A new favorite in my 200+ audiobook library. It is a moving epic story about life in North Korea. One of the best I've ever listened to, I can not say enough about how wonderful this book is. There is a section about half way through where a case of mistaken identity makes the book a little hard to follow, and a little bit tough to believe, but work through it and you will not be dissapointed at how it all comes together. An amazing experience, absolutely engrossing, this is one I will listen to again and again and again.
I think it would help potential listeners to understand this is a book primarily about the process or science of textual criticism and how scholars study origins of text and reach conclusions about which version might or might not be original. I found it fascinating.
New testament as the subject of textual criticism would only be relevant or interesting to someone with a Christian background or understanding, especially if you've been involved in some of the in-fighting among various sects of Christianity. If you are familiar with the debates about divine inspiration and care about other nit-picky details. You don't need 12 years of catholic school, but a basic knowledge and interest in the topic helps.
If you're not involved in the debate over one word, if you are looking for dramatic expose, or a worldwide sinister conspiracy theory, you will be disappointed. There are no shocking revelations. Its about an added sentence here or there, a single changed word, either deliberate or accidental. Its about why and how someone today would identify what words are suspect and which of various scripts might be original and how they can tell the difference. The basic story of the new testament doesn't change all that much, if at all.
I think the narrator is a must, he does an excellent job explaining new concepts of textual criticism that wouldn't be familiar to the non-scholar. There's nothing too hard to understand, but for someone not familiar with the terminology, its much easier if you have someone read it and use proper pronunciation and inflection throughout the sentences.
I think this is a book that lends itself to being read aloud that reading the text yourself.
The portions of the book taken from world empire lost (ie the non-fiction parts) I thought were fascinating. As a 30 year old, I would think "how could that have happened" meaning WWII. Obviously I get the basics taught in history class, but the specific justifications and reasons of each side and each individual country through the escalations and how each step related to each other. I thought that was great, even though I'm not much a fan of non-fiction.
The opposite side of that coin is that as a 30 year old woman I found the drama of the Henry family rather flat. A book written in 1971 about the 30s and 40s, what seemed dramatic and possibly even risqué in that day seems quite pedestrian to me. Its a poor commentary on our culture, but still true.
This is the most monotonous work I have ever encountered. The slooooow reading of the female narrator who pauses to OVER stress every descriptive word in the book makes you feel like the print she read must have CA..PI..TAL..IZED each one. Like listening to a teacher read out loud to a preschool class, where each syllable is stressed separately to help the kids "sound out" the words on the page in front of them. The male narrator is actually good and that is the only nice thing I can say about this book.
The story itself doesn't help. Nothing ever happens. Or something very interesting happens, but the author skims over it with one brief comment and then goes into excruciating detail about some other minutia, like what they ate, how it was prepared, what was on the side, what spice was used to season it, how much was used, and how was it chopped, course or fine, and then lists a metaphor about how course or fine, why it was chopped that way...blah blah blah. Even the rare event that can not be classified as day to day minutia is interesting at best- like a dream that doesn't make sense, but is so odd that it makes an impression anyway, even if it is disjointed and has no real meaning.
It is so insanely verbose... I just listened to a 15 minute passage about Aomami considering buying a goldfish and deciding on a rubber tree instead (which we already know is the outcome), I fast forwarded 10 minutes and she was still thinking about it when i resumed. That's where I quit the book after about 30 hours. The author repeats everything and repeats it and repeats it. It makes me want to scream. Every time he mentions the fish- its not just "fish" it is the gold fish that she saw on this date that she considered buying after she saw someone else's goldfish, in this particular store, in this location, next to that other place, where she eventually bought a rubber tree, which was a sad specimen- as if you could possibly have forgotten what fish he was talking about a half sentence ago, and the state of the rubber tree has anything to do with the stupid fish! At one point he describes Leader breathing deeply - it takes him over 10 minutes to do it- and the word deeply must be repeated 20 times. Reading this book is like grading a whole 6th grade classes' answers to a vocabulary test- he gives you a word; list a simile, a metaphor, a synonym, use it in a sentence, then repeat 28 times. I'm not kidding. He goes so far that in all of the dialog between Tengo and Fukaeri, Tengo literally repeats verbatim every word Fukaeri just finished saying before adding his comment. All of the other dialog is like this to a slightly lesser, but no less irritating, extent.
Not only does the author describe what IS there with every possible word that might be applicable - but he then proceeds list everything it can not be... There IS a second moon. It could not be a plane. It could not be a star, it could not be a comet, it could not be his imagination, it could not be a trick of the light... I GET IT ALREADY! MOVE ON! like some twisted 50 hour non-rhyming version of green eggs and ham.
It should have been a 200 page book. Seems like in the process of editing the author wrote each word, each sentence, each thought a dozen different ways and couldn't decide which he liked best, so just left them all- just in case you are a complete nincompoop and didn't understand the first 11 times he described it.
In addition, I can't relate to any of the characters. It may be a cultural thing, but their behavior, thought process, acceptance or disbelief, none of it makes any sense to me.
I really suffered during the 30 hours I stuck with this book becasue of the positive reviews. I hope I can save someone else the same suffering.
I can only stretch belief so far.... and the narrators accents don't help. He does scottish very well, unfortunately- they all sound scottish, even when he tries to do Russian. He does asian not at all, which is better. The russian is so bad it almost makes his Boston passable but only in comparison. Hes an excellent reader othewise, I wish he would have just skipped accents completely.
