I have listened to all of Baldacci's books on Audible.com and usually find them very entertaining, so I was looking forward to Camel Club. This one was a huge disappointment and I do not recommend it.
It reads like he wrote the general plot outline and then contracted it out to a less-capable writer.
The expositions (coming every chapter) on why the Moslem world has a bone to pick with Britain and US are overkill with a capital O. OK, we get it! Plus, it is all stuff everyone has heard before, ad infinitum, and often it does not fit into the scene. It is far beyond character motivation and background.
The female Secret Service agent's constant whining and need to prove herself are an insult to female Secret Service agents. In the middle of stealthily crossing a darkened room that may contain assassins, she stops to complain that the male agent is going first!
The entire conspiracy at the heart of the book is quite confusing - what did the plotter really hope to accomplish? Given that he almost blew up the planet, I'd say it was flawed logic from the beginning. And, eek, it looks like Baldacci plans to bring him back in future books.
The actions of acting President were ludicrous in the extreme. The only person who would write that is one who truly thinks the other political side are evil simpletons without consciences. I found it completely unbelieveable.
The ultimate actions of the intelligence director were also beyond belief - I didn't see the motivation at all.
This all comes down to bad writing, and writing apparently colored by the author's need to expound on his own views of the world at the expense of a good plot and logical motivations for the characters. Baldacci needs to learn from authors who can do it right. I have found books like The Kite Runner very enlightening in understanding the recent history of the Moslem world. It can be done without insulting your audience.
I normally wouldn't read a book of this description, I'm not into fantasy. I'm not sure why I bought it. It sat in my My Library for a couple of years before I finally listened to it. Neil Gaiman's performance of his own work blew me away. He is an amazing reader, in addition to being a fantastic writer. His vocal performance of the different characters gave each of them an individual personality. And it really enhanced the listening knowing that the text was delivered exactly as the author intended.
So while I would normally have been turned off by the subject matter, instead I was enthralled. I rate this as one of my favorite "listens" ever.
You just can't make this story up. Louis is a complex guy. But how he managed to survive is beyond amazing. It's a story of resilience without making him out to be a hero. Just a human being like the rest of us who managed to come through. And you just have to wonder at the darkness of humanity that let such horrors happen. That he then found the grace to forgive is even more amazing. Edward Hermann's narration does it all justice.
Narrator made poor accent choices and vocal character choices
I'd say to read the book if you like thrillers but skip the audiobook.
Why use an NYC accent for a SF cop? The villain's voice was just too overblown villain-y. I didn't like the way the narrator lingered over the gruesome details. As for writing -- the author completely messed up lab results for anemia. The counts were typical of low white cell counts, but NOT low red cell counts. Such a thing would be very easy to check, he should fire his medical advisor!
I'd recommend reading "Omnivore's Dilemma" and "Botany of Desire" first before this novel, to get a good idea of the issues and potato farming today (and also because they are great reads.) I enjoyed this novel, the characters were interesting and complex. It didn't get too preachy for me, I thought it all hung together well.
I appreciated the voice talent, but I almost abandoned the novel because, honey, those aren't Idaho accents. My dad and his family are from Idaho, and these characters sounded deeply East Coast. That really hurt it for me, especially since I chose the book because of our family roots in same setting as the book.
I am a big fan of Nelson DeMille's other books, but Wild Fire was so contrived that it felt more like a badly-written James Bond movie. I hate having to say that because DeMille has never disappointed me before. The bad guy just has to gloat over his evil plot to the good guys. Even insane bad guys know that is too risky. Our heroes, Kate and John, do not have compelling enough reason to risk their careers in pulling maverick moves on the investigation. Kate seems to be just along for banter and window dressing, I am sure she would have shut down John's dumb moves in a better-written novel. Contrived plot points put them in the right places at the right times.
On the good side, Scott Brick's narration is stellar as usual, he is my favorite. The banter is witty. I'll definitely listen to any other DeMille books, but this one was a big disappointment.
My boss insisted I listen to this book IMMEDIATELY - she wanted to share it and discuss it. It is a book you loathe coming to an end because each character is fascinating and the story so rich in details, truth, and humor.
Even without the hinge of the character's hermaphroditism, this is a great story with unforgettable characters and scenes - from the grandparents falling in love and escaping from Turkey to the parents upward mobility to the true-to-life teen angst. The author captures exactly what it was like to be a girl in the 1970's - right down to the shampoo, bath powder, etc.
The reader is a likewise a true talent, he brings to life each character - I loved listening to him.
If the hinge of the story puts you off, don't let it. This is not an "issues" book, although by the end you will have a deep appreciation of intersexed individuals. And you will have enjoyed the most entertaining book I have listened to - EVER.
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