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Publisher's Summary

Now a modern classic, this story of two boys' friendship at an exclusive New Hampshire prep school as it parallels the inescapable and escalating atmosphere of World War II, is intense and engaging to the last word.
©2003 John Knowles; (P)2002 Audio Bookshelf

Critic Reviews

"Snively does an excellent job conveying emotions in scenes of conflict...This is an excellent treatment of a modern classic." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall

Thoughtful; great character development.

If you're looking for an exciting adventure story--this isn't it. But if you enjoy listening to a slower story that deals with adolescence, peace and war, and the relationships of different personalities, this is a great read. It is well written, thought-provoking, and does a great job drawing emotions that most of us experience but rarely think about.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

How can one fault a Classic like this?

This is probably one of John Knowles' most popular titles and represents a coming of age story between two friends over the course of a year. It has a very sobering tone and can be perceived as very 'heavy' in terms of the overall ending of the title. The author doesn't in any way spare you from the realities of that time and provides no 'magical fixes' for any of the problems the boys at the Academy faced. This book does in fact teach some rather jarring life lessons through its exquisite writing and sheer honesty.

The narration for me was lacking. I found myself somewhat steeling myself to get through the book. Had it not been for my 'grit your teeth and get through it' mentality or the fact that I simply enjoyed the book's content, I wouldn't have made it through the title.

I am taken back in time to when I first started getting into books with this one. Reading, or in this case listening, the classics always tending to produce in me a sense of nostalgia for the past, a time dated in the early 90's when I was just a kid.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecca
  • Tampa, FL, United States
  • 08-14-12

I loved it!

This was one of my summer reading books for my high school, and I struggled when trying to read it in my head. I instead listened to this while reading along with the printed book.

I did notice that there were some word changes in the narration, I don't know if it was the narrator improvising or my book, but it didn't in any way affect the story line (ex. when the word in my book was "huge" the narrator said "large," little things like that). But other than that, the narrator did an excellent job in portraying the characters in general, as well as the many emotions in the novel.

As for a review of the book, it was very touching and I loved it. The writing did get a bit slow and confusing at times, but nothing too bad. I felt like I was there, right along side Gene and Finny...in a word, it's just spectacular! :D

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • Bellevue, WA, United States
  • 11-08-14

Still good

I read this book multiple times in high school and college, about 25 years ago, and revisited when students at my school were reading it. I found the story is still captivating and interesting, a relief when other recently revisited classics had lost their luster for me. Knowles' exploration of jealousy set at a prep school at the dawn of WWII still holds relevance today as today's teens struggle with that emotion in the midst of the technology age.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • ALB
  • Draper, UT USA
  • 09-10-12

Good story

I listened to this because my daughter had to read it for eight grade. I probably would not have read it if otjerwise, but I am glad that I did. The narrator was very good and the story kept me engaged.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Shaneka
  • PALM COAST, FLORIDA, United States
  • 04-09-12

Outstanding Story and Was Read Very Well!!

Would you listen to A Separate Peace again? Why?

I would listen to this story again, simply because of the different voices the reader used to allow me to know which character was speaking. It was fun and easy to follow.

What did you like best about this story?

The characters came to life.

What does Scott Snively bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

A broader sense of the characters personalities.

If you could take any character from A Separate Peace out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Finny!!!

Any additional comments?

I love the name Phineas now!!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephanie
  • ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States
  • 10-05-12

Pick a different narrator

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I am reading the books assigned to my high-schooler, partly so we can discuss them. So in that sense, yes: time well spent. I appreciate having a glimpse of my grandparents' generation as well. In retrospect, I'd have chosen to read a paper copy rather than listen.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I was not exactly surprised by it. The denouement was a little bit flat, though ... in fact, the narrator's emotional reaction to all the key events seemed flat. This may have been partly due to Snively's performance, however.

What didn’t you like about Scott Snively’s performance?

He has a nice voice but does dialog terribly. He sounds like he's reading a book for children. What could be emotional scenes are rendered almost comical: not good.

Was A Separate Peace worth the listening time?

Six hours? Sure. There's some lovely language contained in the story, even if the story itself didn't really move me. If it was longer, probably not.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent story!

Brilliant writing. First Knowles book I have read, and I was very enthralled with the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The themes of adolescence do not change much.

I read A Separate Peace first as a teen-aged girl and listened to it recently as the mother of teen-aged boys. The tensions among the boys, as they sort out the adults they will become, are familiar in any decade. I agree with reviewers who comment that the story is slow. But as it deals with the loss of youth in many different ways, that is not necessarily a condemnation of this classic. I did not enjoy the narration, but that could have been my impatience with parts of the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Revisting a Modern Classic

Any additional comments?

I remember reading this novel in middle school and thought it would be interesting to revisit in audio. It did not disappoint.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful