As a fan of historical fiction I expected to like this book a lot more. All the pieces are there but they never quite joined up into a suspenseful tale. I spoil nothing by saying the killer was revealed way too early in the book and was so stupid that I actually was a bit embarrassed it took so long to catch him. The book also suffered from an over abundance of side plots and too much ultimately pointless “forensic science.” Only the likability of main characters kept it uneasily afloat. I think I will go read The Alienist by Carr again to remind myself of how this book could have been done the right way.
Before sitting down to write this review I checked several sites to make sure this was not a YA book. If it were a book for 10-15 year old readers I would have given it 5 stars. However it is being sold as a book for adults and judged as such it is bordering on terrible!
First, let me talk about the production. The narrator is not bad and sounds sufficiently Luke-like, but they decided the book needed sound effects. I am sorry but when the narrator says "I fired my lasers" I don't need a "phew, phew" sound to back him up nor do I need a background hum to remember the character is on a space ship. It gives the whole thing a sort of Saturday morning cartoon feel.
Indeed the plot also has a very cartoonish feel, with several short and episodic missions feeding in to one overall and poorly developed goal. Spoiling nothing I feel safe saying that the plot remains so shallow, straightforward, and uncomplicated that were it a pool you could walk through it without getting your shoes wet.
It also bears pointing out that the whole book is in first person, and not the good kind. Good first person lets you completely share the action though the character's eyes and though the filter of their own back story. This sort of first person reads like a laundry list of what the character just did or said with no feeling or insight.
It was a very hard book to finish listening to and I regret its addition to Mr. Hearne's catalog. Out of love for his other books I am just going to assume that he did write this book for children and that it was mismarketed.
Let me preface this by saying that I loved the Abhorsen trilogy, and for their sake I really wanted to like this book. Honestly that love was the only reason I even listened through to the end of this dreary, disheartening, disaster of a book.
Imagine, if you will, watching someone walk down a hall toward a guy with an ax, pause at every doorway, whine about wanting to live in the forest, then keep walking down the same hall to the ax. Now imagine watching that for nearly twelve hours surrounded by people you hate. Yup, that is listening to this book.
Clariel spends the whole book telling anyone who will listen that she doesn't like them, then inexplicable she does exactly want they tell her to do. Why?! Especially seeing as every other character in the book is a duty shirking narcissist or a scheming, power hungry jerk. All building up to a conclusion that even the main character admits was forgone.
The only thing I can't fault is the narrator. Tim Curry he was not, but judged on his own merits he did a good job.
This is a story for those who have read the first two book multiple times, those who have pondered the little questions and teased out the hints for where the story will go next. Do you wonder who Kvothe's mother really was? Do you debate who the Princess Kvothe saves is? Does the Lackless box keep you up at night? If so, this story has a lot to offer in the way of small hints about Auri's past and subtle foreshadowing.
Plus Auri is just charming! She is a straight forward and pure soul and a great balance to Kvothe's suspicious and dark soul. I did not at all mind spending part of a span with her as she lived her everyday life. No dragons were slain, no maidens were rescued, but I felt every bit as involved in her quest to find the brazen brass gear a home as I would have it she was taking a ring to Mordor. I wondered to the very end just what she would find for his gift and I was never let down. If the author had not made such a point of the lack of traditional plot and dialog I never would have noticed.
This is a story that stands as a tribute to just how deep and intricate a world Mr. Rothfuss has built and just how well you can know his characters.
I truly enjoyed it.
To be fair it does say in the description that McKinley is retelling the story again not that she is revisiting the characters that she wrote in Beauty. Still, I really enjoyed the first book and was maybe a little too eager to hear more about them and what growing up in an enchanted castle would be like (after all 'daughter' is right in the title). So I started off this book disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it is a pretty good book, but Beauty was full of innocence, wonder, and forthright humor and this time the story is all mystic and full of symbolism. I prefer Beauty and there is not enough new here to recommend reading it in addition to that book.
I rarely feel moved to write reviews, but I have to disagree on this one. I feel like the pages of glowing reviews need a voice of dissension. This book was so slow and contrived, the characters so flat and disagreeable that I actually could not even finish it. That is nearly a first for me, but at 10 plus hours in I found myself so completely apathetic to the "thrilling mystery" of Ashley's death that I could not go on. You could say that I turned my eyes away from the beautiful, deathly, sovereignty of life's cruel underbelly or whatever, I think I just gave up on a bad book. In fact, I wish I had given up way sooner.
I loved Honor from the very first book, but as the series goes on David Weber is drifting slowly away from what had made it great. This is the first book where Honor is noticeably being pushed off to the sides of her own series, replaced by interminably explanation of new technology and tactics and a beginning of the slide into the murky, frustrating obsession with politics that sucks whatever joy could have been out of the following books. The parts with Honor are still good enough to make this one worth the listen, however maddeningly short they maybe, but it is the last book I can say that of. If after listening to this book you agree with me that politics and unrestrained techno babble are not as good as compelling characters and plot, I would make this the last in the series you bother with. I wish I had.
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