Kay is one of my favorite authors and his poetic style is good for audio. However, there were some odd things about this book. The hero is seen in a certain role and suddenly he appears in a different one with very little or no explanation and this happens several times. There's an incident in his youth that makes him what he is and that is never shown and only alluded to very generally. On the other hand some scenes and conversations are repeated several times, so that Character A & B converse, later Character A remembers it, then Character B remembers it in the same words, and so on. Simon Vance does a good job but it is hard to keep straight all the Chinese names and families without any list or family tree to refer to. I think this wouldn't be the best introduction to this author unless you really are interested in Chinese history. The amount of fantasy is very small and could be explained away, it's really more of an alternative history
The main character is a clever idea, a mystery writer who actually is himself a thief. I liked his personality and his attempts to work out his novel's plot. But in some ways he was awfully dense in solving the mystery of this story. And the plot became pretty unlikely. At one point the hero just happens to be at a particular spot to recognize a clue. It was also a bit more violent than I like, I think more than was necessary. The narrator was very good and kept me interested, but overall this was nothing special and I probably won't continue with the series
From the descriptions, I thought this would be a medical thriller about a pandemic sweeping the world. That's a category I don't particularly care for, but I knew with John Scalzi writing it, there would be some heartwarming moments and some humor. It turns out the pandemic is only the backstory. The main story is a police mystery and a look at future technology.
I have the version with a choice of two narrators but to me Will Wheaton IS John Scalzi, and vice versa. (I got to hear Scalzi read once and they actually do sound alike!) So I doubt I'll even listen to the other reader.
Besides being creative and funny, Scalzi always has a message about respect and human connection (or even nonhuman in some books). Here he has a great hero who is a decent and peace loving guy but can really kick some butt when he needs to -and enjoy it.
I was a bit disappointed that the last section was the "prequel" rather than more of the main book. I wasn't as interested in hearing other voices or characters at that point. There certainly could be sequels and I'd snap them up.
Nothing deep or serious here, just geeky fun. I'm not sure if the audience is supposed to be young adults. It would certainly work for them. Fans of Ready Player One should enjoy it, but it's lighter in tone. Give a guy magic powers and all he wants is unlimited burritos, beer and board games - plus flying is not bad.
It wasn't what I expected from the description of a modern young techie adrift in the Middle Ages, but that's the point, he doesn't find what he expected either. The well-done narration contributes to the humor.
I found this appealing but I'm sure many listeners will be annoyed by the mostly well-off East Coast young people whining about what they don't have or can't do. It could have been shorter. Also it's mostly in chronological order but then items will be thrown in out of order for no particular reason.
The characters' happiest times are in high school at their arts camp. For many of us, being an adult is way better than adolescence but those people keep trying to return to their youth, which of course never works.
The narration is very good and it kept my attention. It's an interesting contrast with Shotgun Lovesongs, which is also about a group of friends in middle age regretting their lost youth. I think that one was deeper than this book.
Yes, these books are all sort of the same but I don't care. I hope Spencer Quinn keeps writing them forever and Jim Frangione stays on forever as the voice of Chet. I was on a trip last week, exhausted and jet lagged, and I couldn't focus on a print book or a more serious audiobook. I put this on and immediately was smiling and chuckling.
Chet and Bernie are in a new setting here of Washington DC and of course they immediately run across a murder. But what really matters as usual is the wonderful relationship between man and dog, and the great dog's-eye view of the world.
In a way this is a typical Ian Rutledge mystery, with the long shadow of WWI cast over events. There are some interesting minor characters introduced. But Rutledge's struggles and the presence of Hamish (most unusual sidekick ever) are less featured. Simon Prebble is always good though I found it hard to distinguish some of the many characters by voice.
I don't know who would be more envious, 21st century kids or 21st century parents, of a time and place where kids, aged 7 to at most 14, can sail real boats, swim, camp, build fires, use knives, etc. with no adult supervision for days on end. The kids know they are responsible for everything and they live up to the demands. Sure, this is fiction, but it is based on the author's childhood. These are the people who would grow up to deal with the Battle of Britain, air raids and rationing with the motto "Keep Calm and Carry On".
The kids also have great imaginations, and the girls are just as good at sailing and climbing as the boys, which is very impressive for a story from the 1930's. One of the girls, whose name was probably Letitia but goes by the (to Americans) unfortunate name of Titty, is always the first to suggest bloodthirsty adventures.
I'm not sure why a woman narrates, as the author was a man and the kids are of both genders, but it works fine. Apparently some British listeners disliked the narration as too much like a governess, but I thought it was good, and she was able to keep the voices of the various characters distinct.
The story is told by Maude who is increasingly suffering from dementia. Talk about an unreliable narrator! But because we hear what is happening in her brain, we understand that everything makes a kind of sense, other people just don't see those connections. This book made me want to be more patient with and interested in my aging relatives.
The narration is brilliant. The great Davina Porter captures the many sudden mood changes and confusions while keeping the heroine relatable. Also there are parts of the story that are early memories, and Porter changes her voice enough so that she is still Maude but a younger one.
This is a story right out of Austen, Trollope, or Dickens, all about social class, money, property, marriages, and society. But all the characters are dragons. It's really charming to read about the dragons putting on hats, attending church, riding on trains (when flying isn't socially acceptable), and then sitting down to a few raw cows for dinner. And if tensions between them get too high, they just eat each other! A tour de force and very well narrated.
When I first heard about this book, I thought "I can't handle ANOTHER story from WWII. But the reviews said it was "luminous", "extraordinary", and that it dealt with the relationship of two young people during the war. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that their intersection takes up maybe 5 minutes of the book. And I wish I had listened to my original concerns.
One theme of the book is the spiral as seen in shells, drains, etc. and the book structured in the form of a spiral. A number of elements start out far apart and as the story circles around and repeatedly comes back to them, they get closer and closer together until they reach the point of connection. A clever idea, but I think it would have been more effective if the author hadn't started the book with a scene from almost the end, then gone back to show how the characters got to that point, while sometimes interspersing scenes from the "present". I don't mind that the book isn't linear, though some readers did get confused, especially in audio. But since we know the direction the story will go, and we know how WWII turned out, there's not much suspense. I felt more dread - which manifestations of the evils of war will these particular characters have to suffer through before they arrive at the scene that opened the book? (cold, hunger, betrayal, illness, loss?)
There are a number of big questions addressed and they aren't subtle. What is free will? What is courage? What is the power of human communication, human knowledge, and human imagination? What is guilt and what is innocence? The more the book went on, the less its characters seemed like real people to me and the more they were symbols.
The narration was fine, and the narrator handled the French and German pretty well but it was so slow that I ended up using the double speed on my iPod, which I've never done before. Sometimes I wished I could have speeded up even more. That's an indication that the book was not grabbing me. For audiobooks I usually want them to last and I want to savor the performance rather than get through in a hurry.
Please check out other reviews as most people loved this book and its writing. Maybe I just need a longer break from any book involving Nazis!
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