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Publisher's Summary

Adrian Tchaikovksy's critically acclaimed stand-alone novel Children of Time is the epic story of humanity's battle for survival on a terraformed planet.

Who will inherit this new Earth?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind's worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

©2016 Adrian Tchaikovsky (P)2017 Audible Ltd

Critic Reviews

" Children of Time is a joy from start to finish. Entertaining, smart, surprising and unexpectedly human." (Patrick Ness)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating Premise Within an Excellent Story

This is everything you expect from good Science Fiction. I love it when an author can take a potentially hokey storyline and turn it into a stunning work of believable fiction. A work of this type takes detailed knowledge and superior writing ability. Mostly this is a book about the known characteristics and behavior of a certain species, and how that species would hyper evolve with the right catalyst. But it also has some awesome hard science fiction involving terraforming, long distance space travel, and an number of other more common sci-fi themes. The science was logical throughout while the story remained unpredictable - a great combination. Sometimes female narrators struggle with male voices, but Mel Hudson does an excellent job. This book is at the top of my list so far for 2017, so it gets 5 stars across the board.

120 of 127 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Simon
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • 06-17-17

A very pleasant surprise

What a pleasant surprise. I had never heard of this author and have become very hesitant to download books by authors new to me. In a time where the traditional barriers to publishing have crumbled, I tend to start with listening to the narrator in the sample on the premise that a talentless self publisher probably cannot afford a professional.

This is a well written and expertly narrated book. The premise interesting and the science believable. The characters are engaging and the storyline moves along at a nice pace.

Sorry for not giving away any of the storyline. Let's just say it's a story of humanity, survival, and some really intelligent mistakes. I enjoyed it and hope ypu will too.

254 of 277 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jarno
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • 05-16-17

A unique take on the alien

This was a very nice surprise. I read a lot of science fiction, and it's rare to come across a take on an alien society that is unique, and as well fleshed out as the author has achieved here.

The story concept is great, and the execution does not disappoint.

The start of the book didn't leave me expecting much - I found the main character in that early part pretty... cliche. Very glad to say that quickly got better though, much better.

225 of 247 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

All we need is enough time

Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time presents an interesting take on intelligence development among insect species (mainly spiders) due to unintended human intervention. After an experiment designed to observe evolution at an accelerated pace in primates goes awry and Earth implodes itself, a colony ship is all that remains of humanity. While the terraformed world is lush and inviting, a psychotic human / AI chimera refuses to allow the last remnants of the human race to settle and forces them to wander, all the while slowly devolving, while the rapidly developing insect world is progressing through the stages of creating a sustainable civilization. With nowhere else to turn, humanity must make a play for the planet to survive.

The sci-fi elements are mainly centered around evolutionary biology and the development of intelligence and civilization. Intriguingly, spiders come to dominate with females being the dominant gender evolving as a mirror image of humanity. Rather than a random or artificial rationale for this development, the author identifies size (females being larger as a consequence of reproductive necessity) and the lack of need for child rearing duties as the basis for this development which provides a sharp juxtaposition and contrast relative to humanity. The devolution of humanity on the colony was less well handled and the final denouement was tending towards the preachy, but overall the tale is a fresh take on the evolution of intelligent life in a somewhat alien species without simply "aping" human developmental lines.

The narration was excellent overall with a solid range of voices of both genders. In addition, the insectoid vocals were handled nicely without resorting to nasal or flat affect renditions and rapid transitions between the human / AI chimera were skillfully relayed. This is a thought provoking tale that starkly portrays evolution as an unfeeling taskmaster without the concept of right or wrong, but rather only consequences.

107 of 118 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kirk
  • Bay Area, CA
  • 12-07-17

Thought provoking, timely and optimistic

Adrian Tchaikovsky is a busy author. Children of Time is the first book of his I have read and visits a familiar landscape in contemporary sci-fi: the Earth is becoming unlivable and great ships are being built to send stores of humans to far off worlds to begin new, terraformed colonies.  In this story there are some fascinating wrinkles.

