- helpful votes
Atmospheric but I didn't engage with all the characters
I am sure this book gives a really good and realistic impression of what it was like to serve in Vietnam. The boredom, the confusion, the death, the mix of people from all walks of life. It's a very long listen but I let it somewhat flow over me and it felt like I could really visualise the environment. However what didn't work so well was the large cast of characters who I got really confused by, even just remembering the names and which person was with which company. There are moments of real emotion but I felt this would've been increased if the book was a little easier to follow. In terms of timeline, thank goodness it's chronological. There's a good smattering of bad language throughout which is something I usually avoid, but it is all within context and for me, added to the authenticity. The narrator was excellent. At no point did he sound bored or like he was reading a book. It was overall a great listen. Just for me a bit confusing at times.
Confused by this emotional tale
Overall the story was fine. I am not that interested in sport or cycling but the story didn't focus on the technical aspects of the race to the Olympics. Instead it was about people - two girls and a boy who meet at a training camp. The author does a good job of getting us to feel the tension of racing and see the 'win at all costs' attitude. The biggest problem I had was the difficulty in following what was happening. I mistakenly thought the change in time period was showing when the girls were children, but I later realised it was showing when they were grown with their own children. This wasn't clear to me until over half way through and affected my enjoyment a lot. I also found the constant Star Wars references of the child, Sophie, really irritating and distracting. Overall just 3.5 stars for me. The narration was okay, nothing special but not silly voices. I just again found it tricky to distinguish between the different characters.
Underwhelming 'Manson inspired' tale
Lonely and misunderstood teen gets in with a bad crowd in the hippy days and gets led astray. Sadly there's nothing new in the story, the characters or the insight which made for a rather dull listen. The main character is somewhat insipid, dazzled by the hair of a popular girl. I just couldn't get into the mindset of her or the others and it just felt like a cheap imitation of a real life tragedy. An easy listen with a decent narrator but really not worth the effort.
Disappointingly dull family saga
I had high hopes for this book as I do enjoy fiction with a link to World War Two. However I found this saga was flat and dull. Post war Switzerland and Gustav lives in poverty in contrast to his friend Anton. I quite enjoyed the relationship between the two school boys but then the story drifts to fill in the back story of Gustav's mother & absent father. Later we jump in time to the future when Gustav is grown and meets with figures from his father's past. For me there wasn't enough tension or activity in the plot. The style was very telling (Gustav was anxious, Anton was frightened, he did this, they did that). The big reveal is for Gustav to uncover stories of his father, but it really wasn't such a big deal (or a surprise). Overall a gentle drama but lacking in oomph.
Jack the Ripper - alternative theory
Prologue - aboard the Titanic & a man shares his story with a fellow passenger. Cue flashback to 1880s Whitechapel, London. Not just an alternative ripper story but a jolly good listen. It starts with an East End thug and prostitutes trying to survive the harsh living conditions. A woman steals from an injured man then has second thoughts about leaving him in the street. A discovery on a job, leads to the arrival of the Candle Man to tie up loose ends. The story intertwined nicely and was thrilling without too many confusing twists. I felt it portrayed the period reasonably well but the focus was on the plot. The narrator was okay, I was too caught up in the story to bother too much about the accents. Overall a really good book.
Intensive family saga
I remember Roots as a TV drama. This book is the story upon which that was based. We start with a boy in his village, in Africa and follow in detail his life. Whilst this wasn't the dramatic start I expected, what the author did was to show ordinary life for the boy. Later when his life changes I better appreciated how different things were for him. Although at the time I felt this section was overly long. The story then continues chronologically through 7 generations from when the boy is forced to leave his village for a life of slavery. At times I found it hard to settle into a new section as we left behind characters and followed the next generation. Also I felt if this was written today, it would have a different structure with flashbacks and other techniques. However the story is interesting and engaging. The narrator has a serious tone and clear voice throughout. I cannot comment on the pronunciation of the African names but he offered consistency. It was 30 hours well spent and a book I recommend.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Dull story that goes nowhere
I am a fan of Hemingway so was drawn to this novel by the title. I expected a reimagining of aspects of his life but this is not what the book is about. I have to confess I didn't make it all the way to the end but I just couldn't carry on. So, the book follows a man, an academic who wrote a book about Hemingway. He goes to Japan and the novel focuses on his interactions with a Japanese recluse who's into literature and promises a mystery. He promises the author he got certain things wrong in his biography and he has letters that show this. But the book really isn't about Hemingway's life - or at least not in the several hours I listened. It's about different cultures coming together and the monologue style of being told a story is really dull. Sadly just not for me. The narrator did his best but the tone needed more variation.
Scholarly overview of a disaster
This is an interesting book, in that I discovered a lot about the accident, the people and the investigation into a plane crash. However the structure of the book limits the dramatic arc because you find out the fate of each person almost as soon as the person is introduced. By doing this we get to hear about the experience in that person's own words (or those of a relative/colleague)vehicle is positive. But it does mean that we go over the crash again and again as each person tells their story. There are also a lot of people's stories so it became tricky to keep track of them all. The narrator was great, with a serious tone befitting the subject matter, without sounding dull or monotonous. Overall worth a listen to hear these survivor stories but I do wonder if a different structure might have worked better.
Could have been much more thrilling
Period drama / mystery which was good in parts, but it never quite takes off. Home Office employee narrowly escapes an incident and, while investigating, he discovers a watch that leads him to an unusual Japanese man. Just as it seemed to be shaping up into a detective investigation, the story tangents. Add a rather silly love interest and a bit of a magical element, then it does get back to the 'who did it' eventually but I had little enthusiasm at this point. It's such a pity as the narration was good and the pace & voices were excellent.
Old fashioned mystery tale
I really enjoyed 11-22-63 and decided to go through his previous books. Joyland was sadly not a joy. It's a simple coming of age story with a mystery twist, set in a small theme park. Dev befriends the staff & visitors - in particular a ten year old boy & his mother. In the background is the rumour of misdeeds in the horror house which Dev wants to solve but really he doesn't try hard. The answers just fall into his lap and the 'who did it' is very underwhelming. Narration was excellent and I enjoyed the easy, fitting tone of the narrator in this story largely focussed on one character. Without such a good narrator I may well have given up.