You no longer follow Dubi

You will no longer see updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can re-follow a user if you change your mind.

OK

You now follow Dubi

You will receive updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can unfollow a user if you change your mind.

OK

Dubi

People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.

New York, NY, United States

ratings
103
REVIEWS
102
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
5
HELPFUL VOTES
137

  • Ajax Penumbra 1969

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 49 mins)
    • By Robin Sloan
    • Narrated By Ari Fliakos
    Overall
    (222)
    Performance
    (201)
    Story
    (201)

    Young Ajax Penumbra has not arrived in San Francisco looking for free love or a glimpse of the technological future. He is seeking a book: the single surviving copy of the Techne Tycheon, a mysterious volume that has brought and lost great fortune for anyone who has owned it. The last record of the book locates it in the San Francisco of more than a century earlier, and on that scant bit of evidence, Penumbra's university has dispatched him west to acquire it for their library.

    Bonny says: "Perfect prequel"
    "Penumbra Prequel Is Too Slight"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Ajax Penumbra 1969 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Nowhere near the lofty status of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, the full length novel to which this short story/novella serves as a prequel. This story of how young Ajax Penumbra came to San Francisco 35 years earlier and ended up in his bookstore proved interesting enough to me as a fan of 24-Hour Bookstore, but it could not have stood on its own and doesn't rank with its predecessor, which at or near the top my all-time list of audiobooks.


    If you’ve listened to books by Robin Sloan before, how does this one compare?

    The big difference between the original Sloan novel and this prequel is the point of view. 24-Hour Bookstore is narrated in the first person by young Clay Jannon in the present day. His charisma and exuberance and ingenuity really carries the novel. 1969 is in the third person, relating the story of Penumbra's early years, filling in an important part of the story, but without that same sense of wonder and discovery.

    Then there is the collision of the old world and new technology, which is the central theme of both stories. For Clay, the limitless capabilities of modern computing open up doors to relearning "old knowledge" contained in legacy technology like print and literature, marrying the widsom of the ages with the promise of the future.

    In 1969, microcomputing is in its infancy and it does provide a backdrop to Penumbra's journey. But he makes different choices in his youth than Clay makes three decades later. In fact, as likeable of a character as Penumbra is, his one big flaw is his timidity, and 1969 proves that it was indeed his starting point. If Penumbra's world was the real world, it would be amazing to imagine how it might have turned out if he had been as bold and resourceful in 1969 as Clay was in 24-Hour Bookstore.


    What does Ari Fliakos bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Having read 24-Hour Bookstore in print as well as listening to it as an audiobook, I knew already that Ari Fliakos augmented the experience by adding a lively voice to the narrative and good characterizations. He does no less in 1969.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Deflated me was more like it. Avoiding spoilers, I was disappointed when Penumbra made his ultimate choice, which sets the stage for what we see later in 24-Hour Bookstore. I guess if young Penumbra was more like Clay, there would never have been a pretext for 24-Hour Bookstore, so in that meta-post-modern manner, I should be happy.


    Any additional comments?

    Any fan of 24-Hour Bookstore MUST read/listen to this prequel. Chances are I'm being too picky in my critique and most fans will love it as much as the novel. For those who haven't read 24-Hour Bookstore, I would of course recommend reading/listening to that first and then doubling back to 1969. However, I have seen reviews where people read this first and liked it well enough to continue on to 24-Hour Bookstore, so either way, I guess.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Three Early Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (39 mins)
    • By J.D. Salinger
    • Narrated By Mike Dennis
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (34)

    A young and ambitious writer named Jerome David Salinger set his goals very high very early in his career. He almost desperately wished to publish his early stories in The New Yorker magazine, the pinnacle, he felt, of America’s literary world. But such was not to be for several long years and the length of one long world war. But other magazines were quick to recognize a new talent, a fresh voice at a time when the world verged on madness....

    Jonathan says: "Early Gems From A Master"
    "Sketches and Glimpses"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    J.D. Salinger was adamant about not allowing his early works to be reprinted in later years, after he became a popular author. He didn't believe them good enough to be preserved for posterity in book form. He only ever authorized the publication of 14 of his short stories (all but one of which originally appeared in The New Yorker, which he believed to be the major league of short story publication), as well as of course his only novel, The Catcher in the Rye.