The story opens with a ceremony marking the beginning of a terraforming project on one such far off world. The point of view is the narcissistic designer of this world drearily waiting through the formalities of her grand plan being put into effect. At the penultimate moment the pilot of the lead ship reveals himself to be a saboteur, a man whose personal convictions are that humans should not be imposing their view of the Universe on unsuspecting worlds. His efforts result in the grand plan mostly failing and the designer escaping death by placing herself in a hibernation chamber.

The plan for this project centered on a proto-virus that was introduced into the planetary ecosystem. The intent was for it to act as a catalyst and accelerator for evolutionary development of monkeys who were also to be introduced. The idea was to inoculate the planet with these elements, wait a few thousand years then descend a world pre-populated with humans at an early technological age and live as gods.

The monkeys did not make it and though the proto-virus had constraints to keep it from affecting every species, because only the monkeys were supposed to be affected, it turns out the native spider and ant populations were affected.

Meanwhile, time passes for the Earth. A lot of time. Time enough for the fall of the technological greatness allowing such project, an ice age, and a rebirth of technology eventually allowing for a new series of colony ships to be built and sent out.

Time is everywhere in this story. We watch the spiders evolve on their planet. The humans traveling in their colony ship have a stasis like sleep which can last for hundreds of years. They are periodically woken by the ship when their input or expertise is required to deal with issues and return to sleep. It's a fascinating plot device that allows for characters to age at different rates and wake to completely different realities within the confines of the same ship they start in.

The inevitable meeting of the two species, humans and spiders, in space is entertaining and exciting. I've written before about an author's ability to tell a story without breaking my suspension of disbelief and Tchaikovsky manages it well with his telling of the battle that ensues.

There is a fair amount of what I consider contemporary commentary of issues of the day like power, fairness, equality and the effects of technology on life.

35 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beyond inspiring

As a huge fan of science fiction I have read countless works by countless authors, non have ever touched me as this book. An understanding of life, in my opinion, has never been expressed so eloquently and so broad at the same time. This story is possibly a gateway to a new and improved perspective of humanity and of life itself. Amazing fantasy yet hopeful potential to be so much more. What we can achieve if only we can identify ourselves and the commonality between us and any other sentient being in the vast cosmos. A small, simple unique something that can bridge all the differences, that can connect to others and express one simple thought “This is us, we are like you”. This book deeply touches on all aspects of known and unknown qualities that make up our human intellectual capacity as well as those of other life forms. Then the question of “what can be achieved” is explored from a very unique alien yet familiar perspective. I cannot get enough of this book, and I pray that Adrien Tchaikovsky has planned more books along the same idea : “this is us” and what can we not reach together if we can break barriers of division. Beyond great, this book is a start in understanding more in every direction possible.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Irene
  • Thornleigh, Australia
  • 06-10-17

Extraordinary, mind-twisting ideas

Any additional comments?

Absolutely riveting, unexpected. Best book I've listened to since The Name of the Wind (different genre completely but I have very eclectic tastes) Ending did not quite resonate, Octavia Butler would have done better with the concept, but it is what it is. Still, what a concept!

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Craven
  • PLANO, TX, United States
  • 07-18-18

Confused and Disinterested

The meandering nature of the simultaneous arcs and the jarring timescale jumps left me confused toward the end. I found myself listening just to get to the resolution. As I have now made it to the end I can see the reasoning, but the execution is just so massively bad.

The main flaw of this book is that it tries to be an epic series in just one book. Each Porsche, Bianca, and time jump between Holston chapters could have been one in a series of novels. The lack of focus on the characters made the overall story lose cohesion. Asimov's Foundation series did this the right way in telling compartmentalized "hero" arcs inside a rich background universe over the course of several books.

Narrated very well despite all of the drawbacks of the story.

