This is my first Wilbur Smith book, so i won't hold it against him, since he receives generally high praise for many of his other volumes.
Imagine your spouse's boss has invited you over for dinner with her and her husband. After a modest and unimpressive dinner, they insist on showing you vacation slides, and you feel obligated to stay. In the interminable parade of photos of people you don't know in places you've never been, every so often, an interesting pictures pops up, which keeps you from falling asleep, but on the whole, you'd rather just be done with it and back in your car, actually moving somewhere.
This was my experience with this book.
In an age of Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer, I imagine the protagonist of this book must be viewed as sympathetic or as an anti-hero in some sense, but without the release valve of some undamaged characters, I found this whole story dreary and unapproachable. I couldn't find a single person in the story to care about, and with 2 hours left, I was rooting for the main character to die and put me out my misery.
I enjoyed the story and the writing very much, until the last 5 hours or so. Near the end, I began to plead with my iPod to just get on with the end of the story. The tangential tide had come in, and the expository undertow was sucking me under. I also grew weary of the detailed and protracted descriptions of sexual encounters - all things in moderation.
Still, overall, an enjoyable listen.
After I finished listening to Forever Odd, I had to go back and listen to Odd Thomas just to see what it was that made me want to listen to Forever Odd. Then I thought maybe I had inadvertently downloaded an abridged version of Forever Odd, without the characteristic convolutions and engaging enigmas of a typical Koontz novel, but it really was just a short, flat, uninteresting book about some really interesting characters. If Koontz revisits Odd in a third book, go straight to that one from Odd Thomas.
OK, the narrator is awful. The only thing worse than his feminine voices was his ridiculous attempt at an English accent. He also has a habit of simply reciting words instead of reading the story; e.g., he says "he watched her smiling" when the text obviously reads "he watched her, smiling". Then there's the story. I enjoyed Preston's work with Lincoln Child on the Pendergast novels, but this story is a literary bas-relief - a story that merely suggests depth of charcters and plot, but doesn't deliver any real dimension. It was a good listen and seems well researched, but I wanted it to be better.
Liked it; didn't love it. It's definitely film noir fodder that should be printed on pulp paper, complete with an "I don't know..." monologue at the end. (Remember the last 10 minutes of Blade Runner?) I thought the world was well constructed, but it was 9 hours of story packed into 17 hours of listening that culminated in a disappointing "OK, spill!" exposition. And, although it clearly tails The Big Sleep, et al., this book packs none of the witty banter that makes Chandler so engaging. Morgan has apparnetly riddled his narrative with similes instead, like bullet holes in a getaway car on the business end of a Tommy gun. Also, the adolescently explicit sexual and gore scenes were self-consciously overdone. The whole thing could have used a sharp blue pencil, but generally enjoyable.
I found the description very misleading, as this turned out to be not much more than a Christian parable. Once I looked at his other books, I probably could have guessed that, though. Aside from flatly drawn characters that border on genuinely stupid, he also has a bit of a pronoun problem: "He walked up to a door. He wiped his face and opened it." If you want a "Ain't God great?" story, go ahead and listen, but "gut-wrenching"? Not so much.
I was going to write my own review, but I read Kirk from NC, and he has summed the book up brilliantly.
I would add that it feels to me like the author is a free verse poet trying to write a novel. She has created some surpassingly beuatiful and insightful passages here and there, but they are just stitched together too loosely to form an interesting narrative.
Truthfully, I only finished it because I has started it.
This is the third (and probably last) Margaret Atwood book I've read/listened to. From Surfacing and The Handmaid's Tale to Oryx and Crake, I have yet to find any of her work that can be described without using the word "bleak." She is clearly a writer of skill and depth, as well as renown, but reading her novels, for me, is like layering heavy blanket upon heavy blanket of despair, and I finish them only so I can throw off the accumulated weight. I always end up thinking she would be very much at home teaching a workshop in German Existentialsim, where the burden of our very existence is paralysing.
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