If it seems slow at first, stay with it. What you get is a simple plot that starts bright then gets dark and deep, a haunting love story (including a virtuoso erotic scene), a war story which is compelling and convincing, a precise portrait of the genteel psychological drama of the 1930s English upper-middle classes, and an extraordinary structural twist that will make you rethink the whole thing. Beautifully read with just the right accent and rhythm. Makes an interesting compare and contrast with Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin (also a top tip).
The Scott story, told through fictional excerpts from the private diaries of the five expedition members who died. Bainbridge edited an edition of Scott's (non-fictional) diaries, so we can trust her version of the facts, but really this is all about the inner life of the men. We feel the private emotions and fears, and the frustration with Scott's strength, charisma, eccentricity and irrationality. It's a bit slow occasionally, but as the inevitable end approaches, the tragedy grips. You don't need to be an Antarctic buff to follow this, although it probably helps to know the basic story in advance. To get all the detail without the literary-psychological content, read "The Worst Journey in the World". Narrated excellently, with a nuanced sympathy for the social background and status of each of the crew.
After a great opening, this degenerates into a slow and pointless ramble. The cocktail of biblical history, cyber-punk and action thriller should have been dynamite, but it tries too hard to be clever and instead it just fizzles out. The narration is mediocre at best. Might work for a long drive, but listening on a 30-minute commute I lost interest half-way through and never went back.
All the other 5-star reviews tell you what you need to know. Robert Harris's historical thrillers are gripping, intelligent, pacy and surprising (even when we do know the ending!) A ripping yarn, and along the way we learn about Roman society, sexual mores, civil engineering, volcanoes, and Pliny the elder. Perfect for drive-time. Don't bother with the abridgement, the full monty cracks along nicely. Let's have all Harris's books on Audible.
There is some good content here. I suppose. There's got to be, because Womack's work has been so influential with very smart people.
BUT, this is the best example I know of why you want a professional reader. Womack's narration is like a lethargic robotic toad reading aloud a tax return form. And I think this abridgement misses some of the good stuff. I was very motivated to learn about Lean Thinking, but still I could hardly listen to it. Avoid.
My kids (4 & 6) love this and so do I. Inventive, surreal, subversive, diverse, and delivered with superb narrative skill. Very witty at an adult level - check out the "3 Little Pigs" told by an alien life-form. We've listened to this over and over and now we have lots of in-jokes based on these stories. I just wish Audible would get more of Willy's stuff.
Audio is of course a natural format for a musical biography, and this delivers a competent short biography of the great man (turns out, not as stone deaf as the popular image). But this won't grab you like a novel the way a really good biography should, which is a shame considering he was such an interesting and iconic character. It's a bit dull - somehow I never quite connected with the subject at an emotional or psychological level; but you get the facts - often quite sad -without any sensationalist speculation or idle dallying. The splendid thing is the musical excerpts - I could have done with many more, and more musical analysis. Perhaps they were tacked on as an afterthought for the audio edition.
For drivetime, only recommended if you a strong pre-existing interest in Ludwig van.
Inventive, sassy, and smart, orbiting somewhere in the triangle between sci-fi, cyberpunk, and contemporary urban style thriller, without quite being any of those genres. At the core there's a haunting story based on a (just-about) plausible premise. The plot occasionally loses direction and pace, and sometimes the style neuroses are heavy-handed, but still I ended up caring about Cayce Pollard. Can we hear more about her?
A good drive-time listen, if occasionally difficult to follow on the details of the dialogue.
If only all Audios were this good. Fine, serious writing, gripping and fast-moving plot, inventive settings, delightful turns of phrase, plenty of surprises, and a powerful message with a challenging conclusion. A classic dystopian vision of arresting originality, compelling characterization and great depth (with just the occasional anachronism - aspirin? hard-copy CVs? but these are quibbles). The narration is spot-on too.
Charles Frazier's narration kills this: flat, unemotional, monotonous even when the story itself is fast and exciting. I couldn't finish it as an audio; but it sounds like a great book. Too dull for drive-time.
Don't be fooled by the other reviews claiming this is serious literature; this is lightweight and formulaic stuff. Still, it rolls along quite nicely and it's a fine drive-time listen. However, grown-ups who were reminded by Margaret Atwood's "Oryx and Crake" how much they liked Sci-Fi as a teenager should look elsewhere.
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