I really enjoyed some of Sawyer's earlier work. The Neanderthal/Human/Hybrid series is brilliant - well developed characters and relationships with depth that we really came to care about, all mixed carefully balanced with clever, innovative and well developed scientific speculation and a plot that moves along very nicely and holds it all together. However, as time goes on his work becomes more and more like excerts from a science paper, and all the characters seem flat, everyone is so completely scientifically adept in the same exact way and always on the same page with each other and so quick to launch into a lecture/intense conversation about the ins and outs of the science involved. Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of speculative science in my science fiction, but I like it worked into the story, not trumping the story. In this the story and characters seem more like a vehicle for a very long winded essay of some kind... or like some dream nerd scenario (and I use the word nerd with the utmost of respect) in which people sit around debate this stuff endlessly... That and the preoccupation with religion and the relentless preoccupation with Canadianism vs. Americanism (which is so prevalent in this one it becomes a bit embarassing at times) are really changing Sawyers work and style. Some might like that but it isn't my cup of tea and I really think his earlier work was much stronger and much more compelling and entertaining.
I agree with a lot of what this book says, since a lot of it is super obvious stuff that is hard to argue with (ghosts, astrology, Nostradamus, etc). But the book is just weak, its arguments simple, lacking in research or facts and stated very much like a strong opinion.
But the worst part, and I think the thing that kills a lot of the power and credibility ( for those who would disagree with its points) is the way it is written. At times it utterly drips with arrogance and reads like an auto biography. Whether the author intends it or not, and I expect not and expect he doesn't even realize that he is doing it, the book is relentlessly peppered with personal boasts (i.e. how worldly and well traveled I am, what a great outdoor adventurer, all the incredible reporting jobs I've had, etc). Then, with that sort of thing all over the place, he seems to really condescendingly lecture from a personal point of view. Granted, he probably can only speak for himself, as he'd not researched, doesn't quote anyone, hasn't done studies, so can only give his opinions. But the way he does it is just annoying. "I know better than to think whatever..." as he tries to shoot down some belief he disagrees with. And he always, always uses himself as the example "People think atheists are (fill in the blank) but I ( fill in a LONG lecture on how reasonable and wonderful and sound and compassionate or whatever his opinions are.
And there are places he just goes on and on about himself, his personal life, his tastes in television, the way he feels about various aspects of issues and life in a way that it is like he is writing an autobiography. But, well, unless someone is a fan of this guy, which I expect most who bought this book are not, and it was not their motivation, it is boring and very, very arrogant sounding. He comes accross, on the whole, as one of those people we probably have all met who are very pleased with themselves, and have lots of strong opinions they are not just going to share with you, but hold up as the way all should be, and lecture about nonstop. Perhaps that is unfair, but that was the feeling I had in listening to this thing, and given a chance, would prbably not want to have a chat or spend some time with the author.
At one point, when talking about the holocaust and the millions of people killed, he comes right out and claims "I probably view this very differently from most people"... So you are thinking, hmmm... what could be his personal view on this massive tragedy that sets him apart from most people. He goes on to declare he is deeply disturbed by it, feels guilt as a human that such a thing could happen, feels it is an awful tragedy and has nothing but bad feelings and compassion. Ok, so what is he saying as that sums up what most people I know think on the topic - No, Mr. Harrison, you are not so special, and you are not the only person who feels the systematic slaughter of millions of innocent people is an awful tragedy we should all recognize as such.
"It is important for readers to understand..." And that kind of opening all over the place followed by his personal opinions and his advice to emulate his personal thinking, makes the whole thing feel so intolerably sanctimonious and so much of it is presented as his personal feelings and ideas that we all really should wake up and espouse, you stupid, stupid, people you... I doubt he intends that tone, and think that is just how this guy is and how he writes. There are many who have written on topics like this, on skepticism, who are able to present ideas without sounding like that. It would have been a LOT better without all the personal ego stroking and biographical revelation, with a lot more citing of research, of other thinkers, or data. Again, he isn't that special - there are some really great minds out there who could get away with it, but they are also not the type to write this way.
