I am a huge (and therefore biased) fan of Margaret Atwood, and I find her speculative fiction her most interesting and challenging work. This did not disappoint. As noted by a previous reviewer, it is not for sci-fi novices - the plot is not simply laid out and does not follow all the rules they teach us in writing class. I found the story rich, interesting, wildly thought provoking, and very frightening in its plausibility. The characters are interesting (if some a bit creepy) and the intricacy of their relationships compelling. It is very much a sci-fi thriller, but without space ships - a good apocalyptic science-and-intellect-run-amok story. As noted before, the abrupt ending was a bit disappointing but not surprising. I really want to know what happens next, but in the style of Margaret Atwood, each reader has to answer that question for him or herself.
I accidentally purchased this unabridged version rather than the one read by Barbara Rosenblat. All of the Amelia Peabody books of course are wonderful, but a great deal of the fun in these is her fabulous narration, wonderful accents, and the life she brings to Amelia, Ramses, and all of the other characters (her Egyptian accent is spot on). I have no idea why they would use an American narrator to do the voice of Amelia, a Victorian Englishwoman, but this reader absolutely does not work for me. Audible was very kind to refund my credit to allow me to get the other one.
This isn't your usual Follett thriller, and I wouldn't call this a thriller because of the pace of the story. That said, its a great tale with an excellent reader (lots of good accents, except perhaps the American one....). The story captures the flavor of the wealthy upper classes in Victorian London (with their clubs full of wastrel rich young gentlemen) exceptionally well. The "evil" characters are not evil so much as they are amoral manipulators out to maximize their gain. Great character development, a good story, and as a thriller, detailed and moderately paced.
I am a huge Atwood fan, and have listened to Oryx and Crake at least twice. The reader is good, though I really liked the male reader in O&C a bit more. I enjoyed the connections between the two books, and the different perspective it lends. The music was a bit strange at first, but it does a great job of adding to the "goofiness" of the God's Gardeners (think hippie folksy 70s Christian music), along with Adam One's "sermons". The story tells well, and it has that same Atwood tongue-in-cheek cynical world view. If you liked Oryx and Crake, you'll like this one too. Not a world I'd care to live in, but very thought provoking and engaging.
It took me about an hour to get hooked into the story and adjusted to the narrator's style - some bits do come across as a bit monotone, but in retrospect, it really suits the story. Where he shines is in the variety of speaking styles and accents from the UK he uses to distinguish his characters - it adds great depth to the story. It really makes the characters come alive too. If you struggle with Brit accents, just listen a bit and your ears will tune in. The story is really compelling - even though I haven't been into sword and sorcery books for many years. The characters are wildly varied and interesting. If you are looking for something cheery and upbeat, this may not be the book for you, but if you like intrigue, political clashes, high adventure, and conquest, its a real page turner. Am looking forward to the others, even at 2 credits apiece.
I was expecting a story of the evilness and injustice in an apartheid South Africa, and while there was that, what I really heard was a moving story of hope, personal tragedy, and triumph over tragedy. Its a wonderful story of good people working beyond the expectations and rules of a divided culture. The story of the "broken tribes" and broken land is as timely now as it was then. It is truly timeless in the stories of the lives of the people and how they were affected by a unsustainble social system and economy. The characters are rich and interesting.
I was initially put off by the voice of the narrator - his British accent is a very stuffy, old fashioned "World War II BBC" accent. But then that is the era of the book. His other "voices", Zulu and Afrikaans, are rich and wonderful to listen to. This was outstanding, and I'm sure I will listen to it again.
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