I have appreciated Dick Wolf's television work over the years; so I really expected to enjoy this novel. The plot had some good twists, but too much of the story was 'told' instead of 'shown.' I was never able to achieve an immersive experience.
The narrator has a deep bass voice with very little modulation. I fought against my boredom with the story and the narration to get through it. Given my low level of frustration, I focussed on every mispronounced word. Not something I want to do again any time soon.
Having read some very positive reviews, I had high hopes for this book. E.L. Doctorow narrates his own book and his lack of breath control was the first thing that I noticed. He gasps for air multiple times during a sentence and swallows consonants. It affected how I was breathing while listening to him. I had to stop after 30 minutes. Sad, that. I have no idea about the story--couldn't focus.
I am conflicted about giving this low rating because I suspect that my reasons have little to do with the author or the narrator. Having heard good reviews about The Guns of August, I purchased this audio book with great expectations. Barbara W. Tuchman's writing style is clear and concise; it is an excellent representation of what I look for in historical non-fiction. Nadia May's narration is worthy of praise; she brings life to passages that might have otherwise been droned as a litany.
So what's wrong, you might ask. The book has too many players and too many scenarios for me to successfully comprehend in audio. When reading such a work in print, I may easily turn back a few pages and remind myself that General Whatnot serves the German army but is in conflict with General Himtoo, who is also German. This is not so easy in audio.
At about a third of the way through the book, I decided to just keep pushing ahead and hope that I would catch the thread without continually "paging back." Another third of the way along, I find myself in a quagmire of characters and plots. It's not enjoyable and I'm not learning a thing. I will re-visit this printed book in the future.
Ugh! I listened to the audio book. Too many times, it felt like Tim was reading a grocery list for the 100th time. He starts the narration by saying something about having read the book and it wasn't that interesting. I'm sure he meant it to be a joke, but his tone at the beginning and through the remainder of the book seems like he meant it a little more than he hoped. Don't listen to this book. Maybe don't even read it. Let your memories of this great comedian remain intact.
Relic has an eminently creative plot, while still maintaining easy-to-follow excerpts. I enjoyed the interplay of attraction and offense between the dynamic, interesting characters that filled in the story. Sometimes I like to be a distracted audio book listener rather than a voracious reader; in those cases, any book like this one would fit the bill perfectly.
"Deep calls out to deep ...", Psalms 42:7. Many passages from the Bible (including the Apocrypha) are quoted in The Poisonwood Bible to give insight into the characters and their thoughts. I don't remember seeing this one, but it is a passage that provides insight into my own thoughts as I read this awesome novel. I enjoy browsing reviews after finishing a book and I was struck by how polarizing this book was. This work of fiction certainly gives much to offend the reader, where few stones (of the human experience) are left unturned.
Some negative reviewers reacted to what appears to be an anti-American-Christian-culture message. May I suggest a different understanding? The newly landed, missionary family encounters a tree in the Congo that appears to be useful but the inhabitants warn the family away from the Poisonwood tree because it is poisonous to contact. This is a lesson that the all-knowing, father, with his colonialist mindset, learns slowly. I am left understanding the importance of learning the deeper role that factors play in this world; that accepting the surface message as whole can be dangerous. Good book.
I perceive that my middling rating for this book is largely influenced by my decision to listen to the audio edition rather than read the print edition. The first third of the book creates the setting and introduces the main characters slowly by inference and realization. For example, there are many characters that are introduced for one or two paragraphs and then never referenced again; it is only by continual reference that one realizes who are the main characters. These characters actions are inferred when another characters reflects on having witnessed an event. The scene changes frequently and without obvious breaks in the flow. I became so confused that I had to re-read entire sections from a borrowed, print copy to get back on track. The latter two-thirds of the book were more clear but I still lost the train of thought too many times.
I wish that I had decided to read only the print version. The author's writing style is excellently formatted for that mode.
This is another delectable treat from a proven, master of character development and story telling. I am so amazed that every novel that I read by Chris Bohjalian is a new and fresh treatment of his chosen topic. The Light in the Ruins does not disappoint as it breathes new life into a story of the travesties of war, the aftermath, and human touch that comes through.
The two narrators in this Audiobook edition added to the whole experience with clarity and timing.
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