If there was a dictionary entry for "formula writing" this book could be used for the illustration. I already knew that Jodi Picoult's books all follow the same formula: a moral and/or environmental issue, family drama and then courtroom drama. This book had all of those plus some interesting information about wolves that was hopefully based on fact and research.
Even so, the plot was both preposterous and predictable. Definitely not one of her best books, not even remotely convincing on any level.
But it worked great as a "palate cleanser" between good books. As was discussed recently on the great podcast, "Books on the Night Table" -- sometimes we just need a book we have low expectations for to read after we finish a truly remarkable book to kind of cleanse the palate before tackling another really good book to avoid comparisons.
Told through sarcastic letters of support written by a professor for his mostly lackluster student to prospective employers, graduate programs and academic colleagues, the premise sounded like a fun read. I was disappointed by how short the book was and also how slim the "plot" was. There is a story that gradually unfolds, but it isn't much. The book is mostly cleverly worded rants and complaints, kind of fun, but I hoped for more substance. If I'd looked more closely and seen it was under 4 hours (most audio books I listen to are 15-30 hours) I wouldn't have used an Audible.com credit for it. Seems like it would have been better as a short story in the New Yorker.
I wish I could unread this one. Bleak, depressing, a cat and many children are killed. Once the story got underway after the first confusing couple of chapters it was suspenseful, with many close calls and impossible escapes.But the scenes narrated by the sick serial killer as he stabs and guts a small child with great excitement were nauseating. I kept listening against my better judgment because I assumed, given the good reviews, that the ending would make it worth it. But it wasn't. The plot twist at the end is completely absurd and as a result the whole plot made no sense. Big waste of time immersed in despair amidst despicable people.
Billy Crystal is a nice man, a loving husband and father and grandfather, a good friend to many. Got it. But I did not enjoy this "book" which is more of a series of standup routines than chapters of a book (and in the audio version much of it is actually presented as a stand-up routine before a live audience).
I found myself cringing often throughout the book because of the TMI problem (too much information about his genitals and sexual urges that was meant to be funny but mostly wasn't--maybe it's a guy thing and male readers would enjoy it more) and because of the ageist humor. Despite his own aging, the book is full of stereotypes about aging, most of which really aren't even true of him: he and his wife are athletic and healthy. I also cringed at some of the humor based on Jewish stereotypes.
I finished the book respecting and appreciating Billy Crystal but this book not so much. Maybe I'm just the wrong demographic for it?
The best audiobook ever and one of the best books I've read. Even at around 33 hours I was sorry when the book ended. I loved it! The writing is exquisite but never pretentious with not a dull word. The descriptions of New York, Las Vegas, and Amsterdam made me feel I was there. Wonderfully drawn characters, mysteries and plot twists made it compelling and (mostly) enjoyable to keep reading (it wasn't exactly enjoyable feeling the despair the characters are mired in from time to time, but still compelling).
The narrator was absolutely fantastic, amazingly switching accents and tonalities of voice and gender from character to character, with each perfectly clear and different from the others.
If you moved the old TV show Happy Days to Ireland but replaced the soda shop with a doughnut shop, innocence and hope with cynicism and despair, and added drugs, sad sex (including pedophile priests and porn), and the worst of current pop culture instead of the best of 50s pop culture, you'd have an idea of why not to read Skippy Dies.
Skippy (playing the part of the Richie Cunningham character on Happy Days) is the only mildly likeable character but he dies on the first page. Squiggy has become a psychopath drug dealer, the Fonz (or maybe Potsie?) a pathetic science geek. All of their hopes and dreams are squashed as the book progresses.
The adults in the book (teachers, school administrators, and their spouses) are equally sad and hopeless and are unable to help themselves, let alone the young people.
So why has this book garnered rave reviews? Beats me. I'd read that the audiobook was the best way to read it because of it being read aloud by multiple actors with wonderful accents. That was a plus but still found it to be not an enjoyable read.
I am a sucker for courtroom dramas and well-written mysteries so this book appealed to me. There were enough surprises to keep me questioning the outcome and I found the characters (a D.A., his wife, and their teenage son) fairly believable, though not quite enough to give it 5 stars. There were a couple disturbing scenes relating to animal cruelty that I had to plug my ears to get past (if I was reading rather than listening would have just jumped a page or two ahead). It's hard to say more without giving away the story so I'll leave it at that.
I really enjoyed this book and thought it was both well-written and very well read aloud in the audio book. It was interesting to read after a recent listen to both Gone With the Wind and The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration.
It's a bit of an American Upstairs Downstairs story on a southern plantation with the twist of a white Irish girl whose parents died aboard the plantation owner's ship and so was brought back to be raised by his slaves and to work as an indentured servant at the age of 7.
Great story, great read (or listen in this case). The narrator did a great job.
It was a good deal in that it was very long for the 1 book credit. On the other hand, it wasn't all that great. If Murakami wasn't such a famous author I would guess an editor would have cut out half of the book. It was repetitive and the story was pretty silly.
I enjoyed the strong female character but felt the whole story was was pretty ridiculous.
I'm sure it could be made into a movie--it read like it was written to be ready to be a movie.
I'm glad I was listening and not putting in the hours reading the actual book! I would have really felt like I wasted my time if I had.
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