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Pi

STATE COLLEGE, PA, United States
  • 11
  • reviews
  • 871
  • helpful votes
  • 21
  • ratings
  • Creating Character Arcs

  • The Masterful Author's Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development
  • By: K.M. Weiland
  • Narrated by: Sonja Field
  • Length: 5 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 383
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 342
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 334

Have you written a story with an exciting concept and interesting characters - but it just isn't grabbing the attention of readers or agents? It's time to look deeper into the story beats that create realistic and compelling character arcs. Internationally published, award-winning novelist K.M. Weiland shares her acclaimed method for achieving memorable and moving character arcs in every book you write.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Why We Read (Listen To) These Books

  • By C. Deputy on 06-07-18

Doesn't waste your time

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-05-18

One problem I've grown increasingly tired of with advice books is excessive padding. Rather than specific advice, most books drag on forever finding new ways to rephrase the core thesis of each section, substituting repetition for insight.

Not so with Creating Character Arcs. This book is packed with pointed advice and clearly articulated examples. What little repetition exists merely serves to reorganize the majors points at the end of each chapter in a way that you can quickly reference for your own projects.

I also appreciate the bravery in giving real advice, as opposed to couching everything in murky terms of "personal judgment" or "taste." That's not to say that every piece of advice will apply to every project, but the writer recognizes that we can make those decisions for ourselves, avoiding the unnecessary qualifiers that plague so many other books in this genre.

This book is surprisingly dense with useful information, and it sets the standard, not just for writing advice books, but for advice books as a whole.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Armada

  • A Novel
  • By: Ernest Cline
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35,346
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33,179
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 33,115

It's just another day of high school for Zack Lightman. He's daydreaming through another boring math class, with just one more month to go until graduation and freedom - if he can make it that long without getting suspended again. Then he glances out his classroom window and spots the flying saucer.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Lacked the freshness of Ready Player One

  • By Chad on 01-08-16

Ready Player One's uninspired younger brother.

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-02-15

I thoroughly enjoyed Ready Player One, Ernest Cline's love letter to the geek culture of the 80's, and fully expected to love Armada, which promised much of the same. Yet despite having the same author, the same audiobook narrator, and the same focus on geeks and references to the pop culture of the 80's, Armada just comes off as trite and uninspired.

None of the characters feel particularly fleshed out and just feel like tired stereotypes. What's worse, they're all the SAME tired stereotype of awkward outcast nerd, only varying in the degree to which each geek stereotype applies to them. You have the cute nerd girl, the bickering nerd friends that fight over minutiae and which comics are best, the old grognard nerd running the local game store, the combative trash talking nerd, the asian nerd, and (of course) the nerd who has no direction in life (our protagonist).

Armada doesn't have any notable plot twists or character progression. The story essentially goes much as expected. While the hero does have some trials to go through, he never really faces real failure. He makes mistakes and encounters what looks like hardship, but everything works itself out almost immediately. Despite the character having a lot of room for growth, he never actually confronts his own weaknesses or takes steps to overcome them. At the beginning he is a flawed character, and at the end he is the same flawed character, but a hero.

I wish that Armada had been a better book, but as it stands I can't recommend it at all. It essentially reads like a less enjoyable version of Ender's Game, which is a much better choice if you need something to scratch your "Nerd Boy Saves the World" itch.

  • It's Complicated

  • The Social Lives of Networked Teens
  • By: danah boyd
  • Narrated by: Beth Wendell
  • Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 184
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 152
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 157

What is new about how teenagers communicate through services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Do social media affect the quality of teens' lives? In this eye-opening book, youth culture and technology expert Danah Boyd uncovers some of the major myths regarding teens' use of social media. She explores tropes about identity, privacy, safety, danger, and bullying. Ultimately, Boyd argues that society fails young people when paternalism and protectionism hinder teenagers' ability to become informed, thoughtful, and engaged citizens through their online interactions.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • No surprises if you grew up in the digital era

  • By Pi on 03-02-14

No surprises if you grew up in the digital era

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-02-14

Let me get this out of the way first: I'm not the intended audience for this book. I graduated in 2005, when everyone in class had a live journal, MySpace was steadily moving towards its peak in popularity, and the first inklings of Facebook were starting to surface. In other words, while the services were still in their infancy, I was one of the "networked teens" that Boyd talks about in this book. "It's Complicated," however, is aimed squarely at parents who don't get the social networking phenomena, and want to understand what their kids are up to. This disconnect left me feeling somewhat disappointed in how remedial the content is.

