Thoughts on the story: Boneshaker is a steampunk rollercoaster. It takes you on quite an adventure throug...moreThis review pertains to the audiobook version
Thoughts on the story: Boneshaker is a steampunk rollercoaster. It takes you on quite an adventure through a minefield of “rotters” (zombies), pirates, mad scientists and an assortment of other bad guys and crazies all the while traveling through a poisonous atmosphere tainted with a contagion that will turn you into one of the mindless undead.
My only complaint about the book is that the “rotters” are basically your typical movie zombie but if possible a little dumber. I think the story would have been improved if the zombies were a little more intelligent or if they had developed better hunting strategies. Of course, if the zombies were more efficient killers they may have made it impossible for people to survive in the city for as long as they did..
One small zombie complaint aside, this book was very entertaining. There is peril on every side and you never really know who Zeke and Briar can trust. On top of that there is an underlying mystery that will have you guessing until the very end.
Thoughts on the audio production: This was the first audiobook I’ve listened to that was narrated by Wil Wheaton and only the second book I’ve listened to that was narrated by Kate Reading. (The other being “The Host” by Stephanie Meyer) I felt that both narrators put forth a wonderful performance. I did find myself wishing that the voice of Zeke could have been performed by Wil and the voice of Briar could have been performed by Kate throughout the entire novel. Instead, chapters were broken up between the two narrators. Throughout most of the book this strategy works really well since Briar and Zeke are rarely together. However, at the beginning and the end of the book when the two characters are together it feels a little weird to hear Zeke’s voice narrated by Kate instead of Wil. Other than this one small complaint the overall audio experience was excellent.
Overall: Not knowing what to expect from the genre and the author I found myself excited by both. It is always nice to find a new author to follow and doubly so to find an entire genre. Boneshaker delivered a great experience and I would highly recommend it to fans of the genre.
Every time I hear a book recommendation from Stephen King it gets me moving. Either straight to the library, bookstore or to my audible.com account. W...moreEvery time I hear a book recommendation from Stephen King it gets me moving. Either straight to the library, bookstore or to my audible.com account. When he says it’s good I can usually take it for granted that I’m going to love it. When I saw a tweet come through @audible_com saying that Stephen King said when you read The Passage “the ordinary world disappears” I was immediately hooked and I was downloading it to my ipod about 10 minutes later.
When I started listening to this book I admit that I was a little disappointed by the prolonged plot development. I expected vampires to be around every corner from the very beginning. I know it’s not fair for me to expect a novel of this size and complexity to develop without laying some serious groundwork but that’s how I felt after reading the reviews and all the hype that proceeded my reading of this book. What kept me going and kept me intrigued through this stage was just how well it was written. Characters were fully developed and believable and eventually you understand that maybe this “vampire” book is different from all the other vampire books you’ve ever read. In fact as you proceed through this book that is exactly what you will understand.
Cronin’s vampires are not the Bela Lugosi type. They are not descended from a long line of bloodsuckers going back to the time of Dracula. I think it’s also safe to say that the vampires or “virals” are not Bella Swan’s type either. There are no glittering vampires prancing around in this novel and from what I’ve seen so far it is unlikely for a human + viral love story to break out in any of the subsequent books in this series.
Cronin’s vampires have a very mysterious sci-fi/biomedical/apocalyptic origin that is brought to life through the reading of email correspondences sent by researchers who are exploring the depths of the jungles of Bolivia. An exploration to solve “the mystery of death itself” that is sponsored by the military. Of course, the expedition doesn’t go as planned and the virus is unleashed on the explorers.
Rather than containing the problem by dropping a nuke on the area the military decides to try and harness the power of the virals. What could possibly go wrong? The military begins to test strains of the virus in hopes of developing a mild mannered vampire that could be controlled and used as a weapon. As test subjects, they select from a pool of already mild mannered convicted killers currently on death row. I suppose the thinking here was that nobody was going to miss these people right? Maybe they should have selected from a group of people who had less of a blood thirst already. Of course eventually things start to go awry. The unknown powers of the virals result in a security breach that allows for their escape.
