Dan Brown novels are not high literary masterpieces, nor do I think that's why anyone reads them.
If you are looking for mild escapism peddling through a predictable (sorry) story that pretty much follows the same Dan Brown outline of his previous Robert Langdon novels, then you'll enjoy it, much like rediscovering a pair of lost, but comfortable shoes after a couple months.
The narration was so-so ... I've heard better and I've heard worse ... and some of his vocal characterizations, made only worse by very wooden language on the part of Mr. Brown, would make me cringe, but after awhile, you get over it.
I think my biggest pet peeve of this book is the dialogue. Stilted, wooden, I'm actually surprised as to how poor it was, or how lazy Mr. Brown was in its construction. It really turns the characters into archetypes -- perhaps they're real people, but all that gets through is the veneer of any of them.
BUT...it's a summer listen, and like I did, if you're in need of something while walking a stretch of beach, this will do, and it won't tax your mind greatly,
Tony Horwitz' detailed account of the doomed raid that sparked the Civil War really is an amazing book. What I appreciated most were all the resources that the author availed of himself to paint a picture of John Brown that makes him less a "madman" and more detailed in three dimensions: resolute, not the best planner, earnest, honest, sincere in his beliefs. I think the rush to justice after his plot failed was just as interesting and speaks to many ways how politics and the media made his place in history more than he ever could. If you haven't listened to "Confederates in the Attic", another wonderful book from Tony Horwitz, I'd recommend it.
I should have returned this book, but I didn't want to abuse Audible's very friendly return policy.
This book is what you'd expect if a thirteen year old boy, jacked up on breakfast cereal would write.
I don't want to sound mean but it is awful in so many ways:
1. Narrator's voice (written) has no humor despite many failed attempts. Because it's first person, all we ever see of the foes are archetypes of who they are.
2. the whole thing sounds ripped off from X-Men, only here, the "X-Men" or "Epics" are bad guys.
3. In the most suspenseful parts, it is so poorly written that you care not if the good guys win or fail.
This is, in many ways, a turd of a book. But there are some people liking it. Go figure. Good for them. I'm not one of them.
I liked how the author carved up the America into 11 smaller "nations". It provided a fresh perspective on how how conflicts we still face today can be found in the distrust and apathy that certain nations held against each other since the beginning. Great listen.
It's more of a romance than it is a story, and worse, it features yet another helpless woman who has to be supported by a "strong" male vampire. Maybe it's like Twilight for adults, but as I never read Twilight, I haven't a clue. But after reading this first one, I won't reach out for any more.
My preferred replacement, if you were to ask me: "Dreams and Shadows" or even "The Passage". Both distinctly different books, but at least you'll have characters you care about, in addition to strong female characters.
I liked the Magicians, but at the same time, I couldn't stand the main character, Quentin, a character who is strewn into so much self loathing, that I too, loathed him. It would have been nice to see growth from him, but there wasn't much of that. That, and most of the main characters are equally unlikeable from a status perspective. It's like watching the popular kids in high school and hoping they trip up holding their lunch tray, to have it land in their faces.
That aside, I liked the tone, the fantastical element. I think the book would be better served with a long prologue that takes us through Fillory. This world is so important to the book, it needs to be better served to the reader.
If you want a 5-star experience all around, try "Dreams and Shadows", which is awesome in every way.
First, I think Daniel Suarez is super-smart. The guy knows his stuff, and I really loved his first two novels. This novel has a very interesting plot, very intricately crafted, but where it falls is in its characters.
Characters are less flesh and blood and more archetypes of "kinds" of people: idealistic scientist, megalomaniacal bad guy, super intelligent sexy woman with a heart of gold, yada yada yada. Especially in the beginning, I had a hard time beginning this book...it took me about 3 or 4 starts. Why? Because the characters weren't speaking to each other; each instead was verbally spewing their own pronouncements, almost like a scientfic version of a passion play.
I like Mr. Suarez' plot mechanics and if you can get past that, then you can enjoy the ride on this 2D Thriller Porn, but I would hope that he can spend more time developing his characters so that I actually care about them and care about their progress in the story line.
The narrator, was OK. Not my favorite and really didn't do a great job of vocal characterizations.
I love the Dresden series...the characters, their growth, the main character, his wise-assery, his dog, his take on the world, his engagement with his environment, the narrator, the author, everything.
This is the only literary series that I'm crazy about. Read it.
I have been a Dresden fan since the first book. Love them all. I also saw how this book, Ghost Story, was pilloried because, in a rare circumstance, James Marsters wasn't the narrator. And because of that, I saw a bunch of folks giving the poor book a 1-star rating.
Let me join the chorus of readers to say that I, too, missed the original narrator. The book series has grown with Marsters and, yes, it's "his voice" that I imagine for the characters, and yes, Glover's voice caught me off guard. However, be honest: had John Glover been the narrator since the first book, and if it was Marsters that was subbing, I'm pretty sure all the Glover-haters would have piled on to Marsters as a sub.
The moral of the story: get over the narrator issue. Concentrate on the story.
And the story was just as smart-assingly (can that be an adverb???) good as all the previous books in the series.
In fact, while I never thought I'd love serialized fiction as much as I do the Dresden files, the reality is I LOVE this series, and I give the author a lot of credit for allowing his characters to grow, occasionally die, and develop. It's been very gratifying.
Hope to be enjoying this series for a long time to come.
I really enjoyed this book, and thought the author did a good job, especially when recounting the origins of wine or beer, in tracing the history of these two drinks. And this book is definitely worth listening to, but my disappointment is with the incomplete nature of the book, mostly in the spirits section. Rum and whiskey are given ample time, but what about vodka's obvious influence on Russia and how did that (or did not) impact the kind of societies that developed there? Or tequila and Mexico? What about rice spirits in Asian contents, whether sake or something else? Without touching on these other topics, the work seems slanted to the obvious Western European culture, but we're missing, I assume, some wonderful histories of these drinks in these far flung cultures.
But...the stuff that's in here is nice. I just wish the author would have invested more time in a more comprehensive picture.
As someone who was raised Catholic but left a long, long time ago, I enjoyed this book from a historical perspective. The writer, who is obviously pro-Catholic, did a thorough and complete job in painting a realistic picture of the pantheon of popes who've come our way, praises, warts and all.
I come way from this book, appreciating the history but am much stronger in my convictions that there is nothing godly about the institution of the Catholic Church, but rather, its very--sorry to say--humanness in its conniving nature, its sexual escapades, its search for raw power, etc.
I don't know how anyone could read this book and then come away with the thought that this is a religion that came from a higher source. But there will be those who read it that way, and all the power to them, I guess.
But I think it illustrates perfectly how the growth of the Catholic church is much like the layers of an onion, or more accurately, a perverse game of "Telephone", played as a kid. Did you ever play that? One kid starts by whispering one thing into the ear of the kid next to him or her. Then each kid does the same thing, whispering into the next kids ear. By the time you get to the end, what the last kid says is normally 100 percent different than what was originally said.
So, too, the Catholic church. Its beginnings may have come from someone who was radical (at the time) and challenged traditional thought, but over the years, each gilded layer of the onion has come to produce a mega-rich institution, highly ornate, theatrical, and slow-moving in its errors.
I appreciate this book for its honesty. An entertaining history of human foibles.
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