With that said, as a person who grew up socially networked, Boyd hits the nail on the head with her analysis. Teenagers aren't replacing their real life friendships with social networks, they're using social networks to augment the real world bonds that exist and to overcome the barriers put between themselves and their friends. This should come as no surprise to the generations that have used these services, but it may still be reassuring to the parents that didn't.

The argument that Boyd puts together is cogent and interesting. She uses an effective mix of data and anecdotes to educate the reader on how social networks are really used by today's youth, being careful to avoid the hyperbole employed by both staunch opponents to social networks and overzealous supporters of the form. Social networks aren't destroying the youth of today, but they're not creating a glorious utopia, either. The more things change, the more things stay the same is the mantra of this book.

The reading is good. Wendell has an intellectual tone that matches the quality of the book; it feels like a long-form lecture from a college professor.

My only complaint comes from personal audience mismatch. As someone who used social networks as a teen, I was curious about how services that are used now differ from what I used. Also, considering how different networks have different cultures surrounding them, I was hoping for descriptions of those unique cultures (e.g. how does YouTube differ from tumblr?). This book contained none of that, and was mildly disappointing as a result.

Still, if you didn't grow up with texting, blogs, or facebook, you'll probably learn a lot from "It's Complicated."

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Masters of Doom

  • How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture
  • By: David Kushner
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 12 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,585
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,341
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,322

Masters of Doom is the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. Together, they ruled big business. They transformed popular culture. And they provoked a national controversy. More than anything, they lived a unique and rollicking American Dream, escaping the broken homes of their youth to produce the most notoriously successful game franchises in history - Doom and Quake - until the games they made tore them apart. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • How it was

  • By Ryan on 08-27-13

Fascinating story, perfectly told.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-29-13

With the break-neck pace that the gaming industry moves, it's amazing that anyone has had the clarity of vision to step back and document the history of this new form of entertainment. In Masters of Doom, Kushner does just that by detailing the careers of two of gaming's earliest superstars, John Carmack and John Romero. The fact that this book even exists is a testament to Kushner's foresight, and the quality of its presentation leaves nothing to be desired.

There's something fascinating about a creative duo, something magical about the dynamic it creates. Kushner positions the two John's, Romero and Carmack, as that sort of pairing, reminiscent of Jobs and Wozniak of Apple fame. But where Jobs and Woz were the design and engineering halves of the computer revolution, Romero and Carmack were those halves of the PC gaming revolution.

Kushner takes what could have been a rather boring history of id software and turns it into a real narrative. He shows Romero and Carmack as yin and yang, two parts of a whole. But he also shows them as headstrong individuals who just don't see enough of themselves in their partner. Ultimately, we see the two split ways and compete, seemingly never to achieve the greatness alone that they had together. Along the way there are many recurring themes and characters, all of which Kushner takes great care to point out to the reader.

It's worth noting how tight of a time frame this book exists in. Masters of Doom was published in 2003. Doom came out in 1993, and Daikatana (the development of which is a focus of the latter half of the book) was released in 2000. 3 years separation from the subject matter is nothing, but reading this book in 2013 still shows it to have significant historical perspective.

As for the narration, Wil Wheaton is, as always, a fantastic reader for anything and everything geek related. His delivery here is pitch perfect, and it really brings the story to life.