I'd recommend passing on this one unless you're into some pretty niche sci-fi that I don't want to spoil due to the story implications.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant

Really well thought out very different and unique. The start may come off as slow but its worth it once things get going.

24 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely fantastic book

This book is so well written and intelligent. For me, this was the perfect book. Fantastic characters, amazing plot. Great performance. I'd say more but I wouldn't want to spoil anything. One of the best books I have read in a long time, I needed a smart, thoughtful, and believable story like this.

25 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 05-11-17

Tchaikovsky is still writing Symphonies!

This is genuine high-quality science fiction, in terms of pacing it's probably closer to Heinlein than Scalzi or Star Wars but it's innovative, well thought-out and fairly challenging. It's definitely at the thinking reader's end of sci-fi.

It has to be a clever book that gets you rooting for spiders and sympathising with them. This book covers issues of morality, decency, survival and has probably one of the most unique treatments of the age-old battle of the sexes I have ever read.

The treatment of time and lifespan is equally clever. There are almost three distinct timelines here. The relatively short-lived spiders together with the humans being able to engage in various uses of suspended animation could have resulted in a real mess with dozens and dozens of varied characters. I thought this was particularly well-covered with the implementation of a logical mechanism to provide consistency of character among the arachnids and longevity with key humans.

Mel Hudson does a fine job of the narration, no easy task this one making this in all a very high quality entry to the genre and I would echo Carl's thought's that we need more of this author on Audible. It seems Tchaikovsky is still writing Symphonies!

33 of 41 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Vickster
  • 06-14-17

A beautiful take on evolution and hope

Loved this. Was a deeply satisfying story of humanity and something else... Wonderfully thought out intricacies of the evolution to sentience from an entirely different point of view and cleverly written to encompass great swathes of time with continuity. Who knew you could feel such empathy for spiders. And empathy is the fundamental message for us all if we are to not only survive, but also thrive.

24 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Damo
  • 05-31-17

Brilliant

I enjoyed the originality of this book. It is told in such a way that I found myself rooting for both sides, and I felt the development of an 'alien' intelligence that is derived from something not alien at all was particularly interesting. The means by which the author deals with untold generations of spiders cohesively is also very clever.

My thanks to Adrian Tchaikovsky, and to Mel Hudson for bringing me on such an exciting, unpredictable journey. I highly recommend this book and will be looking out for more work from this author.

24 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Max
  • 07-06-17

Cool concept but average execution

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I think I would use it in conversation because it raised some great discussion points, but no i would not recommend it to a friend. The narrator is really bland, and the writing, which showed promise in the first few chapters with the introduction of the first spider hunting in the terraformed world, it sloped off massively and never really recovered.

Would you be willing to try another book from Adrian Tchaikovsky? Why or why not?

Adrian Tchaikovsky would probably write good films. The book has a good cinematic feel to it and I really can see this book being adapted to the big screen, web cities, space battles with sentient spiders, hypersleep, ant colony supercomputers etc. But his skills as a writer leave much to be desired. I didn't care about any of the characters with the exception of the early hunting spiders in the jungle and Fabian, the male spider fighting for emancipation. The characterisation of even the human characters was sluggish and frustrating, and at the conclusion I found myself really ambivalent to who ended up on top. So thanks but no thanks.

Would you be willing to try another one of Mel Hudson’s performances?

Hell no. She's boring after the first chapter, her accents are laughable, and her dramatic monologue performances were really embarrassing.

Was Children of Time worth the listening time?

It was worth half the listening time. Some really cool concepts in it, I really liked the stuff about ants and the early hunting scenes, also charting the rise of a civilisation under different circumstances. But sadly no I think I would take back about 8 of those hours.

