Not so much a review of the book, but just a comment on audiobooks. George Guidall is a top notch narrator; one of the best. But his style and the style of this book made this sound EXACTLY like his narrations for Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. I kid you not; I think this one could be dropped in the middle and no one would know different.
For the record I enjoyed this book and I also enjoyed Stephen King's.
This is essentially a story of self-discovery but there really isn't any sense of urgency, purpose or drama. A naive teenager impulsively sets out and story after story occur. None of them interesting. None of them particularly revealing nor suspenseful nor rewarding. It is interesting that the society in the story is very regulated, structured and bland (by intention) and, as a result, so is the "adventure" we experience. In listening, I must admit I was bored by this story; drifted my attention to other thoughts; came back and really didn't miss anything. I am at a point of just hearing through the end just to finish it.
The biggest problem is that there is no suspense aspect at all. I can't tell what is really driving this character besides curiosity and idle choice. There is no drive here, Owen just does things and he doesn't know why and neither do you...and after a while you don't care.
Here I have to bury my fanboy bias for Rush. Neil isn't a good narrator. He reads the story as a father would read a bedtime story to a young child or a baby he's trying to lull to sleep. Very few sentence inflections (and I mean like three or four) and they don't particularly match the story action. He has limited character 'voices' and they all sound fairytale-ish. He voices the main character, who is a naive 17 year old, with such innocence that I equate it with a naive 10 year old.
Also, sad to say, Neil has a slight lateral lisp and his 'ess' sound come across as 'esh.' Now that's no big deal, and many people speak that way...just not professional narrators. There is a reason why people with hangnails aren't professional hand models, if you catch my drift.
All that said, the story doesn't help either.
It's not a matter of scene or scenes to cut. The story just needs more purpose, and either drama or humor or adventure or love or anything really.
It does make for a good, if super-prolonged, drinking game. Take a drink every time you hear a Rush lyric or song title!
Ya know... there is a point where you just sit back and say this or that character is getting ridiculous and it is making the whole story ridiculous. I've reached the point where the Chairman of the Hansa is so one-dimensional and such a pivot point for the enitre story that everything is getting predictable.
If you've seen the movie you don't need to get the book. Some enhancement of Anakin Slywalker's character but not enough to thrill.
I really enjoy Orson Scott Card's stories but unfortunately I had a science fiction bias when I bought this book. There is in fact little to no science fiction in this book. It's Earth bound and in the future, that's it. Good story though.
The production is poor. Everyone has their own preferences as to how narration is done but I'm sure all agree that the editing of corrections and music are like loud bangs in a quiet room. Clearly it wasn't until the end that someone pointed out the mispronuciations of names and words. The solution of letting some instances slide, warbling others, and dropping in mismatched re-records was just plain BAD. You can get through it but you may feel you didn't get your money's worth.
Even on the best format the sound is so tinny that it is hard to hear or more accurately it is hard to listen. When dealing with audiobooks this is a very important factor to consider. Reading this might be the better choice. You may have to really like the author to sit through this one.
I thought the set-up was perfect for a witty and humorous story. This is not a comedy (which is why everybody is saying it is slow). If your interest is in a dramatic story comparing good and evil in an interesting world that is not ours then maybe this book is for you.
I very much like this series and recommend it but, with over 100 hours of audio time, don't start with the expectation that it ends with the third book. In a very real sense it seems like it is only getting started. Similar to Robert Jordan's series this may well be a long series.
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