The only thing I might have wanted was a more recent afterword. I believe the one presented in the book is from the 2004 softcover reprinting. Considering the audiobook was recorded in 2012, and both Carmack and Romero have continued to work in the industry during that time, an extra chapter to bring the book back up to date would have been appreciated. That's a lot to ask from an audio release, however, and I can hardly fault the publishers for merely doing a "great" job with this book, rather than going way above and beyond.

If you care about gaming, and you enjoy a good biography, Masters of Doom is tough to beat.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Johnny Carson

  • By: Henry Bushkin
  • Narrated by: Dick Hill
  • Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,095
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 977
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 977

From 1962 until 1992, Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show and permeated the American consciousness. In the ’70s and ’80s he was the country’s highest-paid entertainer and its most enigmatic. He was notoriously inscrutable, as mercurial (and sometimes cruel) off-camera as he was charming and hilarious onstage. During the apex of his reign, Carson’s longtime lawyer and best friend was Henry Bushkin, who now shows us Johnny Carson with a breathtaking clarity and depth that nobody else could.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Should be called Johnny and me

  • By Metaphorical 1 on 11-16-13

Not for the uninitiated

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-21-13

Bushkin's biography of Johnny Carson is a self-aggrandizing autobiographical work in disguise. Possibly worth a read if you want the dirty details on Carson's business life and failed marriages, but utterly worthless if you are more interested in his career and mastery of the craft of comedy.

As someone in my mid-twenties, I can't say that I grew up with Johnny Carson; the best I could say is that I know him by reputation. Having two baby-boomer parents, I would occasionally hear about how great the Tonight Show was during Carson's reign. I wanted a book that would take me back to that era and show me just what made King of Late-Night the royalty that he was.

I hoped for a biography that told about Johnny Carson's career, with a little insight into his personal life from someone who knew him well. I assumed Henry Buskin, Johnny's lawyer and friend, would have such a perspective. This biography just isn't it, though. Instead of focusing on Johnny Carson's craft as a comedian, which Bushkin admits himself was Carson's true passion in life, the story mostly revolves around Johnny's business and marriage troubles, with a few stories thrown in just to illustrate how Johnny Carson was a star among stars. A book mired in business nonsense, divorces, and contract negotiations? You are reminded at every turn that this book was written by a lawyer.

No time is given to Johnny Carson's youth or early career; the story opens with the hiring of Henry Bushkin, after Carson is already a star. The story ends abruptly with Henry Bushkin getting fired, with more time given to Bushkin's legal battles with Carson's financial firm than to the 30-odd years of Carson's life that followed the split. Johnny's work on the Tonight Show is only mentioned in passing from time to time, and even then it is only in relation to the business deals it facilitated. I understand that Bushkin was Johnny's lawyer and his most unique perspective comes from the legal and personal side of things, but I expect the author of a major biography to put in the effort to research and fill out the entire story of their subject's life.

In fact, taking the author into account, this book becomes more of an autobiography than anything else. I can't help but wonder if this was his intention from the start, but the publisher chose to rework it as a biography of Johnny Carson to sell more copies. It makes sense, who would want to read about the life of a less-than-world-famous lawyer when they could read about one of history's most influential television stars? But it really does the reader a disservice when you expect an account of Johnny Carson's 80-year life and you only get the 18 years that Bushkin worked for him.

Bushkin's account would make a great piece to a more complete biography, which I feel probably exists out there. But as it stands, I can't recommend this book unless you are solely interested in hearing about the life and times of a New York lawyer who worked for one of television's biggest stars.

73 of 82 people found this review helpful

  • Redshirts

  • A Novel with Three Codas
  • By: John Scalzi
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 16,936
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15,874
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 15,852

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the facts that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces; (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations; and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointing, but somehow still worth a listen.

  • By Bradford on 03-06-13

A very meta romp for fans of Star Trek

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-19-13

Some books are weighty tomes, filled with flowery prose and multi-layered plots. Other books are more straightforward, both in terms of style and breadth, presenting a single concept in a light and breezy way. Redshirts is certainly the latter, but that makes it no less enjoyable than something more difficult.