The only light in the darkness at this point in the novel is the mysterious child named Amy. Amy is a bit of a mystery. She was also selected by the military to be tested with the latest strain of the virus. The effect the virus has on her body is significantly different than what has happened to the other test subjects. Even before she was abducted for testing Amy had some mysterious powers that will hopefully be explained in the next installment of this series.
Shortly after the escape of the virals the novel jumps 90 yrs into the future to a time where the virals have basically destroyed the entire country. Small isolated communities continue to survive in this environment by relying on technology that was left behind by their ancestors. Huge lights keep the virals away during the night. Lights powered by batteries that are slowly dying.
Cronin paints an interesting picture of First Colony in the San Jacinto Mountains of the California Republic where the story picks up. Explaining their politics, frustration and general fear of the unknown. They live their life knowing that if the lights go out the virals will come in.
Jumping so far into the future and picking up on the lives of a completely different set of characters was a bit disorienting at first but you eventually forgive the author as the action intensifies. As new leads develop regarding the root cause of the virals a group of individuals sets out on a mission in hopes of learning the truth.
Their mission takes you on an intense viral ridden ride through the west into the unknown. For fear of giving away too much I won’t elaborate on any additional details.
However I will say that I can’t see how this series can be resolved in two more books. Even books the same size as The Passage. I loved every minute of this audiobook but the war against the virals doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to being won by the end of The Passage. Much work is left to do if humanity is to prevail.
I won’t hold it against Mr. Cronin if it takes six more books to finish the story instead of the predicted two.
Thoughts on the audio production: Well you just can’t go wrong with Scott Brick. It is no wonder he has over 400 recordings under his belt. I’ve read some other reviews of his narration on this book that were unfavorable but I just can’t see what they are complaining about. His narration was consistently compelling throughout the entire novel. His voice acted out all of the emotion that filled the pages of The Passage and totally enhanced my overall experience. I would gladly listen to another book read by Mr. Brick.
Overall: Did it live up to the hype? Yes. If you haven’t already go out and get this book. Understand though that this isn’t like other vampire novels you have read in the past. Give it time to develop. Early in the book there is groundwork being laid that is crucial for the rest of the series. Lastly you may want to keep a flashlight next to your bed.
I deliberated for a long time before buying this audiobook. I had been on such a science fiction and fantasy kick that I didn’t feel like I was in the...moreI deliberated for a long time before buying this audiobook. I had been on such a science fiction and fantasy kick that I didn’t feel like I was in the right frame of mind to enjoy a detective novel. I think what finally made me try this series was the release of the final book in the Millenium series “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest”. I don’t know why but I’m a sucker for Trilogies!
The star of the book is obviously Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth is a 24 yr old extremely violent, hacker with a photographic memory. Her exploits throughout the book kept me coming back for more and carried me through some of the more boring sections of the book involving Mikael Blomkvist’s investigation.
Stieg Larsson certainly had a gift for weaving together an interesting mystery but unfortunately it felt like this book unraveled too soon. The main mystery of the novel was solved and I looked down at my iPod and wondered why I still had three hours left to the book. Breaking the story up into two distinct sections like this may have been unavoidable since some of the information needed to go after Blomkvist’s target was part of his reward for solving the Vanger family mystery. That being said, the ending to this book was a very anticlimactic and really did not motivate me to jump right into the sequel “The Girl Who Played With Fire”.
Narration: The narration was incredible. Simon Vance, as usual, turned in a great performance. (I have particularly enjoyed his work with Guy Gavriel Kay)
Overall: Will I ever read it again? Most likely not.
Will I finish the series? Yes. Like I said before I’m a sucker for trilogies.
This review refers to the audiobook version of this book
Story: Beneath is one of those stories that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go. It opens...moreThis review refers to the audiobook version of this book
Story: Beneath is one of those stories that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go. It opens in the arctic when a meteorite is seen hurtling across the sky. After the meteorite was located and it was found to contain extraterrestrial microbial life I knew I was hooked. I remember listening to the description of what happened to the first man to come in contact with the microbes and thinking “Whoa, this is going to be cool.”
The book is fast paced and fun and made for great listening while relaxing on the beach.
