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Finch | [Jeff VanderMeer]

Finch

Mysterious underground inhabitants known as the gray caps have reconquered the failed fantasy state Ambergris and put it under martial law. They are controlling the human inhabitants with strange addictive drugs, internment in camps, and random acts of terror. The rebel resistance is scattered, and the gray caps are using human labor to build two strange towers. John Finch must solve an impossible double murder for his gray cap masters while trying to make contact with the rebels.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Jeff VanderMeer, master of the New Weird, has done it again in his latest Ambergris novel. Noir detective story meets eldritch fantasy in Finch, with a cast of crooked cops, a femme fatale, a loyal partner, a mysterious underworld boss, two dead bodies — and sentient fungal life forms.

Audie Award-winning narrator Oliver Wyman deftly carries us into the dark world of John Finch, a man who has survived The Rising, a war between humans and the gray caps, a sentient fungus. Humanity has lost authority to the gray caps. Humans are kept in internment camps, except when they're needed by the gray caps — people like Finch. Finch isn't sure why they need him, but they do. They call him a detective, and so that's what he is. Whether he likes it or not.

Finch is assigned a case: two dead bodies — one human, one gray cap — that appear to have fallen from a great height, into a closed room. The case leads him from a dark world into an even darker underworld, in which no one is who they appear — maybe not even Finch.

To hear Wyman's treatment of Finch, you would think that gritty and noir is simply what he excels at, and that he was cast for that reason — until you hear his dialogue, and the way he voices Finch's love interest, or the Partials, or Finch's spore-infected and disintegrating partner as he's being slowly colonized by fungus. Wyman is a gifted voice actor with a huge range of credits to his name, and he brings VanderMeer's cast to life. Tension and dream sequences are underscored by original music from Murder By Death.

Finch was short-listed for both the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award, and with good reason. While it follows the previous Ambergris novels, it stands alone, and can be recommended as a first-time listener's portal into VanderMeer's world of Ambergris. —Christie Yant

Publisher's Summary

Mysterious underground inhabitants known as the gray caps have reconquered the failed fantasy state Ambergris and put it under martial law. They have disbanded House Hoegbotton and are controlling the human inhabitants with strange addictive drugs, internment in camps, and random acts of terror. The rebel resistance is scattered, and the gray caps are using human labor to build two strange towers.

Against this backdrop, John Finch, who lives alone with a cat and a lizard, must solve an impossible double murder for his gray cap masters while trying to make contact with the rebels. Nothing is as it seems, as Finch and his disintegrating partner Wyte negotiate their way through a landscape of spies, rebels, and deception. Trapped by his job and the city, Finch is about to come face to face with a series of mysteries that will change him and Ambergris forever.

Audible’s production of Finch includes original music, inspired by the book, by the band Murder by Death.

Finch has been nominated for a World Fantasy Award.

©2009 Jeff VanderMeer (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“I can’t ever remember reading a book like Finch. Audacious in technique and extravagant in imagination, it has the rare quality of making the macabre poignant. In the midst of a disturbed and disturbing narrative landscape, Jeff VanderMeer gives us deeply sympathetic characters – especially Finch himself – who inspire us to care about their flawed and tyrannized world. I’m impressed.” (Stephen R. Donaldson)

“Fungal noir. Steampunk delirium. Paranoid spy thriller, quite literally, on ‘shrooms. There’s enough nightmare and grit in Finch to stock any urban fantasy fan’s darkest imaginings for years to come.” (Richard K. Morgan)

"Intriguing and highly original.... VanderMeer writes insightfully about those caught in the middle of war. He makes one think of Baghdad in 2005 or Kabul today.” (Victor LaValle, The Washington Post)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (225 )
5 star
 (58)
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3 star
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3.8 (110 )
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1 star
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4.2 (112 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Carrie Dallas, TX, United States 05-13-11
    Carrie Dallas, TX, United States 05-13-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    10
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    "Not my genre, but..."

    An interesting and engaging book. I had no idea where it would take me, which was fun for a change. It was like Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), but with fungus. Lots, and lots of fungus.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan West Sacramento CA, CA, United States 04-28-11
    Ryan West Sacramento CA, CA, United States 04-28-11

    R. Frazier

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    2
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    Overall
    "Well written cross-genere tale"

    Very nicely done - fusion of noir, sci-fi and steampunk (biopunk). The story definitely hits the noir marks perfectly (identity questions, existential questions) and also does a really nice job of establishing an interesting, complex world.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Pound, VA, United States 09-13-10
    John Pound, VA, United States 09-13-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    54
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    5
    5
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    "Truly horrible"

    This was my first Jeff VanderMeer novel. I had high hopes. It was very quickly BLAH. My complaint is primarily with the narrator. He was truly horrible. He wasn't noir-sh; I think he thought he was being noir-ish, edgy & world-weary. He was instead dreary and lugubrious, a BORE. His reading completely leached the story of any color and suspense. I've listened to other things narrated by Mr. Wyman and had no complaints. In my opinion he tried something hard-boiled and failed.