If you are a fan of Star Trek, you are already familiar with the concept of the Red Shirt: those hapless ensigns sent on away missions whose only purpose is to die. Fans noticed this pretty quickly, making it a running gag in the fandom, but Scalzi's Redshirts asks the question: "What if the ensigns noticed it too?" He explores this through the eyes of Andrew Dahl, a fresh ensign aboard the Intrepid, who quickly realizes that everyone on board is really squeemish about away missions. Once the characters realize exactly why people seem to die on every mission, the story gets very meta.

Redshirts is firmly based on space exploration dramas, like Star Trek, and is happy to play with the source material. From lampooning Shatner's infamous scene-chewing through captain Abernathy to explaining why the non-sensical science always works, Redshirts' irreverence is a treat for anyone raised on Star Trek. My personal favorite was the book's version of Chekov, who acts like the universe's chew toy, and spends almost every episode getting nearly killed.

What makes the whole thing better is the choice of reader. I don't think there's a man alive better suited to reading this book than Wil Wheaton. Not only was he a character on Star Trek: The Next Generation and a modern geek idol, but his sardonic wit reads perfectly into every line. I could not imagine a better fit for the character of Ensign Dahl. As with most of the books Wil Wheaton reads, his performance alone makes the audiobook version of Redshirts the definitive text.

That said, Redshirts is not without its shortcomings. Scalzi's writing in this book is simple and to-the-point. You won't see any wild grammatical gymnastics or lexical flourishes here, and you'll never find yourself pausing to appreciate his prose. Such simplicity, though, is not without its advantages. The lack of complexity in form makes the book much easier to read, and I found myself so caught up in the momentum of the plot that I hardly perceived any weakness in the writing.

All said, I highly recommend Redshirts to any fan of the space exploration genre. It's an incredibly fun read, and the sort of book that you can't put down until it's done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Annihilation

  • Forgotten Realms: War of the Spider Queen, Book 5
  • By: Philip Athans
  • Narrated by: Rosalyn Landor
  • Length: 12 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 265
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 249
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 247

The New York Times best-seller, now in audio! This edition expands on the civil upheaval among the drow, one of the most popular races in the Forgotten Realms. Best-selling author R.A. Salvatore wrote the prologue to Annihilation and continues to consult on the series, lending his expertise as the author who brought drow society to the forefront of the Forgotten Realms mythos.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Story, Good Performance

  • By Ray on 10-10-13

A pivotal entry in the War of the Spider Queen

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-01-13

I'll get this out right now, despite some notable flaws, Annihilation is my favorite book in the War of the Spider Queen series since Dissolution.

First, a little background, for those who have gotten this far into the War of the Spider Queen series without doing much side research on it. War of the Spider Queen was an ambitious project undertaken by Wizards of the Coast, under the advisement of RA Salvatore. The overarching plot line and all of its main events was dictated before ink ever touched the page, and those milestones were handed off to multiple authors to write each entry (with editorial oversight by Salvatore). As a result, each book has some minor departures in style and characterization based on author interpretation. That said, the events that unfold in this entry are key for the series as a whole. Here we see the mission, which really began in book II, come to a close. We also see the inklings of change, as our heroes undertake a new mission (to be explored in the final book).

Book V is brought to us by the author Philip Athans. I have mixed feelings on his work in this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed how Athans included details which reinforced the careless brutality of the drow. We get to see the tragic deaths of humans through their own eyes. The stories of their lives, their dreams, and their aspirations are paraded before us in the fleeting moments before they die as meaningless pawns in the power struggles between drow. Also to his credit, Athans provides an excellent description of the most pivotal event in the series (which occurs in the final few chapters). However, this impressive descriptive skill is not on display throughout the rest of the book. Athans dialogue and prose are often uninspired and mechanical. It feels like every line of dialogue is "said," rather than "barked," "warned," or "whispered." Basically, Athans doesn't take enough care with word choice throughout the novel.

