I enjoyed this silly story well enough to finish it, but maybe not well enough to read the sequel. It's pretty lighthearted, but not especially funny.I enjoyed this silly story well enough to finish it, but maybe not well enough to read the sequel. It's pretty lighthearted, but not especially funny. A relatively unique mix of sci-fi and fantasy, but nothing groundbreaking (if The Matrix had never existed, neither would this book). The character and story are engaging to a point, but the vast majority of the book are just introduction, and it isn't until the last 20% that we get any sort of meaningful conflict. But in the end, it was a nice story, one I would not actively recommend but not recommend against either. I picked it up for $1 at a library sale based on the cover and certainly feel I got my money's worth.
Of course, I rarely read physical books these days, and this was no exception. After buying the book, I got my hands on a copy of the audiobook and listened to that. And this review would not be complete without a review of the narrator, who, for the most part, is an entirely competent reader, maybe even better than average. But the voices he does... oh, the voices. Pretty much every character in the story aside from the protagonist is a completely overblown caricature, many of whom sound utterly ridiculous, especially the protagonist's mentor, who sounds quite a bit like Mark Hamill's Joker from the Batman cartoons. I suspect I might have enjoyed the book more had I not had this cast of off-the-wall voices in my ear. So if you do decide to check this book out, get the printed version....more
A surprisingly great book. It has all the goofy and shocking stories about the antics of the band members that I expected, along with interesting histA surprisingly great book. It has all the goofy and shocking stories about the antics of the band members that I expected, along with interesting history and perspective about the band's career, but if that's all that was here this book would be an easy 3-star. What makes this book so extraordinary is the level of depth into each member's motivations, struggles, and secrets. The story of Smelly's heroin addiction and recovery is incredibly compelling, and I quite literally bawled into my pillow after the story of Mike's mother's death (admittedly because it brought up some feelings about my own mother's death earlier this year).
This is a book with a lot of truth and heart. I think anyone who likes interesting stories (and who has a strong stomach) would enjoy this book immensely, even if they were not at all interested in the band's music.
On the subject of the audiobook, which I listened to rather than reading the print version, my review is mixed. On one hand it's interesting to hear the band members themselves tell the story in their own voices, most of which are familiar to me as a long-time fan of the band. We are also treated to a couple of short musical interludes that give extra context to the stories (Mike's song about his mom's death is definitely what sealed my emotional reaction to the story).
On the other hand, as someone who listens to a lot of audiobooks and interviews by band members, the reading is incredibly wooden almost all the way through, which should be expected from amateur narrators. They try to add in a bit of inflection here and there, and some do better than others (Hefe is unsurprisingly the best narrator, while Jello Biafra reading for one of the former members tries way too hard). Even though I'm sure their words were edited quite a bit for print, I would have liked to hear the original interview audio, as I'm sure the natural storytelling worked better.
Still, this was a great listen and I came back to it at every opportunity. But fair warning, there is definitely a lot of cursing, and plenty of explicit stories about drug abuse and deviant sex, so if you are easily bothered by these things, plan on skipping a lot of parts or pass on the book altogether.
On a final note, NOFX's new album First Ditch Effort was just released this week, and most of the songs seem to be a direct result of the band writing this book; now that their secrets are out, they're free to sing about them, and they do. It's a fitting companion to the book....more
I love this book. The first two books in the series are reasonably good but the jump in quality from those books to this one is a real surprise. The vI love this book. The first two books in the series are reasonably good but the jump in quality from those books to this one is a real surprise. The vibe is much creepier, the stakes much higher, the threats more dangerous, the characters more interesting, I could go on and on.
This being my second read-through of the series I feel fairly confident that a new reader could skip the first two books, begin here, and not be too lost. And for someone who is not sure about reading the series, that might even be the recommended path, since this is the book that I think will really convince someone to keep reading.
My favorite thing about this book, though, is how Christianity is treated as a whole. In a fantasy world where every deity and mythical creature is actually real, the Christian God could easily be treated as just another mythical god whose reality (in the fantasy world, that is) is very different from what his followers believe about him. But it seems implied by the characters and events of the novel that despite not being a "Christian" story by any means, God is treated as the creator, and he is very active in the life of at least one of his followers (Michael Carpenter, the obviously-named but otherwise awesome Knight of the Cross).
Of course, the story could have been just as good without this particular treatment of Christianity, but as a Christian myself (big surprise, right?) I am sensitive to this stuff and the truth is that outside of generally horrible "Christian fiction," God and his followers are almost universally treated as jokes at best and evil hypocrites at worst. So it's great to have such a good story that doesn't take the common road and instead treats the idea of God with respect.
So overall, this is a great series and this currently stands as my second favorite entry (after book 12, Changes)....more
Kind of hard to rate the first third of a story on its own. It definitely feels like Sanderson's creation, though. I may get tired of waiting for theKind of hard to rate the first third of a story on its own. It definitely feels like Sanderson's creation, though. I may get tired of waiting for the rest of it (supposed to be a year before volume 2) and just go and read the original White Sand e-book I got my hands on a while back. Interestingly, I did a quick check and it really does seem to cover a third of a novel, and only took a couple hours to read, so at least it won't be any trouble re-reading the first volume when the second is released....more