This marked the second fictional audiobook that I have listened to. At first, the narrator’s voice felt stiff, and almost computer-ish - but once the story itself became more interesting, the narrator’s voice started to sound more dynamic. Though some of Swanson’s “voices” for the dialogue blended together (causing moments of confusion), the writing itself retained its clarity so I never felt overly lost in Bacigalupi’s dystopian, flooded world.
Though this book would most likely be a one-sitting-read for me, by listening to it only at work, I really drew out the experience and I think savored it a lot more. I could easily see why comparisons were made to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, but this felt like a very different sort of dystopia - and one that answered a lot more of those questions concerning the transition between modern civilization to this fictional breakdown. Bacigalupi strayed a few times onto a soap box (the importance of diversity, global warming, differences between class), but the YA market often leads to those kind of PSA-feeling topics. Overall, those moments don’t detract from the strength of the overall story. A few repetitive phrases (pain always “blossomed” or “exploded”) distracted me a bit - but that might be more due to the audio version than something that I would actively notice in a printed version.
Bacigalupi created likable characters - I especially liked Tool and Nailer. Of all the characters, Tool was felt the most intriguing to me. He was enigmatic and genuinely fascinating. It is mostly due to him that I already purchased to listen the sequel, The Drowned Cities. Tool reminded me a bit of Ron Pearlman’s Beast - at least that was what he looked like in my head, anyways... And this crumbling society and land utterly captivated me, too, so I am also looking forward to hearing more about it as well. It’s dark, but age-appropriate and I think a book that would definitely interest younger, male readers.
I have truly enjoyed several of Chamberlain’s other books - both in print and in audio. This one, unfortunately, is far from my favorite of her work. Though Chamberlain’s books all have a certain Lifetime-movie-quality, this one feels more like a re-run... the story feels overly familiar and even the subplots fail to add an unexpected element (despite the bombings, even!). The performer narrates the audio version has a smooth voice, and though she handles the male characters well, the timbre she uses for Lucy in particular is almost painfully brash. It certainly makes me thankful that she is such a relatively minor character!
Originally published in 1997, this book certainly feels a bit dated listening to it now. Particularly in the way that the research is handled, and how many different factors would change in today’s world were the same story to be told. The Internet really has changed daily lives! The early computer technology that is mentioned here will certainly make modern readers reminisce over their own memories.
But, ultimately, these are not Chamberlain’s best characters. Suzanne/Kim is not easily likable and the other characters, like Peggy, just don’t feel as realistic or complex as other characters in Chamberlain’s other novels. The pacing drags in the middle, and unlike other audiobooks that I have listened to by Chamberlain, I never once found myself exploiting every opportunity to listen. I am still a big fan of Chamberlain, but this one just feels more bland by comparison.
I just love Chamberlain’s books! She is a wonderful writer who masterfully creates characters that tug on a reader’s (and in this case, listener’s) heartstrings. And her plots also hook in her audience so tightly that I set aside my usual audibook-listening routine of my commute and have instead been illicitly listening at work and even using headphones at home! The three narrators here each have distinctive voices and the performers all do a wonderful job. The North Carolina accents add to the authenticity of the characters. And though the plot ultimately plays out in a predictable conclusion, I don’t think that any other ending would have been satisfying and any predictability in no way diminishes the storyline.
Really, the only thing that nagged at me throughout the story is a rather minor detail. A house fire sets the entire book in motion and there is not a single mention of insurance... A fire is almost entirely covered, so no mention of it all sticks out a bit. But, without the fire, Tyler’s story would not have been as dramatic - or as engrossing - but I wish that at least a mention of how the homeowner’s insurance was overdue or something had been made... But, really, I am looking forward to both reading and listening to more of Chamberlain’s books. She is a talented author and this is a very well-performed audiobook!
Though I have read a few of Chamberlain’s other books, this is the first audiobook of hers that I have listened to and I love it! It’s a completely absorbing story and one that makes me sneak in listening to it at every opportunity - not just in the car like I usually do. It’s an engrossing plot with characters that it is impossible not to sympathize with. It reels you in from the very first chapter. With a variety of narrators (five in all), the performers do a wonderful job of using their voices to bring these characters to life. The plot - full of secrets, twists and turns - contains some expected paths and some surprises, too.