To sum up my opinion on Athans' work here, he does a great job with large scale storytelling but lacks the mechanics of a writer.

Rosalyn Landor is the real star of the show in this audiobook. Her consistent performance throughout the series helps to smooth the transition between authors, which might otherwise be very jarring. Danifae's voice continues to be husky and seductive, Quenthel remains haughty, Jeggred remains feral. Some detractors of the paper copy of this book have argued that the characters feel inconsistent; the continuity of voice helps to maintain the sense that these are the same characters as before, only changing as a result of their mission. Moreover, Landor's performance and emotion successfully covers up any lack of emotive writing on Athans' part. I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed this entry as much if I had read it in paper.

Obviously, if you've gotten this far in the series, Annihilation is easy to recommend. I think it's a satisfying end to the longest arc the series has to offer, and it catapults you into the awaiting conclusion.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Homeland

  • Legend of Drizzt: Dark Elf Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: R. A. Salvatore
  • Narrated by: Victor Bevine
  • Length: 10 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,240
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,490
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,502

This stunning new release of the classic R.A. Salvatore novel recounts the origins of Salvatore's signature dark elf character, Drizzt Do'Urden. This title kicks off The Legend of Drizzt series, which will showcase the classic dark elf novels in these new audiobook editions.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Among the drow, all trust is foolish.

  • By Pi on 04-26-13

Among the drow, all trust is foolish.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-26-13

Drizzt is, by far, the most iconic drow character in fantasy literature. He's so popular that within the circles of roleplaying gamers, both tabletop and computer, it's a common joke that every drow is a two-sword wielding goodie goodie, despite their race's fierce reputation. Players will name their characters in an homage to Drizzt, just as they might with Legolas or Gandalf. That's some high praise, right there.

Homeland is the first book of the Dark Elf Trilogy and the (truly massive) Legend of Drizzt Saga. While it's not the first appearance of Drizzt, it's the place for new readers to start, because here you'll learn of both his origins and his background. Homeland describes the City of Menzoberranzan, home of the drow, and the struggles for power that take place there.

If you've never read a book about the drow, you'll quickly find that there's a lot to learn here. Salvatore assumes that the reader is unfamiliar with his setting, and he exposes the reader to the atrocities committed in the name of drow culture through the eyes of the naive and innocent Drizzt. By the end of the book, you will have a good feel for what the drow are all about, and likely be hungry for more of their plots and intrigue.

The story features many interesting characters: the insidious matron Malice, the vengeful Alton Devir, the noble Zaknafein. Drizzt is the primary hero, but to be perfectly honest, I found his character arc the weakest in the book. His naïveté and indomitable innocence are meant to be his best qualities, but I felt robbed of the potential for a redemption story that could have made him much more interesting. Surrounded by characters who are falling into ruin through their own actions or finding spiritual redemption for their crimes, Drizzt's transition from naive to slightly-less-naive doesn't feel very spectacular. This is, however, a matter of taste. The tone of this novel really sets up the heroic tone the larger series is known for.

As for the delivery, Bevine does an admirable job. I have quibbles on pronunciation, here and there, but since all of these words were born on paper, there probably is no solid agreement on any of them. Bevine does a good job of transitioning between the harsh calculating characters like Matron Malice and the more idealistic Drizzt, which is rather impressive.

Ultimately, if you are interested in learning more about the drow or getting into the Drizzt series of novels, this is a great place to start. The intrigue and plots are interesting, but there's enough action to keep you interested if that's more your speed.

182 of 188 people found this review helpful

  • Ready Player One

  • By: Ernest Cline
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 15 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 208,338
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 194,509
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 194,104

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I’m sorry I waited so long to read this book.

  • By Julie W. Capell on 05-27-14

Like being part of an exclusive, geeky, club.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-17-13

If you are even thinking about reading Ready Player One, then you're a geek. No use denying it; your secret is out. But it's okay, because you're in good company. Wil Wheaton is also a geek, and he's here to read the book with you.

