This novel is hard to describe. Part murder mystery, part family tension, part self-aware writer's angst, this was definitely one of the best books I've listened to on Audible.
Here's an excerpt from this gem of an out of touch sermon:
"'Joyriding' is what today's teens call driving around aimlessly."
If the lecturing, conjecture, and whitewashing isn't enough to drive the listener away, the narration surely will. Truly awful narrator. Horrible. Pam Ward sounds like a grandmother talking to you about sanitary belts while clasping her hands together.
This is another one of those books that was obviously originally written as a screenplay. No studio wants to buy an X-Men rip-off, so Marcus Sakey gets it published as a book, probably because his father plays golf with someone important.
Marcus Sakey's Mary Sue is some guy named Cooper (Twin Peaks marathon during the editing phase). Cooper is so awesome, you guys. He's so smart and so special and so, ahem, brilliant that he can totally intuit everything you're thinking and planning just by your body language. I mean, I know there are FBI and CIA guys who do stuff like that according to that Discovery Channel thing that was playing in the background during the brainstorming phase of this novel, but Marcus Sakey, oops I mean Cooper is so much better than those losers. I mean, he's a step above everyone else on the evolutionary scale, you guys.
Marcus Sakey would also like everyone to know that Cooper is so intuitive and so OMG awesome that his super-powers make him like, super good in bed, ladies.
I tried. Really, I tried. Between the awful (really awful) fake Southern accent by the narrator and the droning on and on and on of old "haahhses" and how much the main character hates them with irrational rage, I mean Jesus this is both infuriating and boring.
Hey guys, I live in a beautiful home built in 1896. My original plaster walls are made of horsehair and oyster shells. Now, as a life-long Louisianian my love of old houses began with my grandmother, you see. She's an artist, and she too loves old houses. She bought a beautiful historic home in 1977 and restored it to it's original glory. Now, what a lot of people don't know (or appreciate) about old houses...
The above is what you pretty much get in this book. Nobody cares about how much you love old houses. Seriously. Please get to the murder mystery and stop smugly lecturing me about termites and wooden floors.
And as someone from New Orleans, I promise that single straight men who are writers do not live in the French Quarter. I haven't gotten far enough into the book for journalist Jack Trenholm to bust up our main character's chifferobe, but in real life he won't want to.
Did you know that the US actually had political dealings with the Middle East before 9/11? Do you need a five minute explanation on what exactly the word "history" means? Do you have such a narrow view on Arabic human beings that you need to be told that Arabs were most certainly NOT barbarians? Do you know that the Middle East has a rich history of art and culture? Do you know what algebra is? Are you aware that the Crusades were really kinda bad?
Oh, you're a functional adult who doesn't need to be spoken to like a fourth grader? Than this book isn't for you.
I'm not even one third through and I'm furious. This is a college level textbook? This is how textbook writers communicate to adults? This speaks a lot about higher education's view on their students' intelligence. I don't need to be told that camels actually DON'T carry water in their humps, contrary to what I read in last week's Sunday comics while my mom cut the crust off my peanut butter sandwich. And because I'm older than ten, I'm well aware than the US has had diplomatic relations with several Mideast countries for decades.
In my experience, crime and suspense dramas are rarely done well. We get the stock characters dancing a maypole around a Mary Sue hero, guns, awesomeness, lady parts, more awesomeness and stay tuned for the next chapter because it's nothing but series these days!
Adrian McKinty follows the same formula, but his books are genuinely well written. Dead I May Well Be is a great book about crime and revenge set in 1992 New York that takes us on an honest to God adventure, complete with a stint in a Mexican prison.
Super fun book as always!
This wasn't a good book in the first place. Meandering, boring, repetitive, and just all around unpleasant and generally pointless. It wasn't terrible, but Allison Hiroto pretty much destroyed what little is here.
Like others have written, Ms. Hiroto speaks like she's narrating to children, which is not only annoying, but extremely off-putting. Especially when one gets to the gratuitous and pointless sex scenes. To steal another reviewers take on it, listening to this really is like hearing a preschool teacher read Penthouse to 4-year-olds. It's gross and weird.
I've seen some terrible theater in my time. And I've listened to some terrible books, but this performance of Romeo and Juliette is like listening to everything horrible edited down to two hours of insanity.
I knew I was in trouble when Romeo started speaking... The actor speaks with an American accent, which isn't so bad when you think about it. It's not like these characters are really English in the first place, right? But when one actor sounds like the cockney-est bootblack to ever scrub your chimney and another sounds like some dude from Chicago their interactions make you want to hurl your phone into the sun just to make it stop.
Then there's the nurse. Holy crap that's awful. Like, super freaking awful. Probably the worst thing I've ever heard, worse than slamming a car door on a cat's tail. Who ever this "actress" is MUST have been cast straight out of De Sade's asylum. Grating, loud, giggling, it sounds like they recorded this woman right after she gargled with crazy.
I'm so glad this was free. But now I want to burn my phone.
I can only surmise the author was independently wealthy before this book was written, or it would have been completely overhauled before its publication. While very well written, nothing really happens that we as the audience particularly care about. A mysterious explosion on a transatlantic ship, stolen jewels and hidden gold! A murder on an overcrowded lifeboat filled with peril!
All of this comes up in this book, but not a single thing is addressed with any satisfaction. The main character, Grace is supposed to be the typical unreliable narrator, but character development is so weak throughout everyone in this book that Grace comes off as having the personality of a shoe instead of unhinged, calculating, devious or even strong. Instead of suspense or mystery we get a platform for the author to explain her politics. Women were unequal to men in 1914! (gasp) Women couldn't vote or even serve on juries! (I'm shocked) Men wrote laws that governed women! (oh the injustice)
What saves this book is the pretty excellent writing, poor character development aside. But I was disappointed that what was described as a mystery thriller was actually a diatribe on gender politics of the early 20th century. And being an educated person with average brain function, I sort of already knew that it wasn't kosher.
I've listened to some of the worst books imaginable before, but this novel is King of Terrible Fiction. Some of it is likely due to Scott Brick's (typical) overly emotional delivery, but sweet Baby Jesus this is bad.
"Kaylie could pull out and answer her cell phone with a speed that would intimidate Wyatt Earp."
"If women who looked like that were ever that close to him when he was thirteen, he'd have an erection for a week."
"...all following around the celebrity and snapping pictures of him as though he were Charlie Sheen sneaking into a monastery."
Seriously? That last line doesn't even come close to making a bit of sense. I've listened to a total of 30 minutes, and there's no way I'm wasting more of my time. Horrible narration, revolting writing.
This is one of those books, though not at all bad, you'll forget as soon as you're done listening. The characters are a little weak and the story is sort of boring, but it's a great first attempt at a novel from the writer.
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