He obviously feels strongly about a lot of things, and has a lot to say, but it really just feels that way - like a very opinionated guy lecturing and sounding off on his peeves and puffing himself up, rather than an actual examination of these topics, presenting of information, etc. Ok, fine, but it wasn't what I was thinking this book would be.
As I said, I don't disagree with his points, just am so off put by the annoying tone, the lack of anything to back up the arguments at times, and the relentless focus on himself. Too bad as it was a good idea for a book, just not well executed and probably for that reason won't go far in convincing any opponents on these topics.
Have you ever had a pet dog or cat? Then you probably understand what makes animals and their relationship with people so wonderful. They are not people. They are not little humans in furry bodies. They think in an entirely different way. That is fascinating and makes interacting with an animal and relationships with animals very fulfilling - mutually fulfilling. It is a connection with nature, and a relationship we don't have with other humans. And often it is a relationship based on a great deal of love and care and fun and happiness. Every dog or cat I have ever had was happy, loved, cared for. Every dog or cat I have known of friends was the same. They love their owners and their lives are often very fulfilled. There are, of course, exceptions, and some people are poor pet owners, but the billions of dollars spent on the pet care industry every year demonstrates that more people love their pets almost as children than are unkind to them.
All that understood, the idea that, given self awareness, all cats and dogs would immediately rebel against their "enslavement" and hate the humans and go to war is a stretch. Further, this is not a story about animals. Their thinking and the way they act is human nature in every way, and retains not a trace of animal nature. That was disappointing and felt a bit uncreative. It is a story of human slaves who happen to be in animal bodies and I don't believe represent pets or people really. It doesn't seem to connect to a current situation... what slaves is this about if it is about people? If it is about animals, they stop being animals pretty fast in every way and are just basically fur covered humans and animals, I argue, kept as beloved pets, would not hate the humans in this way or feel enslaved.
That said, if those things don't bother you, then it is incredibly well read, and I suppose the story itself is engaging, interesting science fiction. Some have compared this to animal farm. Animal farm it is not. Animal farm was a commentary on human nature, on human society, a parody and an interesting examination of the human condition. this is not a commentary or parody in any way - it's just a strange story about some weird people that don't seem to fit into our world of people, don't seem to fit into our world of animals...
But it is engaging enough, I suppose and well read. Just not what I had hoped based on the description.
I can see why this is a popular story and it is well written. It is so strange that the author chose to read it himself. To be fair, he does a decent job reading it - but he is literally just reading it. Remember in school as a kid, when teacher would read a story or a chapter of a book? It's like that. When people perform a book, as many of the professional narrators do, it feels like they are the character, and are speaking to you. Obviously some do a poor job, and some are (like actors can be) hams who overdo it. But there really is a big difference between how we speak and how people read aloud. It is why people memorize speeches or at least practice them rather than read them. The cadence and rhythm of how we say the sentences are completely different when reading aloud than when we speak. And there is only so much of that "being read to" feeling anyone can really take at a time, I think, since it doesn't engage you the way the performed books do.
Part of what has made audible books popular is that they are not just books read aloud, but are performed. that does not mean a big dramatic thing and over performing can wreck a book too - but the professionals can avoid that teacher-reading-to-the-class sound.
This sounds like how I would read it if you handed me the book and said read it. I think most people would sound like this. He did a good job reading it, he tries to be a bit more dramatic at the important parts, but is not a professional narrator, and it has that reading a book to you feel. I found it hard to engage as this was distracting since I have gotten so used to professional narrators. This would be a better one to read yourself I think.
This is one of the better written of these types of series, with well developed characters, a really well-paced plot, a good balance of emotional engagement to action, etc - others have done a good job delineating its virtues. The narrator deserves praise too.
I wish this, and all such novels, would not have these cringe-worthy covers. I know its petty, and I am definitely not judging the book by the cover. But those embarrassing covers of overly muscled men's chests seem appropriate on the lesser books in this genre, those that are largely just dull descriptions of sexual encounters with some poorly done story linking them together - too many of those to list and in such cases these covers make sense. But not for the better written series and the better writers. And that ALL the books in this series pretty much have the same cover - it is like the creativity of the author is not reflected in the cover art, and the cover art is not worthy of the story.