    Nevertheless, all of his previously published short stories were in fact collected in a bootleg edition, one that he tried hard to quash but remains in circulation (a handful of unpublished stories recently surfaced in a separate bootleg edition). Having read all of his stories in their crude print form, and having now listened to these three character sketches in audio format, there is no disputing Salinger's self-evaluation. These are clearly not equal to the master work he published in Nine Stories and the three Glass family volumes (though to be honest, despite being a huge fan, I have a hard time with the overly dense and overlong Seymour and Hapworth).

    But it is still highly worthwhile for Salinger fans to read/listen to these stories, warts and all. They may not be perfect, but they show the early developmental stages of a writer who would soon grow into one of the best ever -- like watching old video of Wayne Gretzky as a child showing glimpses of Hall of Fame greatness. The first of these stories in particular, which happens to be Salinger's first published work, presages The Catcher in the Rye, with a guy and a girl home from college trying to connect at a party.

    The stories also happen to be somewhat dated in their slang, being from the early 40s, and there is a lot of repetition in Salinger's dialogue as he tries to capture the speech patterns of a variety of characters from that era (as he did to perfection in many of the Nine Stories). On the plus side, Salinger's nearly exclusive reliance on dialogue to convey his story, themes, and characterizations, a hallmark of his short stories, is on full display here.

    I'd say, at the end of the day, that this short audiobook is best suited for Salinger completists and not as an introduction for people who have never read him before. Normally, I'd direct the latter group to better known works, but in this case, none of Salinger's books are readily available in audio (except hard to find versions recorded for blind readers, or illegally). One can only hope that that will be soon rectified, along with plans to release much of his never published writing in the wake of his passing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Talk: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Michael A. Smerconish
    • Narrated By James Edward Thomas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (42)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    Stan Powers finds himself at a crossroads. Poised to take the last step in his unlikely ascent to the top of conservative talk radio, his conscience may not let him. Set amid the backdrop of "the most important presidential election of our lifetime", Powers - as the most influential voice in Tampa’s hotly contested I-4 Corridor - holds the key to Florida, and therefore the Oval Office. His on-air attacks singlehandedly put an abrupt end to the top candidates' main competitors in the primaries, and now he is in the singular position to influence who wins the highest elected office in the world.

    J.Cozzens says: "Good Read"
    "From the Horse's Mouth"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Michael Smerconish knows talk radio. He has hosted his own political talk show for a decade and a half and now has his own show on CNN after years as a talking head on other political TV shows. And he knows something else that is central to the story contained in his first (and to date only) novel -- what it's like to abandon the lucrative field of right wing talk radio, as well as the Republican Party, to try to find a civil and sustainable independent middle ground.

    Talk recounts the role played by a rising star in conservative talk radio, Stan Powers, during a contentious presidential campaign. I don't want to give anything away, but Powers battles a crisis of conscience from start to finish -- what he's willing to do to further his personal ambition vs. what he knows is the ethical alternative. In the process, Smerconish gives us an insider's view of talk radio, demolishing it -- not an expose per se, because all he is really doing is confirming what we already know about talk radio.

    The beauty of his story is in the details -- the details of how Powers crafts his career as a talking head, how a talk show (and the talk radio industry) works, and most entertainingly, how his fictional presidential campaign unfolds. James Edward Thomas comes through for us in this first person narration by capturing Smerconish's well-known voice -- not in timbre, Thomas's voice being deeper and rougher, but in tone.

    Two minor points of quibble that cost Smersh a star: he is a talking head, not a writer (his five nonfiction titles notwithstanding), so I should not expect him to be Hemingway, but I did long for a bit more show and little less tell -- there is too much exposition that could've been dramatized rather than narrated (great example: instead of telling us what each candidate stands for, let them do that themselves during the debate that Smerconish does in fact dramatize). His last chapter, while containing good stuff, is also too much tell and no show (and too preachy), especially since it comes after Stan has made his ethical decisions.

    The other thing, more in terms of Smerconish's stance rather than in his story or writing, is his frequent fallback on false equivalency. He should know better, his story being Exhibit A -- most of the ills he describes, in talk radio and TV news, in political campaigning and policy setting, emanate from one side. False equivalency is the gratuitous assumption that both sides are equally complicit, but if you look at the facts and do the math, the ratio is in fact far from 50-50, skewed more like 70-30 or more.

