This is a magnificent story; great for the whole family, particularly if you have little Star Wars addicts like we do. Excitement, adventure, and a richly imagined and researched alternative history. In brief, this is a "young-orphans (not really, but they think so) make-good in the British Empire" story, with the added twist that, in place of the usual sea adventures, we have space adventures. HRM Victoria's empire includes the moon, Mars, and various Jovian satellites. Wow. The author manages to capture the speech and manners of Victorian England while still communicating to a modern young audience - no small feat! Fans of "real" history, particularly the history of science, will find fun tidbits scattered throughout for their consumption. Reeve does his homework.
In the words of the narrator: Huzzah!
An important point to note is that this is, in fact, a Melody Malone story. Just like it says on the cover. It is NOT a Doctor Who story. It's connected, it stars River Song (sort of) as a pseudo-hard-boiled detective. It leads nearly seamlessly into the Angels of New York episode. But if you are waiting for the Doctor or Amy or Rory or anyone else.... you're out of luck.
That being said, this is loads of fun and I could listen to Alex Kingston all day. So I recommend it for super-serious Whovians or anyone else with a River/Doctor crush.
Hate to say it, but Matt Smith is not the vocal actor that David Tennant is. He doesn't do a terribly impressive job with his vocal characterizations, and it's hard to hear the difference between him as narrator and him as Doctor. And the story is just.... lame. Straightforward. Dependent on luck rather than any skill. And the surprise is kind of a so-what. Why is any of the important stuff here, in this time and place? Why's it important? How is it supposed to connect to the overall story or the distress signal that supposedly lead the Doctor and Amy here? This doesn't really tell us anything. Go get a different episode.
First: David Tennant is an excellent verbal actor. Sure, you're getting this because you liked Doctor 10. But stay for the fact that his vocal characterizations are excellent (and, when they're characters with whom we're familiar like Rose or Mickey, dead on). Narrator David Tennant speaks in his natural Scottish accent, while the Tenth Doctor speaks in his BBC voice. This alone is worth your cash.
Second: This is an excellent story. Complex while not overly contrived. Well described. Neat plot twists. Works in overall continuity well (later 1/2 of series 2, I think). It's got time and space, and some funky timey-wimey-ness that makes it fun.
This review is focussed on the audio aspects only; the story is epic and widely regarded as Gaiman's best work. So let's just take that part as read and move on:
I have both versions of American Gods as audiobook, and I must admit approached this version with trepidation. If you have listened to the BBC radio Hobbit or Hitchhikers Guide or Gaiman's own "Plays for Voices", you know there is a pretty stark division between excellent audiobook and excellent audio theatre. Multiple voices in a reading verge *close* to performance, but then have all the "he said" and "she admitted"s that you'd think would break up the flow. Which it did. But only for about the first 10 minutes and then it just WORKS. The voices are dead-on perfect, you'll find things in the story you didn't find your first time (two times... five times....) through. I highly recommend this version, even if you already have the other one! Definitely worth the listen.
The coda at the end for the cut scene is also fun.
You know the material is funny and biting enough to make you cry. But darn-it, the stage directions distract without adding value. There are maybe *two* places where we need to be told someone is entering or leaving. The rest is really obvious from what the characters say OR could be made obvious through a touch of audio staging (door or walking sounds, for example). The intrusion of the superfluous narrator just ruined this one for me.
This is a marvelous (and relevant) political thriller and the cast are first rate. BUT it sounds like it was recorded with a cell phone. This is particularly challenging in scenes where many characters are present - the sound quality obscures who's speaking.
For many books, the audio format is merely a convienience - I can listen while driving, while it would be a very bad idea to try for text while reading. THIS edition is a marvelous expansion of the original due to the narrator's attention to dialect, accent and nuance. Anyone who's spent time in NO will recognize the vocal work. Nicely done.
I must admit that I was a little dubious about this one. If you've seen the actual book, you know it is full of tables and lists and lots of other things that would seem to make for a truly horrid audiobook. What a great surprise! The audio version of "Areas...." is *completely* reworked, absolutely hilarious, and an excellent example to anyone who would like to work in this medium. Hodgman adds examples, music, and stories to replace the most of the hopelessly complex tables. This obviously took more effort than the typical "sit down and read it" audiobook, and it was well worth it. This is very very funny.
Don't play it for anyone under 13; there is some risque language, and they won't get it anyway.
The Magic Treehouse series is aimed at early readers. As such, the audio version is best for kids just on the cusp of reading - four and five year olds who can't yet tackle these books on their own. Kids love these stories. The reading is pleasant.
However, these books make an excellent argument for getting Junior his own iPod.... they're mind-numbingly formulaic and represent research in such a simplistic way that it makes my teeth itch. It's like *listening* to an episode of Barney. If you want something the kids AND mom and dad can all agree on, I'd suggest trading up to Dragon Rider.
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