The thought provoking story of a brilliant young survivor from Burundi who with hope, persistence, and intelligence survives the slaughter in Burundi (and despair of the slums of New York) to go to Columbia and medical school. The horrifying effects of failed colonial policies and the paradox that a person would be happier under the threat of genocide than living in poverty in New York raise important questions about our culture and politics, all in the context of a great story of generosity, persistence, and the triumph of the human spirit.
I wish we had an epilogue about how the protagonist is doing now, especially following the renewed violence in Burundi.
The author does an adequate job reading, but it is a rare author who does as well as an actor. The recording would have benefited from a professional reader.
An interesting, thoughtful, and often elegantly written story of an ironically botched hostage taking provides a good commentary on power in relationships, the power of art, and class in society, all without being too heavy-handed. The ending is a bit abrupt. The narrator sounded bored as she read, and it was hard for me to stay engaged until I increased the speed of the playback on my iPod. It's a good book if you hang in there; speeding it up should help.
Charming and well-witten story of a stuffy retired British gentleman in a small town getting his limits tested by and finding much in common with a local Pakistani shopkeeper. Every time you think the story is settling into stereotypical roles, the author surprises you with a small surprise that keeps you engaged until the next one.
I bought this because it seemed a little different for me, but had great reviews. I found the story disconnected and the characters shallow and stereotypical. Throughout the story, a couple of the characters have a running joke about being just like the characters in Scooby Doo. I found some irony in this, both because the joke did nothing to advance the plot, and because the characters and plot were thinner than a 2 dimensional Scooby cartoon.
Shouldn't complain, because it was free, but ... this is a very dry presentation of interesting material. The author is erudite and insightful about Beethoven's music, and about playing and performing music, but the narration is flat and the text is not very informative in a vacuum, without the music the author describes.
Can't really complain, because it was free, but this story is not well written. Little style, little plot, fair amount of r-rated sex scenes if that is all you want. Reader is OK, but nothing to work with.
This is a charming and understated book that works extremely well on many levels. The whimsical conceit and cover art of an eccentric englishman walking across the country to save an old friend belies a thought provoking examination of how we relate to each other, what people need and what is really important in life and relationships. The simple sounding plot is full of twists and surprises, and every time you think you know what is coming the author surprises you with something more interesting. The narration matches the quality of the story.
The authors "Australia Trilogy" is celebrated as his "love letter to Australia," but I found this book to be at least as much so. Like every Courtenay book I have read, it is populated with interesting and charming characters.Courtenay's love of language and dialect comes out in the dialog, and is masterfully conveyed by Humphrey Bower as narrator, whose performance ranks with Jim Dale in the Harry Potter books. The book does not have the epic sweep, however, of some of Courtenay's other books. I thought the story was good but not great and the story and narrative devices did not hang together enough for a 5 star rating.
A light and fluffy story, with some humor and a little suspense. Sex is an undercurrent driving a lot of the story, and I found a lot of the dialog around sex repetitive and unrealistic. At least I hope not too many people talk about it like these characters do. I thought the ensemble approach worked pretty well and the actors did well.
It was interesting to read this book after reading so many reviews critical of the final plot twist. Starting about half way though the book there were so many crazy plot twists that I wondered if each one was the one the critics were talking about. I can see why many reviewers did not like that final twist, but I thought it was fun, ironic, and thought provoking. An engaging and fun story with enough substance to keep the reader thinking and engaged.
The reviews and blurbs led me to expect a Michael Crichton like book, where the author pushes a researched understanding of a serious issue to a gripping and plausible (with a little suspension of disbelief) thriller. The book seemed to keep its promise at the start, but the story degenerates and becomes more bombastic and less plausible with each chapter. It ends with a semi-coherent plot twist suggesting a battle between corporations and a computer system where governments are no longer relevant, plus a long battle scene involving self-repairing killer race robo-motorcycles suitable more for a teenage fantasy than a novel that is supposed to have a kernel of seriousness. It seemed written more to be a high budget B-movie than a thriller for its thought and craft rather than its big explosions. The sudden, irresolute and poorly developed ending cries out, as another reviewer suggested, "$$equel." I started off feeling engaged, but ended feeling manipulated.
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