    Well, you can tell from that last paragraph which side I fall on. If you're coming from the other end of the spectrum, you are going to find that this story comes out of a different part of the horse than its mouth. I would still recommend you listen to it. You may end up taking the same road Smerconish took, restoring moderation in place of polarization. For everyone else, especially the silent majority of independent thinkers, this may be a case of preaching to the choir, but it is both entertaining and illuminating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Case of the Missing Servant

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Tarquin Hall
    • Narrated By Sam Dastor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (350)
    Performance
    (249)
    Story
    (250)

    In hot and dusty Delhi, Puri's main work comes from screening prospective marriage partners, a job once the preserve of aunties and family priests. But when an honest public litigator is accused of murdering his maidservant, it takes all of Puri's resources to investigate. How will he trace the fate of the girl, known only as Mary, in a population of more than one billion? Who is taking pot shots at him and his prize chilli plants?

    Brooke says: "Great mystery with local India color"
    "Delhi Chatter"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Vish Puri is a private detective in Delhi juggling several cases -- the missing servant girl of the title, a judge accused of murder, potential political corruption, and the suitability of a prospective groom, as well as an attempt on his own life. Helping him are an array of characters, including (under his perpetual protest) his mother. All set to the sights and sounds, tastes and smells, people and places, morals and mores, and social and religious diversity of modern India.

    But what sets this IMFL (Indian-Made Foreign Literature) apart, especially in audio, is author Tarquin Hall's masterful use of Indian English. Though born in London to American and English parents, the former journalist now lives in Delhi with his Indian wife. Clearly reveling in the charming (as he calls it) way Indians have appropriated (malappropriated) the English language, Hall has created a series of novels that allow us to listen in.

    "English is a mongrel language and the English themselves have had no qualms about looting tens of thousands of words from other languages (and often changed the meanings) so why shouldn’t others do the same," Hall writes in introducing his Indian-English glossary. We are the beneficiaries of his golden ear for how English has evolved in his adopted land in this first entry in the Vish Puri mystery series.

    As much as I have come to appreciate audiobooks set in India or about Indians (far more than in print), as I have previously remarked in reviewing Q&A (Slumdog Millionaire), A Son of the Circus, Life of Pi, and The 100-Foot Journey, there has to be more to it than just their lilting present tense manner of speaking. There has to be a good story. Hall's story is in the mystery format, with a complex plot that has all the hallmarks of ultimately coming together in a manner essential to a good mystery -- at once anticipated and unanticipated.

    But... it didn't come together in the way I anticipated, and the unanticipated elements were not satisfying (for me). I don't want to get into details that would be spoilers. Stylistically, the story rushes too hurriedly to its denouement, leaving a lot of plot potential on the table. My understanding is that the Puri series gets better with each entry, so I will definitely be giving it another go. Whether this works for you, however, depends on how interested you think you would be in the landscape and language -- without that, this is just another mystery novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Confessions of a D-List Supervillain

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Jim Bernheimer
    • Narrated By Jeffrey Kafer, Talmadge Ragan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (832)
    Performance
    (783)
    Story
    (790)

    Exploding from the pages of Horror, Humor, and Heroes, Volume One - it’s the full length adventures of the one and only Mechani-Cal! So grab your battlesuit and prepare to get a little nasty.

    Michael says: "Not Quite The Avengers, But Just As Much Fun..."
    "D-List Supervillain, B-List Audiobook"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Amid a pop-culture landscape awash in superheros, supernatural entities, magical beings, gods, abilities, etc. etc., there is only one way to rise above the mediocrity that eventually envelops such a glut -- create engaging characters. Making them funny helps a lot too. Jim Bernheimer succeeds with Confessions of a D-List Supervillain because his main character, Mechani-Cal, a low-rent bad guy who is not really a bad guy, is exactly that -- engaging, and funny.

    Surprisingly, I can't think of many books or movies where the supervillain is the hero. The biggie is Despicable Me. In literature, the one I immediately think of even though it is not well known is Lee Martinez's Emperor Mollusk (a five-star audiobook). I'm sure there are others that are eluding me at the moment. Still, considering how many X-Men and Avengers and Batmen and Supermen and Spidermen there are, the percentage of works that flip the POV to that of the villain seems pretty low.

