I like sci-fi and fantasy, and can accept the initial premise that a town in modern day West Virginia has been mysteriously sent back to 1632 Germany. That is the cool part of the story. The problem is with the characters - they are mostly caricatures. And while that is fine for many entertaining novels with heavy action, this book, after the opening sequences, spends a lot of time on character "development." If you can call following the thoughts and dialogue of stock characters "development." Chunks of the book read like a romance novel, with breathless, love-at-first-site encounters and courtship. The Americans, almost without exception, are an amazingly virtuous lot, that embody the best American principals - hard work, self reliance, inclusion, democracy, tolerance, practicality, fairness, ingenuity - without fail. This is in stark contrast to the bad guys - who are truly vile. The narrator, George Guidall, is so good, that he can make this pulp seem to have substance. Yet Guidall can only cover for the author for so long. Eventually, you notice that your velveeta topped cheeseburger is missing the meat, and you only have a mouthful of cheese.
Although not the type of fantasy genre I usually listen to, I really enjoyed Midnight Riot. Mostly light fun with enough characters and realism to anchor it. The narrator is excellent. I enjoyed the strong accent.
Lock In is a police procedural in a future sci-fi setting. The murder mystery part starts out intriguing. The future setting poses a very interesting challenge for the police: someone may have committed murder while acting as a technologically-based channel/conduit for another person. As the investigation goes on, however, I started to wonder if the culprit was intentionally leaving easy to find clues to point in the wrong direction (sadly that was not the case). Am I to believe that the sophisticated, well organized, well financed, person or people behind the crimes are also so careless as to leave a veritable trail of breadcrumbs for the police? Equally as frustrating, a lot of the detective work comes from a tech savvy consultant who explains what and how the bad guys are doing in lengthy expositions. These two dynamics took all the fun out of the mystery for me.
The future setting brings up some potentially interesting cultural and ethical considerations around how the majority of people relate to people who have been "locked in" as a result of disease. These people cannot use their bodies, and experience their lives through a combination of being in cyberspace and/or operating in the physical world through robots or human conduits. Not surprisingly, they develop their own culture and ideas about what makes for a good life. I found the treatment of these issues somewhat basic, without getting into anything particularly interesting or profound. I didn't choose the book to explore deep cultural issues, but given how the procedural part of the book fell flat to me, it just added to my sense of the book as not hitting the mark.
I really enjoyed Hamiltons Pandora Star series. I thought the setting was fun to learn about and the characters interesting and amusing, if sometimes a little two-dimensional. This, on the other hand, featured a tedious setting/culture, and characters I could care less about.
I enjoyed this book as a fast paced page turner. Although it has a lot of violence, it is pretty cartoonish, which was fine by me. Might read another in the series, but it needs some more diverse action than a series of fights. The main character is likeable, and the book has some good comic moments.
I don't often read mysteries, but took a chance on this in a daily deal sale. I really took a liking to Dr. Siri, enjoying his observations and perspective on life. The author is compassionate toward his characters, even the bad guys. This book does veer into fantasy, which I was not expecting, but I read a fair amount of fantasy, so just went with it. I don't like detailed violence and gore, and although this book has some, it didn't overwhelm the story or shock me. While there are some mysteries to be solved, I would say this is really a character driven novel. The setting is also a strong feature of the story, set in 70's Laos. I enjoyed learning about the social and political setting, which I had never read about before this book. Over-all I would characterize this as a fun read.
This book has some gems in it. My recommendation is to listen to the first 1/3 to 1/2. At some point it becomes extremely repetitive. I found the tone of it condescending, and felt like I was being lectured, and not in a good way. I think that the core of the "how to" part, which is to simply relax and not resist reality, is overly simplistic. People have consistent meditation practices because it is difficult to change your way of being on the fly.
Light, fun, odd-couple road trip book. You may need to have some affinity for meditation or Buddhism to enjoy this book. The writing is a bit hokey and sentimental at times.
Somehow the author and narrator combined to drain all life out of what would seem to be an engaging story. I could not get any emotional involvement in the main character, so I just didn't care what happened next. I don't really understand how this feat was accomplished. The story is a first person narrative, with the narrator recounting events forty years or so in the past. She seems so cool and detached, even when the action is emotional, that it gave me some kind of cognitive dissonance. Obviously, I am a reader that needs to relate to the characters to enjoy the book. The writing is very good and the narrator is also very good, I can understand that other people may find it excellent.
Good genre classic, well narrated. Not a good bedtime listen because it is emotionally overwrought. Ender is almost constantly upset, most everyone else is a psychotic a-hole. If this book came out today, I would give it 2 stars. It deserves 4 though, because it was written 30 years ago.
Highly skilled writer details agony of main character. Seems to wallow in it. Got about 3 hours in and decided to end my own suffering by not listening any more.
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