This is where I wish we could give two scores, one for narration and one for writing.
I was assigned The Heart of Darkness in high school and despised every minute of it. In fact, I have often referenced it as my most-abhorred book.
As an adult, I wanted to give the book a second chance, and I figured if I didn't like it with Kenneth Branagh narrating it, there was no hope for reconciliation. I figured that four hours was short enough a time to devote to this experiment.
Branagh gets an A+. The narration is impeccable. If you like this story, you're in for a treat.
Unfortunately, I still can't stand the book. I didn't agree with Conrad's premise as a kid and nothing has changed in the interim.
But, that's just me. If you like this story or want to experience it for the first time, this is in the upper echelon of audiobooks.
I have read pretty much every full-length novel CH has written. From Aurora Teagarden, to Harper Connelly, to Lily Bard, to Sookie Stackhouse. So, I've invested a fair amount of time and money into this author because I have found her books entertaining on some level. They aren't literature, but they have been entertaining fluff reads. Until now. I think she needed a break following the disaster of the final Sookie novel. I almost wish they could recall this book and reissue it in a year once it had been edited. I didn't know this book was going to be about Manfred and Bobo, and I was really excited! Except the writing and characters were so dull and flat, I couldn't even finish the book. Manfred was an awesome character in the Grave Sight books, and I just don't get what went wrong. It was like it was written to fulfill a contract without any joy or interest in the future books.
Ben Stiller's greatest gift is to show his depth without taking himself too seriously....it seems that when so many comedic actors decide to start being "serious", they turn mind-numbingly boring. This was a great combination of author-reader...the right blend of lightness and underlying melancholy.
Craig Johnson is doing a good job of managing the difficult task of keeping a series fresh. This installment manages to keep the humor and poignancy alive without retreading old material.
Usually this kind of ending will really bother me and possibly ruin the book. I found this ending perfectly suitable for the characters. I think this book is a nice capsule from start to finish. Don't impose too many requirements on it and just go for the ride.
I read a slew of reviews before launching into this book, so I knew what I was tackling.
I don't know if I dislike it because it is good or if I dislike it because it is bad or somehow...both.
While I definitely do not need or want stories to be puppies and unicorns, I am not sure what the point is of writing a story in which everyone is miserable.
I've been pretty darn miserable during sad lengths of my life, but I still knew plenty of people who were fundamentally happy. I made it through the dark patches and proceeded to be pretty happy. If there are communities out there in which every single person is completely miserable, the citizens should consider moving!
I was at 5-stars all around for this book right up until the last 20 minutes, during which the author and I had a significant difference of opinions about what should happen next!
The book is very charming, with great humor, characters, and narration. There are moments of Barbara Rosenblat's delivery that are both hilarious and timeless.
Alas, the ending doesn't work for me, but the rest of the book was lovely.
Maybe it picks up, but I found the first chapter unlistenable. I mean...just BAD. Pretty surprised it is in the ToA! I do appreciate getting to try the first chapter, though. I tried it with other books in the ToA and have purchased them. In this case, it saved me some money!
The good news is that this book is short, so if it doesn't float your boat, you haven't lost much time. I'm not sure that there is anything wrong with the book per se other than the fact I just don't care for the characters or the themes. I'm sure there are people out there who will respond positively to this book...I'm just not one of them!
It does pick up quite a bit in the second half and I was on the verge of liking the book, but I found the ending unsatisfying.
...how to review this book.
Despite the fact it draws far (far! Far! FAR!) too much on the Twilight novels, I liked the plot. I liked the characters. The narrator did a great job.
That said, I hate to say anything derogatory about a new writer who clearly made such a big effort, but there were sections of dialogue that just made me wince.
At the end of the book, I did look to see when the next book will be released. I look forward to it with some trepidation. Hopefully we'll be past the Twilight-ripoff, though the suggested plot developments make me equally nervous...
If you didn't like (or would never read) the Twilight novels, I can pretty safely say that this series is objectively not for you. For those of us who have read a lot of the modern vampire canon....just brace yourself for the occasional epic dialogue fail.
Unless you're familiar with Faust, before listening to this, I would 1) go to the Naxos Audiobooks website and read about this particular production of Faust.
Part 1 has a clear narrative and the performance sparkles.
Part 2, through no fault of the performers, is difficult to follow if you don't already know the story. I kept thinking I had missed something and kept rewinding. Eventually, I read the study guide posted above so I would have a clue what is going on with the story. The narrative of Part 2 is simply nowhere near as compelling as Part 1.
The performers do a wonderful job. It is simply difficult for someone unfamiliar with Part 2 of Faust to follow along without some outside help.
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