First, my complaints:
1. As with any mystery, you want to see if you can figure it out as the story progresses. You might as well give up on this idea in the series. The writer builds "suspense" by having his characters constantly withhold critical information they knew from the start, disclosing it only in dribs and drabs. That's not suspense. It's annoyance. It would make sense if these characters were enemies, but they're supposed to be part of the "good guys" hoping to solve the crimes.
2. I gave the performance 5 stars, because I love this narrator. But she talks too fast, and runs the main character's thoughts together with her speech so it's difficult to tell when the character is thinking and when she's talking.
Now, the good:
1. Despite the problems, these stories are JUST. PLAIN. FUN. The characters are fun. The banter is fun. The ideas are fun. This is especially appealing to people like me, who like the "film noir in an alternate universe" style.
2. Abandoning the idea of solving the mystery based on the same clues the main character has to consider doesn't mean you can't figure out who's doing the killing. I managed to guess simply based on the writing style.
3. The narrator's style of storytelling grabs you and keeps you interested.
This book is definitely worth the credit or the price.
I'm really enjoying this book (I'm about 2/3 through), even though I'm not a big fan of vampire or lycanthrope stories. It's like a film noir or old-style mystery with a supernatural twist. I've been listening to too many books that can't hold my attention, but this one not only keeps my attention, I look forward to listening to it every night.
The narrator is perfect for the part. My only complaint, however minor, is that she talks too fast. That, alone, wouldn't be a problem, but the book is written in such a way that one moment the protagonist is thinking, and the next moment talking. The way the narrator speeds through these moments makes it difficult to tell where the thinking stops and the speaking begins. But Joanna Parker does such a good job capturing the personality it's easily overlooked.
5 stars across the board.
This guy writes like he just finished his first creative writing class and wants to prove he can use metaphors. Remove all the metaphors and the audible book would be about 5 minutes long. Combine that with the fact that he hates using dialog to communicate, and this is the kind of thing you'll be hearing (I'm making this up to illustrate the problem):
"Would you like a cup of tea," she asked. Her heart was as fragile as the antique teacup. Blah blah blah blah blah.... The teacup was a gift from her grandmother, who blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. She once thought of taking the tea set to Antiques road show blah blah blah blah blah.
"No thanks," he replied. Truthfully, he loved tea and could have used the offering. But his heart was weighed down by the incident this morning where he stubbed his toe. That reminded him of... blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
He simply won't let the characters be characters, TALK, and do what they do. It's like he spends the entire book trying to develop the characters with metaphors and back story. What it really accomplished was that I couldn't care less about the people in the story after about half the book. And since it keeps the story from moving forward at an acceptable pace, I lost interest in the story, itself. What a disappointment. It got off to a good start so I had high hopes. And every once in a while it hints at being interesting again, but then he pads out the next hour with crap.
If you can't get enough Michael Talbot, then this is for you. It's ALL Michael Talbot.
This is my, what, 13th? 14th? Mark Tufo book? Most of them centered around Michael Talbot? I was a huge fan of the Zombie Fallout series, but I've had about enough Michael Talbot as I can stand. It's not overload from frequency. I let months go by before listening again.
Here's a telling symptom of the problem with this and his other recent books. In the early books in the series, I'd set the sleep timer (or clock timer) to 60 minutes and listen as I fell asleep, but I couldn't fall asleep until the Audible sleep timer expired. I was too involved in the book to fall asleep. And my wife would wonder what I'm laughing about.
Now, I often fall asleep 15, 30 or 45 minutes before the sleep timer expires without a chuckle. When I start the next night, I don't even bother to back up over the part I missed. Because, what did I really miss? More tiresome banter. More tiresome sarcasm. And the plot hasn't moved forward. It hasn't budged for chapters.
I thought Lycan fallout would introduce something fresh because it takes place long after the Zombie fallout series. But no, it's just more tiresome banter. More tiresome sarcasm. And the "new" characters are pretty much retreads of the old, dead ones.
What makes it worse is that all the characters have been slowly morphing into Michael Talbot variants with each new book. Even "little" tommy, the vampire child sounds more and more like Michael Talbot with every new book. Same type of banter. Same type of sarcasm.
Mark Tufo is one of the most prolific writers out there, but it may now be because he only has to write one character. It's time to start with a new personality, Mark.
On the plus side, Seane Runnette is superb, as always.