Well done stories, well developed plots and characters and strong writing in any genre will attract discerning, intelligent people who will read it. So the covers that make such people need to make sure no one sees it if they read it in public, or not display it on a bookshelf because the cover does NOT represent the book, makes it seem pretty stupid, and requires explanation that it isn't just a raunchy sex book... Well, I suppose it sells, but that is perplexing and sad, and I think that the publishers underrate the audience when they take that approach.
With employers who won't even consider candidates unless they post their whole life on awful, invasive sites like LinkedIn, with companies like zappos that require you drink the koolaid before your even hired by joining and actively participating in the mandatory company social network, and have themed offices like in this book and promote a cult-like devotion and a sick openness in order to keep your job, with the world addicted to facebook and twitter.. WOW there was SO much in this book that is NOT a scary prediction of the future, but simply a description of the present, only nobody is objecting, everyone seems to think this is normal, people even get angry and argue with you if you claim such things are invasive and disturbing, and will defend it as though you have attacked their child.
In this book, the characters swept into this totalitatian state don't even see it happening, as it is all so normal, and supposedly fun... But if you really think about it, this bizarre outpouring of all the details of our personal lives in electronic form is pretty weird, and yet those who call it weird are considered weird these days. And more and more it becomes mandatory.... I can totally see this book coming to life, and even this review, I fear some employer finding it one day, or some person in my life being angry I dare show anything but love of facebook, twitter and the like...
Scary stuff in this book about a scary trend creeping, creeping creeping in... until one day it will be too late to go back.
I finally got around to listening to this and am so glad I did. Have to get the book now. I imagine it is what working and Zappos is like. Before anyone goes into a fury of upset over that, given some many seem to have had a big gulp of whatever koolaid that company is drinking, think about it - the naming of rooms to be "fun" the social network stuff, the relentless we are a family and a community stuff... whenever I hear about the Zappos cult and how it gets praised to the sky as such a great place to work and such a brilliant company, I imagine a scenario very similar to this story... And I am scared - wouldn't take a job there for anything, well - I would if I were very desperate. The way they have all this foreced socialization and bonding and "making work fun" nonsense like cubicle parades and relentless extracurricular after work activity. Whenever i hear about it I feel like some ugly brainwash is going on and it is the opposite of what people should be thinking about in terms of an employer... the true definition of creepy, though I know the drones there are "very happy"... I am sure that company, or at least companies like that, were some inspiration for this. Scary stuff and all too close to our reality.
Audible is pushing this story on their home page. It is not hte type I usually read, but their marketing efforts worked and I purchased it. I wish I had not and I will not finish it.
The first 30 minutes features torture of an animal. This is something I cannot stomach and do not want in any part or to any degree in my entertainment/literature. Audible should warn about such things. I was very disturbed by what I heard and it is not acceptable to me at all. It may be crucial to the story or to the characters, but such stories and such characters are not in any way the type I want polluting my mind. I find it cheap and disturbing and offiensive and easy and gratuitous. That is my personal taste and I feel strongly about it and react strongly to it, so thought I should warn, since audible is not going to.
Perhaps it won't bother some people as much, but it is a deal breaker for me and I wish I could unhear what I just heard. So if you feel the same, perhaps I have spared someone.
Surprised some listeners objected to the narrator. He did a great job - always does. A lot of the stories he has narrated feature strong characters and relationships and he does a great job with that.. Unfotunately very little of that is present in this book.