The book is non stop action (once you get the background of the game set up), which is great! The problem is to keep the action coming the coincidences of time and place, history and rationale of the characters goes from unlikely to just plain inconceivable.
The author never plays fast and loose with the facts and does a wonderful job with the initial set up so the story all fits, but the odds just don't play out. If you can completely suspend even a rudimentary concept of statistically likely scenarios and just go with it- it is non-stop action and a fun book. Toward the end I couldn't quite shut off that little voice that said at every turn- Oh COME ON! this is preposterous!
I found it likeable, but I am confused as to what people who are giving it five stars have been reading/listening to lately. I finished the book about a week ago and I had to think really hard about how it ended before I could write a review about a book I found so mediocre I couldn't care less about the fact there is a sequel, and even forgot that the ending left the story open for one... and it certainly doesn't demand one. I love a long involved drama, but this was long on words and short on drama.. Its one of those that's good enough not to turn it off and waste a credit, but I don't really care what happens to any of the characters.
The narrator is fantastic, and I feel so bad for him that his talents were wasted on this book. The story is so bad that can't listen any more. It feels like the book was written by a sexually deviant socially incapacitated adolescent boy with revenge fantasies.
Its starts out dumb. Too many unbelieveable coincidences, and scenes that don't make sense, without any context. Powers come and go, information that no one had a minute before is all of a sudden clear. The people on the quest will give their lives to each other, but all keep secret information that is clearly vital for each other to know for no other reason but to give the author an excuse to come up with some additional conflict later- but its completely unbelieveable that they don't tell each other. The man and woman are all of a sudden in love- nothing leads up to it. The Characters have the dumbest "powers" that come and go without rhyme or reason, I could almost picture a 40 year old child molester sitting home in his mother's basement writing this book saying - wouldn't it be cool if he could (Blank), and he writes it down. The protagonists uncontrollable rage takes him over as if it is a good thing- at one point, he gets this magic power - that he has never had before and has no explanation- in order to kick in the face in of a 9 year old girl. First she threatens to catch his girlfriend and let every man in the army rape her, and he's OK with that, not happy, but there's not much he can do about it at the time, But then she sticks her tongue out at him- and that's the last straw- whamo! magic powers and he kicks in her face- severs her tongue with her teeth before they smash apart. I just listened to SIX HOURS of part 4 that's just one long bad S&M scene, one after the other- rage,pain,rage,pain,rage,pain. Its Creepy. Really really creepy. The book is just plain bad.
If you care what happens to Bryndan blackfish, and other minor characters from the first three, and want to hear hours of descriptions of who was at the battle and what their coat of arms looked like and what they ate at the feast you would be thrilled.
If you want a decent story line, even a little excitement, If you want to know what happened to (excuse my haphazard spelling on all of these) Deaneries and her dragons, Bran and Ricken, John on the wall, any mention of a dire wolf; skip this book completely. There are almost non existent. Remember how the last book ends w/lady Katherine? she shows up two brief scenes in the whole book.
The last five minutes is Martin's explanation that he soon realized he would need TWO books to finish the series. Instead of cutting out the chaff, instead of dividing it so each story half finished, he was going to finish half the stories (of the people no one gives a crap about) and we wait for (and buy) the final (I HOPE) book to figure out what happens to the characters from the first book that I have suffered through the rest of this series in order to hear the end of. Eight credits and over 110 hours in, I think I've given Mr. Martin every opportunity to finish the story. I don't even care anymore.
Also its a new narrator and he changes not only the pronunciation, but also the accented syllable of EVERY SINGLE name in the book, people, places, beasts- I think Jamie was the only one to stay the same. It seemed almost deliberate that he had to pt his own stamp on this reading and make it as different as possible from the previous. It was intensely irritating to try and figure out who he was talking about. There are enough characters in this 120hour mess already- now all their names are changed and we have to figure out who they are? If you do insist on wasting your credits, re-listen to the last one before you start this mess.
I like funny and quirky and mysterious, so I thought I would like this book.
Its mildly entertaining, but not very funny and a LOT of the back story is just a HUGE waste of time. This was one of those rare audiobooks that, while it wasn't so bad that it annoyed me, my mind would wander to the point where I missed entire sections and I didn't bother to rewind it. I didn't even bother to turn it off if I had to stop listening to answer the phone or type an email. I just let it run and picked up again 10 minutes later.
While some of the episodes might have been hilarious had the right joker told them, somehow they're not. Its like they tried for some Jacques Clouseau style moments but missed the mark. Ever hear a joke that made you fall off your chair, and later heard someone else tell the same joke and not get a single chuckle? This is the later. I can't tell who's fault it is, writer or narrator, (I'm leaning toward narrator) there are many situations that should be very humorous, laugh outloud on the subway humorous, but they way they are described, they simply aren't. One of these guys is a bad storyteller.
As for the mstery... there aren't any major twists or turns, The author never tried to trick you into thinking its a different character, its pretty upfront. You have no reason to suspect anyone until the author tells you who did it. You just have to wait for the author to give you the information. There is no mystery "tease". Its okay, there are no glaring discrepancies, and it does all come together, I simply can't manage to care....
I would agree with the other reviewers in thir description of the story, but I have to say it went on way too long. There are only so many religous introductory classes and experiences you can listen too before they all start to sound the same. I really liked the first 5 hours but toward the end I couldn't stay interested.
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