Being a geek is all about loving something. It's about having interests which might seem arcane or obtuse to the average person, but that really speak to you. And because most people don't quite "get" the things you like, most geeks feel a bit like their on the outside, at least until they find a group of likeminded geeks to share their love with. Ready Player One is like that group of likeminded friends encapsulated in book form.

Anyone who knows nerds know they LOVE references. Cline will happily throw so many references at you that even the most erudite nerd will be baffled by a few, but each one that you do catch makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Anime, video games, comic books, movies, music, books, tabletop gaming...every piece of popular or geeky media is on the table. I know I got a smile on my face when the first mention Ultraman showed up, and I'd suspect that everyone will have a moment like that somewhere in this book.

Wil Wheaton is the best reader I can imagine for this book. His snarky confidence fits the main character Wade Watts perfectly. He's the consummate empowered nerd, and the performance is spot-on.

I only have two complaints about this book. First, it so shamelessly appeals to the geek demographic that it become a bit of a guilty pleasure. Second, the book's ending gives something of a mixed message. That does little to take away from the novel, though, because it really is meant to just be a fun adventure, rather than a weighty thought exercise.

Basically, if you consider yourself at all a geek, read this book. You won't regret it.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Neuromancer

  • By: William Gibson
  • Narrated by: Robertson Dean
  • Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,981
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4,525
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,538

Twenty years ago, it was as if someone turned on a light. The future blazed into existence with each deliberate word that William Gibson laid down. The winner of Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards, Neuromancer didn't just explode onto the science fiction scene - it permeated into the collective consciousness, culture, science, and technology.Today, there is only one science fiction masterpiece to thank for the term "cyberpunk," for easing the way into the information age and Internet society.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great book. Terrible performance.

  • By Denis on 04-08-16

An interesting book; Required reading for geeks

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-17-13

The impact of Neuromancer is hard to overstate. Few other modern works can claim to have altered the public lexicon, let alone society's expectations of what a future with technology should look like. Neuromancer has done both. But despite this level of impact, many will find this book a difficult read, and one with some very clear flaws.

Perhaps the most difficult (yet rewarding) part of Neuromancer is its writing style. Gibson's prose is jagged but poetic, confusing but evocative. On paper, without the assistance of tone, it is often hard to tell where the metaphor ends and reality begins. Luckily, the narrator (Dean), helps to untie the tangle of words with his delivery. Moreover, the adoption of many words used in Neuromancer by the general public in the last 25 years has made this book much more accessible to the modern audience. Thus, with the hard work done for you, you can really appreciate how Gibson's style helps to characterize the protagonist (Case). We learn that Case is curt, even in his own thoughts, and how he interfaces with the world experientially rather than intellectually. It helps to explain some of Case's flaws, like his fixation on drugs and sex, without having to beat the reader over the head with it.

That brings me to the single biggest problem in this book: sex. Gibson's use of sex often feels cheap. He throws in sexual encounters with too little pretense and goes into too much detail too often. I don't consider myself a prude, and I recognize that sex often has a literary purpose, but the portrayal of sex in Neuromancer is something of a distraction throughout the book. That said, the distraction is not great enough to ruin the experience, but it does seem like a stain on what would otherwise be a flawless novel.

Dean's performance in Neuromancer is impressive. He flies through Gibson's difficult prose, and really brings the character of Case alive. He makes occasional use of character voices, which is a very welcome addition to the reading. However, his female voices feel out place, too breathy and sometimes coming across as dreamy air-heads. While this fits for a few characters, it's unfortunate that a character like Molly, who should come across as a no-nonsense action girl, feels more like an aloof ninja.

Ultimately, in spite of its flaws, it's hard not to recommend Neuromancer. The role this book has played in both modern culture and sci-fi literature is just too great to pass up. To top it off, the book is fairly short and the audio format untangles Gibson's difficult prose, making this a surprisingly breezy read.