New Orleans, United States Minor Outlying Islands | Member Since 2006
…or “Jurassic Park,” or “Brave New World”…
I’m sure there are plenty of readers who give this book 5 stars because the ideas in the story energized them, and plenty who give it 1 star because they were horrified. I’m giving it 3 stars because I was neither energized nor horrified. The writing was just “meh,” also known as classic Dan Brown – his characters spend a lot of time “recalling when…” or “remembering the first time…” You can almost hear the dream sequence music cue in, and then we’re in for a long, explanatory bit of prose that acts like speed bumps to the plot. He awkwardly hides exposition within dialog and too often follows with a sometimes interesting history lesson on art, on Florence, on Dante Alighieri… but this is supposed to be a race to stop a madman from releasing a deadly plague! Right? I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say our characters have the time for a lesson or two. His show vs. tell skills could do with more exercise. That is, we know his Hero finds the female protagonist attractive because he says she’s “quite attractive.” We know she’s supposed to be very smart because our Hero finds information saying she’s very smart, though, throughout the story, Brown doesn’t have her behave like a very smart person -- she’s clever but not always intelligent. All in all, this is a tepid tale with some awkward contrivances, a strange twist and a flaccid ending, but if you’re interested in the transhumanist movement, Italian Renaissance and art, or Dante Alighieri and his Divine Comedy, then there is plenty in Inferno for you to enjoy.
Without giving too much away, here’s one point Brown doesn’t make in his arguments: Brown’s “mad doctor” character argues that after the black plague Europe enjoyed a renaissance reflected in the art, music and literature of the time, and makes the leap that the one-to-one correlation is related to the decrease in the population. Professor Langdon, our Hero, as an Art History professor, should have made the counter argument that the Renaissance didn’t simply come about because of a decrease in the population, but as a direct result of and an antidote to the suffering during the plague times. In other words, humanity doesn’t need to be mollycoddled by some guy who thinks he knows better than everyone else. Population wise, we’ve made our bed, so to speak, and there may be great suffering in the future, but think of the art and leaps of science we’ll make on the other side of it. Humans are at their best when given a challenge. Brown’s “mad doctor” wants to take that away without even considering that his Brave New World could usher in a malaise of thought and imagination, and accomplish the opposite of his goal by halting our evolution.
“Night Chills” wasn’t a horrible story, but I did do a lot of eye-rolling listening to it.
One of the fiction writer’s credos is “only trouble is interesting.” But when the trouble comes about because of your character’s asinine decisions or forced and inexplicable circumstances, then the trouble is more frustrating and less interesting. Here is an example: You’re at a public rest stop. Your kids are in the car with you and you need a pay phone. You spot one some distance from where you’re parked, but instead of driving closer to the phone, you decide to get out and walk to it leaving your kids alone in the unlocked car. Oh, and this just after you’ve gotten a creepy message telling you that someone wanted to hurt one of your kids. So, of course, while you’re on the phone, you turn around to see a creepy man chatting up your daughters in the backseat. My first thought was, “dude, you didn’t see this coming? You’re in a public rest stop! Nothing good ever happens in a public rest stop,” and I rolled my eyes.
Here’s another one: Your young daughter is lost in a hospital. To help find her you’ve enlisted a couple of orderlies to wander the halls calling her name. It occurs to you that your daughter might not respond to a couple of strange men shouting after her, and so you conclude that she must be hiding. I’m thinking, “hospital is big enough for a child to get lost in but not big enough to have a PA system? Get on the PA and let her hear her mother’s voice,” but this wouldn’t have worked for the story as written. Child stays lost, story moves on, and I rolled my eyes.
The story’s interesting MacGuffin isn’t revealed until the last third of the novel, and then it’s not fully explored, which makes me think there might be a book 2 on the way. If so, I just hope that Gunhus can make his plot devices a bit more believable.
James Lewis didn’t do a bad job. In fact he did a great job. He has the wonderfully deep basso voice of a TV news anchor, great for reading the news but doesn’t allow for a wide range in personality and characterization.
The Lonely Planet traveler knows how to see some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic locations on the cheap. A passport, a backpack, a pair of good boots and a map of the local youth hostels and you’re on your way. Typical problems on the road revolve around disease, transportation, food and water. Who would think to add serial killer to this list? This is the idea presented in this creepy little story.
International backpackers are typically affable, easy-going and a happy-go-lucky bunch. Easy to make new friends of a variety of cultures and always up for “whatever” they are the low hanging fruit to the traveling sociopath on a budget. Our Hero, Paul, a world traveler of The Road, encounters this serial killer and begins a slow chase to find him and stop him forever. Part of this is a revenge quest – Paul’s girlfriend was one of the victims – but along the way Paul learns that the whole situation is even creepier than simple murder.
This slow thriller, set in the early aughts, has Paul traveling from internet café to internet café, from Cameroon to Nepal to Indonesia. The author paints each location beautifully; you know he’s been there, that he’s eaten the food and seen the sights. The thrill isn’t in the mystery, Paul figures out who the killer is pretty quickly, but in how he’s going to resolve the situation. Local and international law enforcement are less than helpful. It’s down to him, a Lonely Planet web editor, and a handful of acquaintances he met on The Road.