I love zombie stories. No, wait, I love well done stories that happen to feature zombies. The problem with this is that it is SO action packed. It may sound strange that this is a complaint, but it is like films that are overloaded with car chases or explosions or special effects. You have to have character development, plot, dialogue, a theme, a motivation for characters, interpersonal interaction, relationships, mood, etc... SO many other factors that make a good story. Get those right, and action can be really compelling. But without those, action is like a pretty package with nothing inside of it. And it is boring. An hour into this story and the action is still being described but no sense of a who the characters are - who even is the main character, who should we care about, what caused this, what is the plot? What is the purpose.. Just endless action scenes of soldiers fighting zombies and various logistics of the fighting... It really doesn't work. It really was tedious - it was the opposite of what action scenes are meant to do.. It didn't give a sense of excitement or drama or tension. With nothing to creat a story it was really, really hard to pay attention to the endless action and logistics of the fight. Too bad as the writer seems capable and the prose is good...Yet, just on and on the action goes... I almost gave up.
But if you have read a few well - then you are in my boat and WOW is it ever formulaic. Change names, slightly different plot - personalities identical to those in other stories... Immortal hunk with super power meets vulnerable, but often tough, and usually immortal or soon to be immortal girl... There is the inevitable misunderstanding, miscommunication, mistreatment of each other and a big falling out. One or both will have been tortured, of course.. then her life is in peril ( or his, but usually hers) and they come together, right all their wrongs and are in love forever and ever in a love to rival no other love - except all the other loves in these endless formula stories.
I know no one wants to hear this and reviews are supposed to gush or not be posted... and it is an escape, I suppose, if you don't mind the repetitive formula and then it is probably a lot of fun.... Kresley Cole is not a bad writer and this is better than a lot of what is out there... But she has a lot more potential, and these are becoming SO predictable and the exact same thing over and over.
Her young adult series was an exploration, and surprisingly the work she did on a series meant for teens shows that she has the ability to really develop characters, relationships, plots that are not just an edless re-hash...If she did not have such potential, I would probably be more patient with this... But am just tired of it... after the first 2 I read, they are all the same...
That said, again, she is a goo writer, compared to a lot of what is out there, though sometimes it is a little cringeworthy and if I never hear the term "hot seed" again, that is ok by me.... But the narrator is beyond superb - making it worth it, though it really is the same old from the author.
The focus of this story is MUCH more about the main character's dating life than an apocalypse. In fact it really is just a sort of chronicle of the main character's dating life. I found the main character to be hard to like, and hard to care about. Kind of a wishy washy guy who sort of drifts along bemoaning his love life, while making silly decisions and bouncing from person to person kind of pointlessly... The apocalypse is really just a backdrop for this dating stuff which is the main thrust of the story. It is not, however, a romance, or a love story, or even an exploration of relationships - just a sort of log and commentary on the trials and tribulations of dating...
It is odd - as though the writer was much more interested in exploring the ups and downs of dating than the supposed demise of the world. There is much more commentary about the kind of girl he likes, the kind of girl he doesn't like, etc, than there is about what is happening in the world and why or how it impacts anything. The apocalypse element could have been left out altogether, since it completely had little to no impact on the main story, which is all about this guy's experiences in dating. The dating stuff got to be relentless at times - on and on and on about which woman he will date and going to a dating service, and ex's he's had and... Ugg....
There is little explanation for why the economy is failing, or what is happening in the world or why, and some weird elements seem to be introduced to try to make is seem like an apocalypse. There are unexplained groups forming in society that seem to have no purpose and no explanation but to somehow make this an apocalypse, and viruses popping up for no apparent reason as we are given no explanation of the state of the world, or who would do this, or why, and it does nothing to move the story (which is just DATING) along.
It really got tedious and was a chore to finish this and I wonder why the author doesn't just write a straightforward story about some guy's dating life and all the commentary he clearly wants to expound on about dating for guys (I am sure there is an audience for that), without the premise of the world ending, since the apocalypse is really an afterthought in many ways it seems in this story. Perhaps it would not have been disappointing had I thought is was a character driven story about some ordinary guy going through all the ins and outs and ups and downs of dating, but "soft apocalypse" carries some obvious promises, so I felt this was very misleading... I had to listen to hours of this guy droning on about his feelings about his dating life when I thought this was a slow end of the world story, which it only was a little and only incidentally, it seems.
I know I can return it, but it is pain to do that. So though I hate giving bad reviews, and though it wasn't the worst story I have ever heard, I really felt there was a bait and switch going on here and I feel a mislead...
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