Okay book. I used to live in Chicago and appreciate the details. However, AM I THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN'T STAND SCOTT BRICK? I'd probably give the book five stars, but the narration kills it for me. It's this endless barrage of patronizing (and yet cheesy) narration. Scott Brick makes every book sound like the frickin' da Vinci Code. But, hey, maybe I'm being too hard. Can someone enlighten me as to what's so great about Scott Brick? I'm considering not ever getting an audiobook narrated by him again.
The book seems like it went at a snail's pace. Why? Maybe it's the narrator, maybe it's the fact that the exposition is so sparse and uninteresting that you feel like you're constantly waiting for something to happen... I don't know. What kind of bugs me about this book is that there really isn't one likable character--- maybe the villain. The two protagonists are supposed to be ex-special forces badasses who are longtime friends. The author seems to take extraordinary pleasure in writing long-winded, chummy banter between the two which serves little to move the story along or give us any reason to like them. This is just a small example of the generally casual and sporadic exposition. I just checked the book description on Amazon and it appears that the book is 416 pages long. This is a problem as a good editor might have stripped this down to 200 after taking out all of the boring, meandering dialogue. Maybe Kuzneski gets paid by the page?
As far as the narrator is concerned, he's tasked with producing several disparate voices, some foreign. Burdened with a natural, grandpa-ish avuncular white guy voice, some of the characters are really a bit of a stretch. For instance, one of the protagonists is a black man and the narrator's rendition sounds like an old white guy doing an impression of Danny Glover, filtered through some off-color take on jive-talking smart-alecs straight out of the Jeffersons or Good Times. Now imagine you got that guy drunk and jammed a bunch of marbles in his mouth. That's what he sounds like. Total squirmfest.
In the end the story itself is kind of mediocre (as these things go) and there really isn't much of a sense of urgency in what one would expect to be a thriller. Getting through to the end just seemed like a chore fueled by my unreasonable, OCD-like need to finish what I started.
So the thing about this book is that it takes the protagonists a VERY long time to figure stuff out, even when 99% of it is spelled out for them. It's like watching "Wheel of Fortune." Combined with the sloooow narration, it's kind of frustrating.
Other annoying stuff: being a dude, the romance stuff seems a little tedious. Also, isn't Yoshima supposed to be American? Why does the narrator give me a Charlie Chan accent? WTF?
Imagine having to hang out for seven hours with a pretentious nephew, who continuously expounds on the philosophical nuances of "The Matrix," talks about jonesing for cloves and, oh yeah, has some lame vocal affectations... and you have an idea of what listening to this is like. For the most part, it just seemed like pseudo-intellectual rambling and, if I weren't a completist I would have quit this 20 minutes into it.
The vocal affectations were sometimes distracting and came off as pretentious (think of a friend going to England for semester abroad and returning only to refuse to use the words 'sweater'or 'flashlight' when they can say 'jumper' and 'torch.'). The narrator continually pronounces the word "bury" as "burry" (rhymes with "flurry")... for fun go to 4h50m and listen to him say "burry" about twenty times in the space of a minute and then you'll get an idea. There are a number of other mispronunciations that were, to a lesser degree, also annoying. It's the audio equivalent to not having a copy editor I guess.
I found the snotty adolescent narration so distracting, that I think it's hard to tell whether the book itself had much merit. In any case, I found the whole Matrix-theme a little cheesy and I had no sympathy with any of the characters.
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