The storytelling is a little dry, and I would have preferred more mystery, but the backpacking lifestyle and each location is brought to vivid life, and it made me want to pack a pack, buy a water filter and hit The Road – despite the serial killer.
Take the Bourne stories and shave away character development, simplify the plot to good guy runs/bad guys chase, and you’ve got the Gray Man stories.
This is not necessarily a criticism. What remains is a consistent character – Court Gentry will always be a “singleton,” a lone operator, his character will never be complicated by relationships, and whatever trouble he gets into he will rely only upon himself and his wits to get out of it.
What we miss are answers to questions like how did Gentry become who he is? Why does the government want him dead? After four books we’re still left with vague and incomplete answers.
The action is non-stop and the book is a page-turner; I didn’t want to stop listening to it. And it’s a return to classic Gray Man after the book 3 side trip to Mexico. I do wish that there was more character development, and that the storyline had more meat on it. The action was projected; it was too easy to see what was coming next. I like the character Court Gentry. I’d like to see him interact within a more complex storyline.
Maybe we’ll get that in book 5. Now that Gentry is hooked in with a powerful foreign intelligence agency he’ll start doing the chasing instead of being the chased, and we’ll find out why the CIA wants him dead!
I love listening to Jay Snyder read these stories. He can go from Frat Boy Dude to Commando in an eye blink. His narration makes all the difference.
A guy wakes up in a Los Angeles cemetery. He’s on fire. He beats out the flames and mugs another guy for cash and a jacket. He’s just come back from Hell. Can you be more badass than that? Meet James Stark, also known in Heaven and Hell as Sandman Slim.
Demon-snatched at 19 and taken “Downtown” (Hell), Stark spends 11 years fighting in Hell’s arena and being abused by Hellions and Lucifer’s army before he finds a way to escape. Now he’s 30 and he’s back in L.A. on a quest for revenge.
This first person narrative has us in Stark’s head as he encounters old and new friends, and seeks out the enemies that sent him Downtown and killed his beloved Alice.
Kadrey’s L.A. is vivid, and Stark’s view of it is at the same time loving and cynical. His smirking, smart-assy quips and observations define the character and set a dark tone for the story. Stark is dark! He’s in a similar milieu as Harry Dresden, but he is far darker.
What can you expect from a guy who spent a decade in Hell? A lot of action and mayhem in colorful settings, from Lucifer’s penthouse suite to a punk tiki bar in L.A. called the Bamboo House of Dolls. If that’s not the best name ever for a bar, I don’t know what is.
If you ever wished that Dresden were a little darker, or if you ever wished that Atticus O’Sullivan were meaner, well here he is in Sandman Slim.
MacLeod Andrews’ growl perfectly embodies Stark’s character. He sounds like a guy who's been smoking Maledictions and drinking Aqua Regia for years.
Well, if vampires were going to take over I believe they would start in L.A. too! “They Thirst” is McCammon’s love letter to “Dracula,” Los Angeles, and now, looking at 30 years past, the 1980’s – I smiled every time a character needed to find a pay phone or turned up a transistor radio.
I first read this book as a kid in the 80’s growing up in Los Angeles. At the time this was sort of the cool kid’s antidote to the “Twilight” of the time (“Interview With a Vampire”) because it was current and used real and – nudge-nudge, wink-wink -- “fictional” L.A. references. From Bela Lugosi to Elvira, Los Angeles has always had a special relationship with vampire mythology and storytelling, and McCammon plays this up to full effect in “They Thirst.”
As an adult I can appreciate his tongue-in-cheek homage to “Dracula,” and his hat tip to “Salem’s Lot” too. He even throws in a couple of shout outs to two of his own earlier novels. Clearly, this is McCammon having fun with the storytelling, so it’s not one of his most polished and mature works. Some of the characters and plot twists are just monster movie over the top. And though it is a little on the long side for this type of story, you still just want to settle in with a big bowl of buttered popcorn and listen the afternoon away. [cue the Theremin and thunder sound effects]
Wow, where to start! This book is a study in how not to write a novel, and yet… and yet, these gals must know something I certainly don’t: they’re published, and this book, Cut and Run, is first in a series of six (!), so far. Or maybe soft-core porn just doesn’t need to be all that well written.
Trying to keep up with the point of view changes was like trying to watch the ball in a championship ping-pong match. It was hard to keep up with who was speaking, and therefore it was impossible to know whose story was being told. Confusing the reader with POV changes is a huge Writing 101 no-no. In Cut and Run the perspective changes so often, sometimes within the same paragraph, that the moment you, reader, start to identify with one character the perspective has switched and you’re on to the other making it difficult to care about either.