    That's the route Bernheimer takes, even though it becomes instantly evident that Cal is a villain in name only and that the real supervillain is hiding in superhero clothing. But never mind -- it works because Cal is engaging and funny, not because of superpowers or techno gadgetry or anything else. This could have been a reality-based story of an unappreciated geek getting back at his boss and making good with the boss's beautiful girlfriend, and it would have worked just as well.

    But not five stars worth, IMO. The first act, where Cal rescues Aphrodite and they save the world from mind-controlling insects, is excellent, the characters developing and interacting, the battle scenes not so totally out of control as to suffocate the life out of the story. But as things progress through Cal trying to play it straight and become a hero in his own right, the action does get too excessive, and the plot starts to slog into obviousness.

    It ends up at 3 1/2 stars for me, but since I can't rate it with a 1/2 star, I'm giving it 4 overall, to account for the good characterization and humor, and 3 for story, which is where it bogs down over the latter half. Still, a good choice for audiobook, where humor can be captured by the narrator (good job of that, though only four stars because of the raspy voice, slightly grating and not exactly appropriate for Cal). And if I get the chance, I will listen to the D-List prequel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Disaster Artist: My Life inside 'The Room', the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell
    • Narrated By Greg Sestero
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (185)
    Performance
    (177)
    Story
    (178)

    Nineteen-year-old Greg Sestero met Tommy Wiseau at an acting school in San Francisco. Wiseau's scenes were rivetingly wrong, yet Sestero, hypnotized by such uninhibited acting, thought, "I have to do a scene with this guy." That impulse changed both of their lives. The Disaster Artist is Greg Sestero's laugh-out-loud funny account of how Tommy Wiseau defied every law of artistry, business, and friendship to make "the Citizen Kane of bad movies" (Entertainment Weekly), which is now an international phenomenon.

    marcus says: "It Starts coming Together"
    "A View of The Room"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Greg Sestero narrates the book he co-wrote about the cult movie The Room and its eccentric creator, Tommy Wiseau. With the help of journalist-novelist Tom Bissell, Sestero goes back and forth between two stories -- detailed descriptions of the shooting of The Room, and his own journey as an aspiring actor and longtime pre-Room friend of Wiseau.

    I've been an aficionado of cult films since midnight movie became popular in the early 70s -- Pink Flamingos, El Topo, Eraserhead, and of course Rocky Horror, which still endures. And I remember the Golden Turkey awards and its companion film festival, celebrating movies that are so bad that they're good, Plan 9 and its auteur Ed Wood the perennial winners of worst movie and worst director ever.

    So I was all over The Room once I heard about it. The Room stands apart from other cult films because of the, er, unusual personality of Tommy Wiseau, its writer-director-producer-financier-star. One requisite element of hilariously bad movies is their absolute earnestness -- you can't do this on purpose. As told by Sestero in this book, Tommy is as earnest as they come, in his fractured manner, and he is every bit the character in real life as his alter-ego Johnny is in the movie, even in the years before he conceived his misguided vanity film.

    It is often the case that these movies are more fun to talk about, read about, hear about, than to actually sit through. That is certainly true of Ed Wood, the Johnny Depp movie about the director, which is a far more fascinating tale than the one he created. The Disaster Artist is likewise as much fun, if not more so, than the actual movie. Sestero totally nails Tommy's accent, his malapropisms, his totally warped world view, and the jaw-drop reactions of those who work with him.

    And he is just as earnest in believing himself to be everything that Tommy is not, despite his own acting career being as much of a disaster. His condescending attitude and narration become an exercise in meta-humor, Sestero himself coming off as a hilariously bad actor and writer, as oblivious as Tommy. I usually bristle when I hear a narrator barely masking his laughter at his own subject, but in this case, it is as much of a reflection on Sestero as it is on his subject, his "friend" Tommy Wiseau.

    You probably have to be at least somewhat familiar with The Room to appreciate this book. It really helps to have some idea in advance of what Tommy looks and sounds like and just how out there he is. There are some good clips on YouTube that highlight the best (worst) of The Room that you can watch quickly, and then you can savor this gem of an audiobook.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Jasper Fforde
    • Narrated By Elizabeth Jasicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (134)
    Performance
    (123)
    Story
    (119)

    In the good old days, magic was indispensable - it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians - but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer.

