I never knew where Scott Westerfeld was going to take this action-packed story. As an adult reading a YA title, I have to say that I was constantly irritated by our heroine, who starts out self-absorbed, self-pitying, insecure. You can count on her to always make the worst move. At the end of the whole series, in my opinion, she has not matured a whit. So why five stars? Because the author is so darned good; lovely similes page-turning plotting, and intelligent handling of complexity. He has created a very real world that we want to know more about. Our narrator also does a lovely job. Oh, one quirk I am not sure Westerfeld noticed when he was doing his plotting: Our heroine, Tally when in trouble, which is all the time, has an amusingly predictable response... and that is: "Jump!"
While still enjoyable, Mr. Wood's 4th foray into the adventures of Victor the Assassin seem to be a bit rushed. There is less plot complexilty and more shallow "chase scene" writing. Victor spends less time using his brain and more time dodging many many bullets. His lady friend is a big flaw: Is she a mentally ill shrew? Is she a moody 14-year-old? Is she wise in the ways of the world? Take your pick from page to page. We are at a loss to figure out Victor's protective feeling toward her.
Another problem is that Victor "Keeps his promises". Well, when it suits the plot; otherwise he lies like a rug, as he has in past and better installments of this saga.
I did think the way he tied together the first part of the book and the very last paragraph was just delicious. I will certainly read the next installment, in hopes that this lazy business was an abberation.
Frederick Forsyth is a masterful writer. This is as much a police procedural as a thriller. It never bores or flags in its pace. To listen to this is to understand why it was the perfect subject for a movie (twice) with its straightforward story. The only mystery is how he hid the rifle and the only twist is one of identity and yet the plot engrosses totally.
And hand-wringing, bosom-beating romance with an ending predictable withing the first few minutes of listening. The narrator was fine but could have toned down the angst with a flatter reading of our heroine's endless tormented monologues. I care about the environment, but Howey's approach has the pessimistic and defeatist tone of 1950's British science fiction.
I guessed the ending within the first half-hour of listening and even particular upcoming lines of dialog were utterly predictable.
I found that even the pleasant romance could not save a very silly story.
Sometimes the movie (3 Days of the Condor) is almost as good as the book. In this case, and In some ways, the movie is better: more complex, grittier. Still, this is an excellent first novel by James Grady (Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 is another best seller) that is fast, taut and well written.
This is the first of 4 books. This one is good, and by book four, I am giving 5 stars.
Juvenile dialog, pretty good writing, and MASTERFUL action scenes. Unlike Ben Coes or Mark Greany, Tom Wood really knows how to write a believable and nail-biting action scene that does not take you out of the moment with cartoonish stupidity or technical inaccuracy.
Victor is a great creation, and pretty consistent in his actions and most but not all of what he says.
The writing is pretty good, with the occasional dangling participle but very smooth syntax. The silly dialog improves bit by bit in the next 3 books (yes, there are more!) and Victor becomes more sympathetic while the CIA becomes less evil. I would remind Rob Shapiro, the narrator, that the word is "prostrate", not "Prostate"-- an error he repeats in the next book in the series. Shapiro is good, but I wish he would tone down the querulous whining and let the dialog carry some of the load.
Often, when an author paints his beleaguered hero into a "how will he ever get out of this?" corner, the escape is disappointingly unbelievable. But no Deus Ex Machina here, Tom Wood comes up with some very clever solutions, stratagems, and twists.
Tom Wood is intelligent. I like that in an author. Some of what gets published today is really lowest common denominator stuff, but here we have logic and believability.
If you like this first book about Victor, you are in for a treat, as they keep getting better, and Wood gets better at keeping you guessing.
Obviously more coming
Michael Z. Williamson "Freehold" series for Buetner's "Orphan" series for combat and social awareness.
My Gosh! Stop with the stereotypical raspy voice for almost all military.
Can't stay awake that long, or I would.
