The good: Language is poetic and beautiful. The setting is charming and romantic. The narrator is artful and great to listen to. Considered to be a modern "classic" and it is clear why; the storyline is very telling of the time in America (1986) when this book was written.
The bad: Overall, book is inappropriate for religious, younger or emotionally sensitive readers. Suspense is formulaic. Plot does not ring true. Dialogue tends to drone on without developing character or advancing plot. Characters are not sympathetic and remain undeveloped; without being told who is speaking, reader cannot tell them apart just by their personalities, even by the end of the book. Main character is whiny and one-dimensional, and waxes on about irrelevant details for minutes at a time. Melodrama abounds. The last third of the book is botched and about 1/3 too long.
My personal verdict: Can't recommend this one unless you appreciate soap operas, as referenced in my review title. I'm glad I read it since it is considered a modern classic, but the CliffsNotes would have substituted just fine, and with less of a time waste. But especially, don't give it to your religious friend or your kids. There are some wildly racy scenes, and themes, in this book.
I got this book because of the great reviews, but was concerned that it would be a bragging session with some humanitarian "look how much I care" and then the SEAL "look how strong I am." We've all read those before, and they end up leaving the reader very irritated.
This was thankfully not the case. While Greitens discusses his own accomplishments, he seems to use himself and his own story as a vessel to spread some very interesting ideas about how to think about war, strength, and even improve the government and military. When I finished this, I found myself wondering why Greitens wasn't promoted into a higher post than Navy SEAL. If some of his "superiors" (if they can so be called) read his book, they may do just that.
The accounts of the trials leading up to becoming a SEAL were staggering and gave me the utmost respect for those who do make it. For those who don't, it's still a damn impressive feat to try.
Highly recommend this one - it's a quick, easy read that you won't be able to put down.
Love Edward Hermann (Unbroken), wanted to check out John Updike. As usual, Hermann has got the narration exactly right, and the descriptive writing makes me want to read more of Updike. The story drags just a tad toward the end, but the language is well worth it. The description of the scene is wonderful. A great 13 minutes of my walk today was spent listening to this.
A nice biography for people who know nothing about China and like a good story that ends well.
- Overall a nice rags-to-riches, well-tied up story. You won't find many surprises here, but it will satisfy and is appropriate for kids - though kids younger than 10 or 11 might get lost.
- The political commentary and historical events seen through the eyes of the narrator, combined with the observations on American vs. Chinese cultures, are telling.
- First ~3 hours of the story is a summary of the narrator's childhood, which is uneventful for the most part except for some social commentary on the state of Chinese peasant life. For readers, happy childhoods are not typically interesting enough to warrant this much time. Fast forwarding through most of this will do you no harm in understanding the rest of the story.
- Story is riddled by instances of deus ex machina: The main character's major struggles are conveniently solved by hands of Providence (or in his case, the President of the United States - yawn) which reach down at the last minute to save him.
- Cliche ("scared out of my wits") phrases abound here. I seek new and fresh metaphors, so I'll admit a bias. This may not bother some readers/listeners.
- Main character, who is also the author, comes across as spoiled and pompous at times, which reduces his credibility and thus the reader's sympathy.
Good story, but not in my Top 10.
Another reviewer "hit the nail on the head" comparing this to a beach read. I somehow finished this book, but regret wasting my time.
Characters are not developed enough for the listener/reader to feel sympathy for them or care about their fates; cliches are used frequently (i.e. scared to death, I felt like I was hit by a ton of bricks) which betray a lazy author; the plot line builds but does not deliver on its promise; the main character is stereotypical, inconsistent and fabricated; the sinister leadership of the nation of Pannem (spelling? don't care if this is wrong) is not fleshed out and the reader does not understand the landscape that the characters live in...
I could go on and on about the flaws in this book. But just a warning will suffice: if you are looking for anything of substance, skip this before you waste your time and a perfectly good credit.
This audiobook is the audiobook for people who hate audiobooks. It converted my boyfriend, who has the attention span of a ferret with ADD. We listened to it while on a road trip through Mexico, and he actually refused to stop driving and pull over for sightseeing a few times so that we could keep listening.
Fantastic. Just get it. You won't regret it.
I was considering this book for my father, who loves history and war stories. However, he is very religious and will not accept bad language, too much violence or graphic scenes of sexuality. I was concerned about all of these because of the war theme, so I thought well, I'll listen to it first to make sure.
Boy, I'm glad I did. This book is a real treat, and the narrator is absolutely perfect for the story; a gravelly, powerful voice full of drama and expression. He even pauses during dramatic parts, adding suspense. I enjoyed his style so much that I checked around for other books that he's narrated.
The Verdict for anyone wondering the same thing for their religious fathers: I would rate this book PG on the brink of PG-13 if you count a few curse words. Even these are peppered in to explain other themes, provide context or add drama (after all, this is a war book). They are not pervasive or distracting.
I wanted to enjoy this book. The Kite Runner audiobook (the version narrated by the author) is astounding, and I blew threw that one in a week - the author narrated it with such passion and emotion that I was enveloped for hours at a time.
I listened to the sample before purchasing this book, but wish I had paid attention to the reviews about the narration. The narrator in this book reads dialogue and narrative in the same monotone, and gives every sentence the same cadence. Although it is nice that she can pronounce the names and places, it is not enough.
I would only recommend this book if you are on a long, uneventful drive through a foreign country and long to hear your own language spoken in any way at all. But if you're in the market for an awesome listen, try The Help or Unbroken, both of which have excellent narrators and wonderful writing.
Excellent audiobooks are 50% good writing and 50% good narration. If either of these is lacking, the other cannot make up for it. This book suffers greatly from the former. Much to my disappointment, I couldn't finish it.
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