    Kimberly says: "Sweet YA Story"
    "Ffunny Ffantasy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Jasper Fforde has proven his mastery of the alternate universe with his Thursday Next series (and the related Nursey Crime series), imagining a world where literature is intimately intertwined with reality (his alternate version of reality). With The Last Dragonslayer, Fforde creates an alternate universe where magic, dragons, kings and home improvement coexist uneasily in present-day England, hamstrung by government bureaucracy, an omnivorous media, corporate manipulation, and rising real estate prices.

    As original as Thursday Next's world is, humorously applying the conventions of detective novels to a setting where the boundaries between literature and reality are blurred, the idea of placing magical beings in modern day society is hardly a new one -- way overdone, in fact. But Fforde pulls it off thanks to his impeccable sense of humor and comic timing. If you like Monty Python, you'll like Fforde -- he even has a short riff on the ethics of turning people into newts, an almost overt nod to MP and the Holy Grail.

    If I have one minor bone to pick -- and why I stop short of going to five stars -- it's that once the plot kicks in, supplanting the detailed background on The Last Dragonslayer's alternate universe that occupies the first few hours, the joke quotient shrinks, and that's a shame, because the jokes are so good. The last few chapters wrap up way too quickly, which may only have been a problem because I wanted them to last longer -- but there are additional entries in the series, so that won't be a problem for very long.

    I'm reminded when I listen to a book like this why I love listening to humorous fiction in audio -- why bother with any other genre? (Although of course I'll keep going back to the others.) This is certainly the one type of book where, indisputably, the voice in your earbuds has better comic timing and better dialects than the voice in your head. At least, if the narrator is doing a good job -- and Elizabeth Jasicki does an excellent job as the voice of Fforde's teenage heroine, Jennifer Strange.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heft

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Liz Moore
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne, Keith Szarabajka
    Overall
    (1789)
    Performance
    (1619)
    Story
    (1623)

    Forrmer academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career - if he can untangle himself from his family drama.

    Kathy says: "I couldn't stop listening"
    "Lightweight Character Study"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Heft gets off to a promising start. Arthur Opp, an obese shut-in, begins to explain to us how he got so lonely that his only remaining relationship is with binge eating. That was me about 30 years ago, watching my waist line grow proportionally to my heartbreak after the bad end to an important relationship. So I was very interested in seeing how author Liz Moore would develop Arthur's character relative to my own experience.

    Unfortunately, Arthur's narration is soon supplanted by that of a Westchester County high school boy, and Heft turns into a YA novel about dealing with an alcoholic mother, snobby schoolmates, and being an accomplished and popular multi-sport athlete. (Sound of loud record scratch!) Wait -- "dealing" with being a popular high school athlete? Yes. OK, Kel's single mother is a major problem, but everyone else around him loves him and supports him through that struggle, even when he acts out. What's the story here?

    The narrative eventually shifts back to Arthur as he takes baby steps to address his situation, thanks in large part to the arrival of a perky pregnant teenage housekeeper, as well as a letter from his past. But his segments grow shorter as Kel's drone on and on. This is major missed opportunity number one, abandoning Arthur. Number two, there is the opportunity for a significant study of fatherhood that is never explored to the same depth as, say, what Arthur is eating or why Kel wants to pursue baseball instead of college.

    Which leads to major missed opportunity number three. Moore does give us a couple of detailed listings of Arthur's binge meals, but she never really develops a compelling metaphor. Sure, he eats because he's lonely, but this is literature, please take it a little past the obvious. Or, being a former English teacher who has an enduring crush on one of his students, maybe expand on the brief mentions of literary works that the student got so wrong and how that affected Arthur's affection for her.

    Which brings me to this: Writing reviews for Audible, I feel bad about having to recommend not listening to a book. I know, I have to just be honest, but still... So I will close this review by heartily recommending The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, which is also about a lonely man who has given up on life and love only to find it through an unlikely turn of events -- events similar to those in Heft. More than anything else, Zevin sticks with her protagonist, as Moore should have done with Arthur Opp, and makes the most of her central metaphor, the love of books.

