enjoyable narrative, this will satisfy. This book might have a ficitional story, but that is not the point of it and it won't be the thing one will remember after listening to it.
The Divine Comedy is a masterpiece of imagination. I loved picking up pieces of the story from researching it on my own and I thought listening to the entire thing would finally allow me to get to know the whole story. Sadly, this book does not really lend itself to be listened to. Unless you are a learned scholar of early Renaissance Italian society, this book will make no sense. The portrayal of the hell, purgatory, and heaven is quite vivid and well done, but the narrative is tied to the souls that Dante meets along the way. Dante uses his story to criticize the people that were living in his time I found it nearly impossible to follow the story as he meets with and discusses the sins and salvation of Italian notables from 7 centuries ago. I will still try to read this book someday, but I will find a hard copy with footnotes and keep a good encyclopedic website handy while I read it. This was written before audio recording was conceived and does not do well in this medium.
Naked starts off wonderfully, but plateau's hard as the story progresses. The hardcore romance is very well written and the sex scenes are enticing. The overall story however is lacking. The first person train of thought narrative is witty and engaging. I loved Olivia's internal monologues. The other characters, including Alex, seem to be glossovers. Too stereotypical to be real and not really resolved. Too many people and plots are introduced and not really developed thoroughly almost as if they are there only to show that Olivia doesn't live in a bubble. This book is a good straightforward romance novel, but if you're looking for a riveting and engaging story, this is not it.
The entire plot of the story takes a far backseat to the descriptions of food and history lessons that the book provides. It was entertaining, but I never felt engaged to the characters' plights or cares. It was an enjoyable listen, but seemed short. The plot's are all tied up simply, with one exception, nary a twist thrown in. If you want a book that'll make you crave for an authetic Chinese restaurant or just dinner, then this is a wonderful story. If you want a book with a deep and interesting plot, then this won't be a good choice.
Franzen's novel is character centric. The setting that he puts them in is very intricate and well researched, but it is the development of the characters that takes center stage. They are both simple and complicated. The choices, action, and interpersonal interactions can seem trivial or over-the-top at times, but the experience is very well weaved. I would recommend this book to anybody who wants a decent plot held together by strong characters.
Foot's conclusion of the Civil War is good, but the weakest of the three volumes. He does well to lay out of the facts at the end of the war, but this volume reads more like a textbook than the story that his other two volumes were building on. The end is particularly rushed. If you have listened to the other volumes, then this is a natural continuation, but if you have not, there are many better sources to learn about the end of the war than this book.
This second book in this series is more focused on the actions of the armies because during this time, there were more battles fought. Those who hate the Confederacy will find this volume hard to swallow because there is no condemnation of their ideals that follow their battle successes. It is a very good continuation of Foote's efforts in his first volume and the development of the leading general's personalities is done particularly well. The historical accuracy of some of Foote's sources has come into question recently, but as a historical narrative, it is very enticing.
While this book gives all of the requisite dates and battle movements of armies, which can be a little hard to follow without the maps and apendixes a book like this is sure to come with, it's narrative styles makes learning the civil war a delight. This book delves deeply into the beginnings of the civil war and shows the characters of the people behind the start of the war fairly. People easily take sides when it comes to civil war, but this book gives a relatively unbiased view of what the author believies happened that led to the war. A very long, but rewarding listen.
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