Read "Terms of Enlistment" first, if you can, although this novel does well enough as a stand-alone. Marko Kloos has revealed himself as quite the subversive, and I approve! He seems to think that sometimes, a society will endure a time when it is not the cream that rises to the top, but the ... well, you know.
In the first book of this series (may there be many more!) Grayson is a callow youth; not stupid, mind you, just living in a black and white world. He is optimistic in a world that is falling apart. In "Lines" he has begun to realize that he is those at the top are behaving with perverse stupidity, and he slowly comes to know that he has to do something about it or lose his self respect.
A weakness of the book is Kloos aliens: what makes them tick. Why are they so powerful and yet so apparently stupid. Humans are cockroaches to them, such is their technological superiority. They wipe us out like we would fumigate termites, and as easily. But I don't know of any termites that can band together to kill humans, or burn down a house rather than let you move in. The aliens inscrutability is taken too far. Wouldn't they make more effort to stop us from fighting back if they are so powerful? Maybe Kloos will explain this in the next book.
And there better be a next book. Our hero is likable and the writing is smooth and professional.
But please, again, narrator Luke Daniels, stop with the constricted throat rasping voice for all ground troops except our hero and his girlfriend. Even Sergeant Brianna sounds like a weight lifter. And apparently all the pilots speak in a rapid monotone or with a Tennessee twang. Oh, another choice for soldiers is that some sound like Squiggy from Lavern and Shirley. There are about 5 exaggerated voices that are used over and over again. Gets really annoying.
Having been so mean to our Narrator, let me say that his performance choices are very important, and can change the quality of the book. Luke Daniels is good! Just never let him do military voices again unless he broadens his repertoire.
The narrator has about 3 voices and 2 accents. He does not serve the material well. The characters are not developed. The moral qualms of the soldiers are unrealistic in the situation as described. Too many characters who are not anchored by time and place and personality. Poor writing. I can't give it one star because the spelling was fine.
I love Lee Child's writing, and his observations and asides still enchant. I almost never give a pass to unrealistic situations but somehow when Reacher uncovers byzantine conspiracies and ends up out of touch and out of reach in a Corner of Nowhere despite this being an extremely connected society... I go along. I don't know why I cut Child so much slack. Perhaps it is because I love the "Stranger comes to Town" trope.
I just the author would get back to more grounded situations. The villains were faceless. We never get to know them. That can work, but here it just makes the conflict oddly bloodless despite all the blood.
Oddly David Baldacci's "Zero Day" has been called a Jack Reacher homage, and I find "A Wanted Man" to be weirdly evocative of "Zero Day", and I know that is either a strange coincidence... or a conspriacy!
One final note on action and violence: way way to little. Reacher never even punches someone in the stomach till near the end of the book. I appreciate that he is a detective unraveling a mystery, but he is a very large, very strong detective who knows how to fight dirty. The best fight is the one you walk away from--- unless you're a thriller writer.
Half as Good as "Beat the Reaper" which still places it very high on my list. Does not have the intensity or pace of BTR, but is still well-written. I am not rating based on Bazell's Politics. I am not rating his views on Global warming. I am rating the writing and the story. If I can stomach Steven Hunter for the sake of his great story-telling ability, then I suggest "Wild Thing" is just as tasty a dish even if you don't like the color of the napkin. Actually, I think he treated Palin with mild whimsy, compared to Captain Bonobo (Obama) in Hunter's "Soft Target".
I do wish we had stayed on the cruise ship for the whole book. Imagine the fun he could have had. After BTR, you never want to go near a hospital again. Just think of what Josh could have done with our desire to take a nice cruise.
The Narration was great. If it bothers you, beware the profanity
If you like your humorous revenge psychopathic, this is the story for you. Before there was Dexter, there was Serge, and he isn't fooling anybody. He's your (vastly hyper and annoying) friend for life... unless you're a jerk... then you're dead! In some elaborate and hilarious way. I love the way Dorsey weaves together disparate strands into his typical explosive climaxes. He is a careful plotter and a very clever writer. Love it.
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