This family drama reminds me a bit of a Lifetime movie in some ways as the sheer amount of drama continues to amplify throughout the entire book. And with Chamberlain’s penchant for cliffhangers, the book is hard to turn away from. The story ranges through time and each character feels distinct, but still so relatable - even through some terrible choices. In some ways, Chamberlain’s books remind me of Jodi Picoult’s - though without the set formula. Chamberlain is very talented and I look forward to reading - and listening - to more of her work!
This audiobook was both a fascinating and fun listen! It was definitely the highlight of my commute - and brightened some household chores as well! I first encountered Hare’s studies in a magazine article and later in a documentary special (on PBS, I think). And though there was more context into the studies, there wasn’t quite as much detail and new information as I had hoped for. Despite some of this overlap, though, this was still a very interesting listen. The authors offered more of a historical perspective and also studies that showed conflicting results. Though the author’s obvious affection for dogs might seem like it would obviously skew the results, their devotion to the scientific method and maintaining genuine objectivity was still quite evident.
Amongst the clear descriptions of experiments, the authors offered anecdotes and examples of dog genius outside of the lab. I especially enjoyed the section of speculation on the true history of the domestication of the wolf and development of the dog. The conversational style worked well in the audio format, and I sincerely hope that the authors continue to publish their findings in this mainstream medium. While the narrator was not the most dynamic, his voice worked well for this non-fiction topic. A physical format, though, would lend itself better as a stepping stone for further independent research, so I will be keeping an eye out for the physical format as well. All in all, though, this was a great listen and I will continue to follow their research into dog-nition.
I first became curious about Burke’s books after reading his daughter’s mystery novel, If You Were Here, last May. Though I don’t usually listen to mysteries, I decided to give this one a try - and I am glad that I did! The narrator does a wonderful job of bringing Dave Robicheaux to life (and I was even more surprised to recognize the performer’s voice while flipping through channels - he played a DA in a made-for-TV movie!). The narrator brings the other characters - and their regional accents - to life quite well. And if the remainder of the series (nineteen more books!) were available in unabridged versions by this same narrator, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase the rest in this format! That is how wonderful the performance is!
As for the storyline itself, the plot holds some big surprises, but the real strength of the novel lies in the way it captures New Orleans and its surrounds. The ending makes me curious to explore how this has spawned such a long-lived series as it feels quite complete. And though initially published in 1987, there is still something very modern about the book (though, naturally, there are hints to its time period in the lack of cell phones, some crime scene tech, etc). I am looking forward to following this series!
This audiobook is definitely the most star-studded one that I have ever listened to! From Martin Scorsese to F. Murray Abraham, each voice in this oral history sounds familiar - and in a way, it is a bit distracting - especially while driving and trying to listen and look up online just who’s voice is speaking. But, once the mystery of the identity is solved (some of the voices are instantly recognizable like Carl Reiner and Alan Alda), though it is easy to become absorbed in this history of the zombie apocalypse.
I have been hearing good things about this book for a long time - but though I own a printed copy, I am actually really glad that I listened to it first! It is such a fun experience to listen to this surprisingly global view on the history of the war of the zombies. Brooks offers a surprisingly full story. It’s a moving story in parts (the dog chapter really made me cry!) and is completely riveting. And because of the strength of the performances, this is one audiobook that I imagine that I will listen to again. Zombies may not be my favorite subgenre, but this is one of the better zombie books that I have experienced!
This audiobook left me with some mixed feelings. But, in regards to the performance, the author herself reads the book aloud in a wonderful manner. She has a lovely and lively reading voice and the accents all sound quite convincing - not only in just keeping the Miss Teen Dream contestants apart, but also in the accents of Ladybird Hope, the Bodacious Babes British pirates and even a crazed dictator. On this level it is an entertaining and lively and well-performed listen with special effects at just the right parts to augment the fun. And this Audible edition concludes with a bonus interview of the author which offers insight into Bray’s motivations and inspirations for telling this story. Actually, the interview contains more emotional depth than the entire novel that precedes it.
It’s not that I disliked the book - it’s a campy, fun idea for a novel that works well in engaging readers from the very beginning. A plane, full of beauty pageant contestants, crashes and maroons the surviving girls on what at first appears to be a deserted island. Despite the storyline, the book is less Lord of the Flies and more Gilligan’s Island. Not all 50 contestants make it, but it’s a sizable enough crowd that there are still major and minor characters (poor Miss New Mexico runs around the whole novel with her only remarkable trait the airplane tray that is lodged in her forehead) but with the varying accents it is quite easy to keep them all straight.