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meena Newark, NJ, United States 09-08-10
    Meena Newark, NJ, United States 09-08-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    34
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    "Good book"

    A goog book that is well narrated . Thanks to Audible for having this book in their store.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alyssa 09-12-10
    Alyssa 09-12-10 Member Since 2009

    I listen to books when I'm at work or doing chores. I prefer history and fantasy. My favorite audio book is Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A cliche to the power of 2"

    Imagine the most droning illogical murder mystery you can and throw in some old fashioned spore aliens left over from the 50's and you've got this novel. This book was never very interesting but what finally did it in all together was the unnecessary background music that started playing during the memory recall scene. They did this in "So Cold The River" too. It's like the producer was hoping that you wouldn't notice that the big foreshadowing mysterious vision scene wasn't very mysterious and hoped making sure you couldn't hear the mumbling narrator might help matters.

    I don't mind interstitial music between chapters or parts or at the beginning and end but my policy from here on out is to give any audio book that has music playing over the actual narration an automatic two stars; sound effects will warrant an immediate demotion to one.

    10 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stanley Belfair, WA, United States 09-18-10
    Stanley Belfair, WA, United States 09-18-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    2
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    "Finch didn't flinch"

    I have to admit first that I did not finish Finch. It is written in such a way that you feel like you should know thing that were not brought forward. I gave up after 4 chapters. It is written in a very strange way. Almost just thoughts and not really telling me a story. I can't say a lot about the reader, Oliver Wyman, because I don't think he had a lot to work with. It left me wishing I had a way to get my money back.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-21-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
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    108
    4
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    "This book tried to kill me."
    What would have made Finch better?

    A more cohesive approach would have improved this book immensely. The jagged, half-formed way of writing has been done to great effect many times, and certainly sometimes in this book, but it spills into being overdone here. Almost all of the narrative is done in fragments, which disconnects the listener from the characters and the story.

    Also, the overlay of music while the narrator is still speaking is an awful stylistic choice.


    What was most disappointing about Jeff VanderMeer’s story?

    I think what was most disappointing is the feeling of uneven pacing. Other reviews have mentioned that once a listener gets to the last 50% of this book, it comes together and the world is truly described and opened up to the reader. The problem with this is that by the time I'd made it to the halfway mark, I was apathetic to the characters. I didn't care about Finch, the war that preceded this story, Wyte (I think that's how his name is spelled, forgive me if I'm mistaken) or the city. I would mentally check out during entire passages, come back and realize that I'd missed out on a few minutes of the reading, and my reaction was to shrug and contemplate speeding up the narration speed. Normally, I'll hit that reqind button to catch up on what I missed.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Oliver Wyman?

    Oliver Wyman is a fantastic narrator. I think he did the best he could with what he had to work with.


    What character would you cut from Finch?

    Sentra (again, sorry if misspelled). I think that of all the characters I didn't connect to, she is the one who was the least likable or interesting. Her mysteriousness was forced, Finch's attachment to her was unrealistic, and her motivations weren't interesting enough to hold my attention.


    Any additional comments?

    This book did indeed try to kill me. I listen to audiobooks during my lengthy commute to and from work, and this book did its best to put me to sleep. I thought it was just me being tired, but in the middle of this book I dropped it, switched to another one I had in my list, and the encroaching sleep wore off.

    This book failed to engage my attention enough to finish it. It may be different for others, but the style of writing, the characters, and the setting itself did not hold my attention.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zac Knoxville,Tn 12-01-13
    Zac Knoxville,Tn 12-01-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
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    12
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    "One of the best I've heard/read/experienced"
    Where does Finch rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 5


    What other book might you compare Finch to and why?

    Really hard to compare it to anything else; detective noir, weird, fantastical, and literarily masterful.


    Which character – as performed by Oliver Wyman – was your favorite?

    Finch and Shriek


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Who the hell can listen to 15 hrs of book in one sitting? No, that's ridiculous. I listened to it over several days..........moron.


    Any additional comments?

    Check this out, but read Shriek: an Afterword first, otherwise, a lot won't make sense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Celia Topanga, CA, United States 06-26-13
    Celia Topanga, CA, United States 06-26-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
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    33
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    2
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too vague"

    found it too vague, story not compelling, a bit hard to follow, couldn't get involved in the characters

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Palo Alto, CA, United States 09-30-10
    Richard Palo Alto, CA, United States 09-30-10 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
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    36
    14
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    0
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    "Unusual scenario but unsympathetic characters"

    The premise of the story is unusual to put it mildly. The mixture of science fiction and mystery is good, but I find it hard to stay involved. The characters are thin and unsympathetic. The world the detective inhabit seems dark and without hope. Others authors have done this better.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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