    I have to add a note about the narration. Both narrators (one doing Arthur, one doing Kel) are perfectly fine. But the book is written with frequent breaks, sometimes after one- or two-sentence paragraphs. There is a pause of a couple or three seconds at every break. This totally disrupts the flow of the narrative, annoyingly. There isn't even the need for these breaks, as the next paragraph often is a direct continuation of the preceding one. Bad choice, very bad choice, by both author and the director of the audio version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Park Service: Book One of the Park Service Trilogy

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Ryan Winfield
    • Narrated By Michael Braun
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (188)
    Performance
    (176)
    Story
    (176)

    In the post-apocalyptic future, a fifteen-year old boy stumbles on a paradise where the few remaining humans live on the run from deadly drones controlled by a mysterious Park Service. Now this boy must learn to survive in a world he never dreamed existed while searching for answers to why everything he was taught is a lie.

    AudioBookReviewer says: "Epic YA Adventure in a dystopian Future"
    "Serviceable Tale Grows in the Telling"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've been disappointed by a few books that start out well and then start dropping stars as they unfold. The Park Service goes in the other direction. It begins the same formula as other YA dystopian novels -- teenager living in a post-apocalyptic underground bunker (cf Wool, Mockingjay), insecure in his unique abilities (cf. Divergent, Hunger Games), faces a test that will determine his place in society (cf. Divergent, The Giver), places higher than expected because of his unique abilities.

    Yawn! Been there, done that. But then Aubrey, as the boy is named, is released into the real world by accident and discovers the true nature of his world. And The Park Service starts to get progressively more interesting from there. Not because it suddenly takes an original turn, still adhering to the formula of this genre in which Aubrey becomes the unlikely hero who exposes and tries to correct the realities of his dystopian society.

    No, what makes it work are the moral themes author Ryan Winfield introduces, some in the form of dilemmas that Aubrey faces -- social injustice, environmental injustice, the noble savage vs. hard science, social structures built on the promise of heaven, and humanism. I found myself wavering trying to grasp where Winfield was coming down on these issues, trying to discern if there was a hidden agenda here, but I couldn't find one -- he presents all sides of each issue, and ultimately allows humanism to win the day.

    Having bought The Park Service from Audible's Hidden Gems sale, I'd have to agree in the end that this far less well known entry in the popular canon of YA dystopian fiction lives up that billing, despite its pedestrian first half. An interesting listen for old adults like me, a good thematically-based science fiction action adventure for young adults.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • You're Next

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Gregg Hurwitz
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2846)
    Performance
    (2424)
    Story
    (2409)

    Mike Wingate had a rough childhood  —  he was abandoned at a playground at four years old and raised in foster care. No one ever came to claim him, and he has only a few, fragmented memories of his parents. Now, as an adult, Mike is finally living the life he had always wanted  —  he’s happily married to Annabel, the woman of his dreams; they have a precocious eight-year-old daughter, Kat.

    Janice says: "Edge of my seat."
    "Best Two Out of Three"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Gregg Hurwitz was 1-1 with me. I liked Tell No Lies for its group therapy setting, but I didn't care for The Survivor, just another Liam Neeson script. I said I'd give him another chance to prove which was the exception, which was the rule. Glad I did, because You're Next did not disappoint -- not quite as good as Tell No Lies, but way better than The Survivor in almost every way.

    There's always a gimmick with Hurwitz, an opening gambit that kicks off the proceedings in a distinct way, establishing a springboard for plot, characterization, and themes. At least, that is the case given my sample size of three. In Tell No Lies, group therapy. In The Survivor, and man about to commit suicide is forced to save the lives of others, that conceit being the best part of a book that goes down hill from there.

    You're Next sets the stage in the same straightforward way: four-year-old Mike is abandoned in a playground by his father, who has just apparently killed his mother, and he is forced to grow up in a sketchy foster home, bedeviled and befriended by ne'er-do-wells. This past continually comes back to haunt him, to the point where he even has to put his own daughter into foster care with the promise to do for her what his father failed to do for him -- come back to get him.

    Now a family man himself, his past long suppressed, he suddenly finds himself the target of some seriously evil dudes, evil dudes smart enough to make the police think Mike is the seriously evil dude, hence launching your standard double chase. Problem is, Mike has not a clue what these dudes want from him, what they want him for -- in Hitchcockian terms, what the mcguffin is, which is important only to the point where the reader/viewer/listener believes that the bad guys are fully committed to the mcguffin, whatever it may be.