One problem that I had while listening to this story was how eager everyone was to travel to one of Jupiter’s moons. Currently I think it would take at least 13 months for a spacecraft to reach Jupiter. So the entire team was willing to commit two years of their life in just the commute to and from Europa. It is not until after the team has committed to the trip that they learn that it will only take 3 months. I think that if I were either an oceanographer, biologist or geologist and I was approached with an offer to travel to one of Jupiter’s moons I probably would have told them to forget about it. (My wife would kill me!) I suppose there are probably those out there that would jump at the chance to go but when listening to this book it seemed unlikely that every member of Connelly’s team would be so eager to sign up. However, after finishing the book and learning more about the relationship between the team members I think it is much easier to understand why each person decided to go.
There were also times in the book when I felt like yelling “Don’t do that you idiot!” or “Would you just get the heck out of there already?”. Some of the characters just seemed to lack common sense. Especially Connelly and Peterson! They allow their pursuit of science to compromise both the safety of themselves and their entire crew. As frustrating as these things seemed at the time I find myself looking back on all of those situations and I realize that they did in fact add a great deal of excitement and suspense to the overall experience.
To summarize, Beneath was a really fun listen. It was refreshing to listen to a book with no expectations of what the crew would find. Once they hit Europa anything was possible and it was nice to be immersed in such an environment. I will definitely look for more Jeremy Robinson titles in the future.
Thoughts on the audio production: This was the first book that I have listened to that was narrated by Jeffrey Kafer. One of the things I noticed when listening to Jeffrey narrate was that he seemed to alter his voice in such a way that it conveyed distance between the main character in the section and the secondary characters. I might be crazy but it felt like I was able to figure out how far apart all the characters were by just closely listening to the narration. Maybe I’m crazy.. anyone else know what I’m talking about? Anyway, I felt like Mr. Kafer’s performance was exceptional and added a layer of depth to all of the characters.
Overall: Definitely a fun book. Worth picking up and taking to the beach. Lots of suspense, mystery, aliens, etc.
Story: Johannes Cabal The Necromancer is a page turning, dark, comic fantasy told from the point of view of one necromancer sans a soul. The story beg...moreStory: Johannes Cabal The Necromancer is a page turning, dark, comic fantasy told from the point of view of one necromancer sans a soul. The story begins as Cabal summons a demon and is transported to hell where he forces his way through to see “The Man”. Cabal is there to request the return of his soul which was previously bartered away to Satan. Surprisingly, Cabal finds Satan in a fairly agreeable mood. Cabal convinces Satan to bargain with him. The deal? Cabal has to collect 100 souls within one year in order to reclaim his own. So begins Cabals quest.
I had a great time listening to this book. The characters were dark, deep and mysterious with perfect comedic timing. Howard did an excellent job “fleshing out” each character with sinister wit. The dark humor displayed by Cabal and the carnival crew was probably my favorite part of the book.
That being said there were a few areas that were disappointing.
With the help of Satan’s Carnival the bulk of the 100 souls needed seemed to just collect themselves. There really wasn’t much drama associated with the monumental task until the end. At one point, Cabal even charted the status of his collection and was comfortable that he would finish with several weeks to spare. Of course, shortly after that chart was created Cabal suffered a few set backs but nothing that truly threatened the completion of his task.
I also expected some drama from the amount of Satan’s blood that was provided to Cabal for invoking demons. I assumed that at some point this allowance would dry up and cause Cabal some problems but it never seemed to be much of an issue.
My last complaint is that the environment seemed to just be a mashup of villages, farms, graveyards and train stations. The characters were masterfully developed but the world in which they lived was not.
Audio Production: Christopher Cazenove was excellent. I’m eager to listen to more of his work.
Overall: I found the story to be a very entertaining twist on the Faustian legend. Howard’s depiction of Cabal’s antics made me laugh out loud on several occasions. Just imagine the audacity it must take to stroll into hell and start making demands and pulling practical jokes on demons.
I would have preferred a little more of a revelation at the end of the book to completely explain Cabals motivation to become a Necromancer but the reader is given just enough to make them think. Maybe we will learn more in the sequel?