The book is set in a vaguely dystopian future where all is run by The Corporation. This drives the entire plot and also provides ample fodder for the satire (Bray puts her past experience in advertising to hilarious use here). Unfortunately, the soapboxing that comes with all the satire goes beyond mocking The Corporation. As almost (sorry, Miss New Mexico) each girl begins to be developed each one deals with a different key issue - being Indian, black, gay, transgendered, intellectual, ditzy, deaf, slutty. It’s a lot to cram in one book - and ultimately, it leaves none of their struggles feeling particularly genuine. Plus, despite some references to diets, makeup, waxing, at the end of the day, they are all still beauty queens so body image - a topic that I fully expected to be beaten over the head with - isn’t really addressed at all. When mixed in with the hunky pirates, utterly ridiculous plot and by the tenth hour, I was just anxious for the book to be over. I wish that it had been more tightly edited, less politically motivated. It had some very fun moments, though, some genuinely funny moments, but it just wasn’t the book I had hoped for - especially considering the rather shallow “happily every after” epilogue that wraps up the novel.
This audiobook is read aloud by the author himself, which I think adds quite a lot to it. As Ronson navigates madness - focusing primarily on psychopaths - he manages to include a surprising amount of humour, as well as his own varied emotions along the path of his investigation. He meets with a wide range of individuals as part of his research, and it is perhaps this wide scope that makes this both entertaining, but a bit scattered to listen to. There is an attempt to pull together the entire book in the mystery of a strange novel mailed to an international group of recipients (Being or Nothingness), but as a framework it really fails to support the meat of the novel - psychopathy.
From Scientologists to psychiatrists to psychopaths both imprisoned and free, Ronson collects a range of thoughts and opinions on the realms of mental illness. The entire industry from facilities, to patients, to doctors are tied in, The book moves along at a fast pace and it is genuinely impossible to predict what avenue Ronson will investigate next. With a narrower focus, the book would feel a lot more cohesive, but in this manner there are plenty of thought-provoking and fascinating ideas presented. All in all, it definitely made my commute a more interesting one!
This audiobook is, quite simply, a ton of fun! I can hardly imagine actually reading it - that is just how strong of a performance Scott Aiello, the narrator, gives! Like Martinez’s other novels, this is a rather mad-cap adventure full of hilarity, witty humour and some quite likable - not to mention unforgettable - characters. The novel is set primarily on Earth (or Terra as it is referred to here) and seems inspired by 1950s-60s type space dramas. The titular character, Emperor Mollusk, hails from Neptune (though they don’t care for him much back there). Mollusk has conquered Terra (without a single gunshot fired!), but has retired from the world-conquering business after some recent unpleasantness with Saturn.
When a Venutian warrior with a grudge attempts to take Mollusk under protective custody (to later try him for his crimes committed on Venus), she ends up falling in with Mollusk and his faithful ultra-pede (a centipede from Hell) as they track down the assassination plot to its perpetrator. Their adventures range from Atlantis, a Lost World type island in the Bermuda triangle, a visit to the moon and some epic battles with the radioactive brain of Madame Curie. The tale is filled with adventure, excitement and plenty of laughs.
The performance, though, really sets the book apart. The voices Aiello creates for each character are wonderful and quite distinct. He makes Mollusk sound like a cross between the Dread Pirate Roberts and Stewie Griffin. The Brain also sounds quite like Vizzini and there are many other convincing and entertaining voices throughout. Not only will I continue to follow Martinez’s work, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this very talented narrator as well!
Unfortunately, this audiobook was not my favorite - which perhaps explains why it was so easy to take a long break from listening to it! It is not a bad book, really, but the author chose to have this coming-of-age-story be relayed through journal entries. I think it would have perhaps been more successful in print version. Though I originally though that the accent would add to the fun of this, the narrator’s voice can be a bit distracting in the performance with some accents overly emphasized. What I like the most about the book is the obvious passion the journaler, Mor, has for reading - particularly Science Fiction novels. Though I have read quite a bit in this genre as well, this book includes her reactions to many titles that I had never even heard of! In fact, the majority of the book seems to be an outlet for discussion on SF literature - with a few classics sprinkled in. School, Mor’s fractured family life, romance and bits of magic are all rather sidelined by recountings of plots, characters, authors and a consistent dislike of maths. The climax feels rather rushed and genuinely unsatisfying - nor does it seem to mesh with the preceding pages (hours listening). Maybe it’s just that Walton too accurately captured a fifteen year old and that is why I never quite connected with the narrator...
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