The book is very entertaining, overall. The problem with this book is that the plot moves forward at a snail's pace (no, at a fraction of a snail's pace) because it is constantly being interrupted with long episodes of back-story. And the back-story seems largely irrelevant at the time. It doesn't help that the back-story is way overdone.
The writer could tease some of what's coming to keep you reading (or listening) but tell the story chronologically. That way you're not waiting to find out what happens next while she takes time out to drone on and on about her teenage heartthrob. There's one spot in particular where this style is very frustrating. Within the span of about a minute or two of the main story, she takes a break to spend what seems like hours thinking back about what happened with her little brother.
I understand some of the reasons why it was written this way, and I won't post a spoiler in order to explain it. As an editor, however, I know there are other ways of leading the reader toward an essential focal point. I almost gave up on the book a couple of times, and that's not a good thing.
I've only just listened to this first in the series, but so far it's the best zombie book I've head on Audible. It has a perfect blend of character development, humor, suspense, and horror. I lost a few hours of sleep listening to this at night. My wife, who knows English but not well enough to concentrate on following the story, couldn't understand why I was cracking up while lying in my bed trying to fall asleep to this novel. In the end, I had to turn it off, because I couldn't stop listening.
My mind often wanders while listening to a story, and I'll sometimes I'll "wake up" and realize I didn't actually hear the last 20 minutes or so. In most cases, I just focus my attention again and keep going. Not with this book. I had to go back and listen to every word.
Get this book. Here's how good it is: I didn't have the credits to buy this and the next book, but the first was so worth the price, I paid for the second rather than wait for my next credit to kick in. I can't wait to hear what happens next.
The narrator is excellent in delivery, but his voice isn't crisp and clear, so if your hearing isn't perfect, it can sometimes take effort to follow every word. Most people shouldn't even notice, though.
Great writers. Great narrator. But while I was hoping this wouldn't be another episode of Scooby Doo for the literary guild, that's exactly what it was.
It's a spooky demon or the devil killing people! No, pull off his mask and it's actually the Kwazy Kount and his Microwave Ray Gun! And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for that meddling Pendergast.
Ok, I've read enough of these guys to know they would never actually introduce a real demon into a story, but a microwave ray gun? Really? That "heats from the inside-out" (okay, that's ALMOST true, depending on what you're heating) slowly enough to create bubbling agony but somehow magically avoids heat conduction or wave bouncing and cremates half a head and leaves the other half intact? If you're going to just make up a weapon out of thin air that isn't based on solid scientific grounds, be more creative than a microwave ray gun. Criminy. The writers hint at other possible causes of death, which would have been far more interesting... but you're stuck with the ray gun.
And there are whole chapters that are nothing but filler. I skipped past every chapter dealing with the story in the Post, and when I browsed them later, confirmed that I missed absolutely nothing.
Given all the above, I'm not sure why I enjoyed it so much, but I did.
I strongly recommend this book. I really enjoyed the first two in this series, but this one really caught me by surprise. Once I realized where this book was headed, it had two strikes against it. It didn't involve the Monster Hunter International team, and it was a werewolf story. Earl was not one of my favorite characters, and I have no interest in werewolf stories.
But it turned out to be such an great story, expertly told, I couldn't stop listening. I even found myself cheering out loud near the end.
The narrator is a good choice and has done a good job with this series. I don't know if he was intentionally doing a "Christopher Walken" voice for Nikolai, but that voice cracked me up.
The Stealth character is a super genius with the body of a sex goddess, and she shows it off by wearing a painted-on costume with straps. I don't know if it was Khristine Hvam's interpretation of Stealth or if it was Peter Clines' intent, but the Stealth character comes across as a stuck-up self-obsessed b*tch. If she was just another character, her personality might have been amusing and could have added a little humor. But the fact that she's the leader makes the book less believable and less enjoyable than it otherwise might have been.
In addition, the book was too short, and it failed to fill several plot holes. Still, the concept was inventive and it was well worth the credit. I'll give Ex-Patriots a try.
I have to disagree with most of the reviewers here. This was a fun novel, and I'm glad I bought it. But it was disappointing compared to the first novel. The "bad guy" characters were all rather trite. There were also a number of elements in the plot (and plot connections) that were blatantly obvious, yet the supposedly brilliant people and the supercomputer at the Department of Military Sciences had a hard time figuring out. If it's that obvious to a reader, it kills the suspension of disbelief when it's presented as a startling revelation to the characters.
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