25 of 35 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mr David Kemp
  • 10-16-17

Does what Sci-fi should do at it's best

This book makes you think about creation, the nature of life and the enormity of time. These are all things which Sci-fi should ask you to reflect on. I loved this book and the concepts that the author has put together into a thought provoking story.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • MR
  • 10-10-17

Unexpected gem

Awesome, wasn’t sure where it was headed but gripping from the beginning and literally weaves a clever story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • D. Menashy
  • 07-02-17

A Web of delight.

An interesting concept, very well carried off. A story that's engaging populated by interesting characters. I know more about spiders than ever before, but in a good way!
Superbly narrated by Mel Hudson.


7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Gary Sereno
  • 09-25-17

Good book, but at times forced.

I do like the concept behind this story and for much of the book it works well. However it at times also feels forced and some of the characters do not seem to fit roles that were meant to have been psychometrically assessed (as is explained behind the selection for one of the characters).
While towards the end it feels expected, partly due to it's forced nature, it also was not wholly predictable, which was nice.
Narration was decent, again not great, but certainly above average, which seems to just fit in with this book.

If you're after an exceptional story, I personally would recommend you give this one a miss, however if you want a decent book, which is slightly different, then this could be a tale for you.

10 of 15 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mrs. K. J. Salt
  • 11-27-17

imaginative

different from most scifi and in a good way. A familiar storyline but with a different treatment bringing alive something that could be abhorrent and making it real and acceptable. Engaging, riveting and enjoyable!

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Baz
  • 11-23-17

takes a while to get into the story line

once you do it's a great story and I love the character development and biological background

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • emmoff
  • 05-30-17

Enjoyable book with a rather swift ending.

An enjoyable, imaginative book exploring the evolution of a Spider society - an accidental by-product of a human terraforming project and a nano virus invented to accelerate the evolution of Monkey to Human. As the Monkeys never arrived planet-side, the Spiders become the dominant species. The inventor of this project is a computerised remnant of an ego-driven scientist from a previous Human era, still housed in a satellite revolving the planet. She is quite possibly insane.
The book also follows the survivors of a defunct and war-ravaged, planet Earth, struggling on a cold storage Ark-ship for thousands of years in space. The Humans inevitably need to resettle on the planet inhabited by the Spiders to survive. The Spiders evolve culturally and scientifically, whilst the Humans fight entropy and themselves over the two millennial time frame, with a few of the main crew disjointedly awoken for brief often bizarre periods. Both storylines are insightful and character driven. My only criticism is that the ending felt rushed and abrupt.
Good narration and Highly Recommended.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dianne Henderson
  • 11-26-17

Beautifully Read

Couldn't put my device down. Fascinating story. Lovely female voice. 5 stars. Future of humanity?

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Trent
  • 08-23-17

Brilliant, thought provoking.

I loved the concept, the 2 different storylines happening side by side of humans and spiders and the struggles they both went through driven by the most basic of instincts of all living things, trying to survive.

The ending caught me by surprise and what a way to wrap up the story. Excellent book

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-11-17

This really makes you think

It took me a little while to get the story. But before long I was hooked. It is a believable story in a weird way. I was getting concerned on how it would end as the author has you sympathetic to both sides plight. But the ending was great. I really enjoyed it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • 06-17-17

Worth every minute

Evolution of imagination. This book proves that not all science fiction has to be formulaic and predictable.

When you find yourself moved by the fate of spiders, you know the author has led you into another world.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Panayotis Geou
  • 06-03-17

Great and insightful

An idea of alien species and a possible future or even present. Kept my mind busy from itself, good work :)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Carol
  • 09-17-18

Really struggling to keep listening...

I have given up on this one, an interesting concept but I really struggled to stay interested and will probably never finish it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 05-12-18

dreadful

Could not get past chapter 5.

close to the most boring book I havev EVER read

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Tatiana Brusyanina
  • 05-01-18

boring

I finished it, but not excited at all. found it quite boring, but narrator was good nevertheless.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • MR
  • 10-15-18

Great perspectives

Well worth the listen ! I liked the perspectives of the humans and their creations. The reading was well executed with good speed and intonation.