Yes. I've read around and it does sound like some of his earlier novels were good ones.
The narrator gave his performance a rather flippant tone which detracted from the story all together. He tended not to differentiate between characters' voices well enough so that it was hard to tell who was speaking during a dialogue. And worst of all, he couldn't pronounce any words in French or other languages at all. Which was unfortunate since there were times when French was used. He also mispronounced English words often enough that I was distracted and annoyed by it. I don't usually have problems with narrators, but this one I will avoid in future.
I have to say I'm not positive it was worth the listening time. It was an interesting story, but the plot at times just left me wondering about the characters and their emotions. It was hard to understand why they did what they did or why they didn't care more about various things. Really, the story is between 2 and 3 stars, but I suppose that might have been a higher score with a different narrator. The flippant tone just didn't help the story one bit.
The narrator did such a great job. She was great voicing both guys and girls, and gave Hawaiian and Japanese names an authentic sound. Her accent when she spoke as Hawaiian/Asian characters was fantastic. It reminded me of my aunt.
I felt at times that the book was a bit long. I enjoyed the beginning and parts of the middle, but then started wondering what else could happen. But then the last part of the novel came. I was crying so often -- so moving.
I too was disappointed by this book. Somehow it felt too wordy -- I almost felt like the story could have been told in a short story more effectively. I didn't understand the motivation behind the actions of various characters, and I could predict what was going to happen at the denouement. I gave the novel three stars for managing to grab my attention for at least a while. "The Confessions of Max Tivoli" is a much better read.
I was on the fence on how to rate this book. First off, I do want to say that one of the things I was wondering about was whether the fact that I don't speak Spanish would affect how well I would enjoy the book. I discovered to my pleasure that I was fine not knowing the exact meaning of the various phrases used. I could guess with some and with others it wasn't a problem just not knowing.
As for why I wasn't sure how to rate the book, it was really the ending that made it a problem for me. The writing in this book is wonderful -- it catches you from the beginning and really keeps you wanting to know more. But that's part of the problem for me. When the ending came, I felt it was a big letdown. I wanted more to it than there was. I didn't feel a sense of closure, if you will. Hard to explain without giving the ending away.
The upshot is that this is a great book, but don't expect much from the ending. And if that's more important to you than good writing and a good middle story, then think about whether it's worth the read.
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