    The main plot driver is the unfolding of that particular mystery. There are no surprise twists, only the one major reveal and some ancillary reveals that stem from it. Rather than a twisty turny road that careers and careens in different directions, this route is pretty much a straight line, but one with unexpected scenery along the way. And as always in a Hurwitz, some good action.

    Hurwitz doesn't get sucked too far into his mcguffin or any of his red herring mcguffins, but there is nevertheless some interesting subtext within the foster home setting, his current job building green homes, political corruption, and in the context of the mystery (which I shall not reveal). Nothing overt, which is good. Maybe open to criticism for being to thin, but I felt he drew an appropriate line and stuck to it.

    There also happens to be one great character here. Not the protagonist Mike, who is serviceable enough but not a franchise character, but his sidekick, Shep, a bullied foster brother who grows into a criminal savant, an expert safecracker who loves the challenge of thievery, and who lives by a code of loyalty and stamina which he has imparted to Mike.

    Unfortunately, narrator Scott Brick gives Shep a comic book voice that detracts from the person he is, which shines through nevertheless on the strength of Hurwitz's characterization. Brick is his usual self, tolerable at 1.25x speed, overworked to a higher degree than that. He needs a break, so that we can get a break.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Timbuktu

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Paul Auster
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    Overall
    (201)
    Performance
    (158)
    Story
    (160)

    Mr. Bones, the canine hero of this astonishing book, is the sidekick and confidant of Willy G. Christmas, a brilliant and troubled homeless man from Brooklyn. As Willy's body slowly expires, he sets off with Mr. Bones for Baltimore in search of his high-school English teacher and a new home for his companion. Mr. Bones is our witness during their journey, and out of his thoughts, Paul Auster has spun one of the richest, most compelling tales in American fiction.

    Dubi says: "Should I Have Said Gehrig?"
    "Should I Have Said Gehrig?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There's an old joke about a man taking a dog into a bar claiming his dog can talk. To prove it, he asks, "How is life?" Dog says, "Rough!" "What's over our head?" Dog says, 'Roof!" "Who's the greatest ballplayer ever?" Dog says, "Ruth!" The bartender throws them out. On the sidewalk, the dog turns to the man and says, "Should I have said Gehrig?" The joke works not only because we're surprised to learn the dog can really talk, but also because we know dogs respond to humans in other ways -- we buy into the the joke because it's perfectly reasonable for the dog to bark out answers that sound like "Ruff!" right on cue.

    Paul Auster's stock in trade in language. He is (rightly) not concerned with scientific rigor. So his main character, a dog named Mr. Bones, has a fluent understanding of English (almost fluent -- for some bizarre reason, he mangles the word English itself -- and he can't speak, only comprehend English). It's not that I'm unwilling to buy into this metaphor (although I do resent being told to do so within the text -- I can get it on my own). But as a longtime dog owner and lover, I would have found it far more interesting for Mr. Bones's understanding of humans to be based on reality -- empathy, emotion, body language, social hierarchy.

    Nevertheless, as a longtime dog owner and lover, I was thoroughly enjoying Auster's short novel through its midpoint, willing to suspend my disbelief over Mr. Bones's language skills. That's because the story, despite being told from the point of view of the dog, was about a man, his owner. It even made sense that he could understand what his owner was saying after lifelong companionship with him. Willy is an interesting character. I wanted to know more about how he came to be a lost soul, and I wanted to hear more of his rants, the high point of the book being the two extended rants Auster allows him to give us.

    I was also looking forward with anticipation to Willy locating his mentor, an English teacher, whom he hoped would care for Mr. Bones after his imminent death. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the story takes a wrong turn when Willy dies, leaving Mr. Bones to seek new owners on his own. I fully understand what Auster was doing by having Mr. Bones find owners who are the opposite of Willy. I just found it overly facile, and not nearly as interesting as Willy himself or the prospect of Mr. Bones (and me) meeting the English teacher.

    In short, like the talking dog who chose Ruth over Gehrig, Auster chose to pursue the wrong owners to take in Mr. Bones, abandoning Willy and his teacher.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.