I would wager that a full third of this book is nothing but adverbs. Oh my god, nearly every action is done carefully, slowly, slightly, doubtfully, soothingly, flatly, softly, curtly, wordlessly, logically, dubiously… “She complained, obviously.” So many adverbs. They stifled the flow and undermined the storytelling. Another Writing 101 no-no, and the classic “show vs. tell” issue. Instead of telling us that “he watched him warily” the writers could have left out the adverbs, let the dialog and the action flow, and just showed us that the watching was wary.
And speaking of the dialog… the meant-to-be playful banter between the two main characters is forced and sometimes awkward and often clichéd. It’s intended to tell readers, “They hate each other. No, they really hate each other. Well, maybe it’s actually angsty teasing. No, it’s foreplay!” And the writers just beat you over the head with it throughout.
Let’s just call this for what it is: it’s a buddy cop romance thinly disguised as a mystery. There are a lot of needless descriptions of hotel rooms, what the men wore, and pointless actions that have nothing to do with the story, and all these descriptions are just long lead-ins to the sex scenes. The characters don’t actually spend much time trying to solve the murder mystery that is supposed to be at the heart of the story. As for the mystery, if that is what brought you to this book, I would recommend selecting something else. The mystery, a serial killer in New York, isn’t even mysterious enough to keep the attention of the two main characters.
While the budding romance was tender and the sex scenes were kinda hot, I wasn't sufficiently moved by the characters or the story in this book to continue with the series.
Allerde’s narration wasn’t awful – when doing male voices – but his falsettos were pretty bad.
In many ways Uninvited Guests is a comedy of manners, particularly British in its wit and depreciating sense of humor.
The Torrington household is preparing to celebrate the 20th birthday of their eldest daughter, Emerald. At the same time, Charlotte, Em’s mother, is anxious about the state of Sterne, and whether or not she and her children will be able to stay in the house much longer. Her husband, Edward, leaves on the day of the party to negotiate a home loan in town. That’s the set up. And it’s all very dramatic comedy with some upstairs-downstairs conventions and budding romances among the young people, but things change when there’s word of an accident “on the branch line,” and Charlotte’s past, quite literally, comes knocking on the door!
The Uninvited Guests is quiet and funny and creepy all at once, and I found it to be an enjoyable listen. I have only two criticisms: first, while Kate Reading did a fabulous job for the most part, her interpretations of some of the character affectations seemed a bit off to me. Also, like some other reviewers, I felt the pony situation, though it started off being funny, went on longer than it needed.
Still, if you’re in the mood for turn of the century wit and a bit of the supernatural you could do worse than The Uninvited Guests.
I came across a review of this book at another website and it summed up my feelings perfectly, so I’m going to quote a bit of it here:
“I’m at a loss to aptly describe the effect of Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone. It’s an eerily detached novel, with characters that range from emotionless to desperate, governed by tradition, superstition and even the supernatural. It’s an unsettling book. A quiet book. A surreal book. I’m not sure how I feel about it.”
I don’t know how I feel about the book either.
Hemmersmoor is a small, isolated village with a dark history. Your House Is on Fire tells the story of five friends who grew up in the village and return as middle-aged men and women to attend a funeral. The story is told from the various perspectives of the five. There is murder, rape, incest, bigotry and petty cruelty throughout, and not one of these characters is the least bit likable or sympathetic. Not one. For that reason alone the book was hard to get through.
The story is also beautifully written. Craftily written. Hemmersmor villagers are layered in secrets, and as the children grow up and tell their stories these secrets are revealed, peeled away like layers of an onion to slowly and quietly expose the dark heart of this poisoned community.
I usually like my audiobooks to be 10 hours or more, but this time I was thankful that this was a short one. It left a sour taste in my mind and I had to immediately watch a cheesy comedy after it was over. I didn’t want these characters in my head for too long. They are fictional. The horror is how ordinary and real they are.
I’m reading the negative reviews wondering how anyone could not have enjoyed this book, and I see a theme here. It seems that those who didn’t like the book were looking for a straightforward, linear genre novel. That’s not what this is, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you should do as one reviewer suggested and go for the latest Lee Child or Robert Crais.
Night Film is a psychological drama with “mystery” and “thriller” elements. There is a mystery and there are thrills (I found myself gasping out loud at some of the events), but from start to end this story is no simple mystery. It is as intricate and fine as a well-crafted puzzle box. And consider that of the two contrasting characters one is a reporter who’s job is to find the truth, the other is a film director who’s job is to create fiction, and you can imagine the labyrinthine rabbit hole the director leads the reporter down. It’s dark and deceptive. Our rational hero must question everything he sees and experiences – was that real or was that the Primrose Path he’s expected to follow? And even the object he seeks, The Truth, must also be questioned.
One reviewer said that at the end of the book she wanted to start it all over again armed with a new perspective. I felt the same way! And I imagine that like a good puzzle box this story doesn’t have one way in but many, and those entry points can only be found after subsequent readings.
I love these long, chewy novels you can really sink your teeth into. Let Jake Weber’s narration wrap around you like a warm blanket and snuggle in for an amazing ride.
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