I'm a pretty hard man to please but I have to concur with the other reviewers here. Not only is this a great read/listen -- it is without a doubt one the top five audiobooks I've listened to in the last couple years.
The sight, smell, agony and pain of watching someone slowly die are woven throughout this book. Did Stephen chose to use Danny to explore his own painful experiences with watching someone close to him die? I read and saw the Shining as a kid so I was familiar with the character of Danny. Rather than build up on that book, King plucks a familiar character out and sets him up as a vehicle to explore some really painful territory -- the main themes being death, child abuse and drug addiction. Danny works in a hospice. The villains are addicted to their own special drug which only children possess. (Anyone else see middle aged drug culture here? - folks who live high to high, have stupid nicknames, take terrible care of their children and always need a fresh supply of younger kids around to slow their aging.)
All this would be fine if the book weren't excruciatingly paced, predictable and boring as all get out. There's a part in the book where a bunch of characters engage in some pretty intense villain fighting and then stop to explain to another character everything that just happened/I just read. Everyone here is good or bad. The good people have to go West to fight the bad people. A group of strangers bands together to fight evil -- an evil centuries old. Children are the victims of bad adults and sometimes that causes them to be evil themselves.
As for death: I didn't like the movie Amour and I didn't like the constant hospice stuff here. There seems to be some fetish for stories about dying in hospice -- and I suspect this is more evident among people that have never personally witnessed it.
I can't understand that rave reviews for this book! I bought this as a road trip book -- so I was expecting a bit of fluff -- but the writing is absolutely atrocious. The action/mystery itself is pretty engaging, but the the places in between are excruciatingly dull and insipid. We found ourselves fast-forwarding through much of this. Maybe it's me, but at some points can you just faintly hear the narrator's disdain for the material? Something is going on with all these wildly positive reviews -- I feel duped!
This is by far one of the five best audiobooks I have ever listened to. I have been constantly seeking out good audiobooks for the past decade. I've listened to everything from scifi to history to classics and this one absolutely has it all:
1. A Great Story. Unbelievable story no fiction could ever hope to come close to replicating. You just can't make this stuff up.
2. The Best History/Poli Sci. Great insight and analysis. Incredibly well written.
3. Tabloidy Tabloidiness. I hate TMZ as much as the next person, but when people that are supposed to be the finest example of what our nation has to offer are throwing around fbombs like this - I love it. There were so many moments where I just sat there - mouth agape - thinking holy jeez these people are insane. You come away thinking one reason Obama won is that he was just the least insane.
4. West Wingyness. That inside the beltway perspective. You have to wonder why no one ever went straight to the staffers after previous elections.
5. Superb Narration.
I wish I could find more audiobooks like this one. There was absolutely never a time where I drifted off and had to rewind.
I think this could have been half as long. I was surprised to find myself fast forwarding at various points. As a Stones fan, I'm familiar with the lore and have heard some these anecdotes before. I could do without the insane amount of detail he goes into at some points on subjects that don't require it. At one point he emphasizes ten or fifteen times that the cocaine and heroin he was doing was "Pharmaceutical grade man" - I mean - he's really proud that his drugs were absolutely top of the line. Good for RS or Keith fans, but if you're not into sex, drugs and rock and roll - better skip this one.
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