Michael Smith's Reviews > The Redbreast

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø
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's review
Nov 17, 2011

did not like it
Read in November, 2011

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo, narrated by Robin Sachs

I gave up on this book almost halfway in, on part 5 of 13 parts of downloadable audio. I found the pace tedious, with lots of unnecessary “gritty” detail. The flashbacks were especially irksome, being lengthy, dull, and jarringly changing the character point of view. The plot device of ending every chapter with “something about to happen which we can only guess at,” then its aftermath revealed rather dully in later chapters, wears thin after a while. It did work well for the first chapter. There is a lot of obvious manipulation of the reader and less of a real story here.

Yes, something seemed to be “starting to come together” by audio part 5, but by then I’d lost patience. So I probably missed something “big” later on; but in any case it didn’t seem worth the investment.

In the audio version, the narrator’s gravelly voice was frequently lost, especially during the flashback scenes where he was either trying to whisper (!) or else the audio engineers decided to make his voice even deeper and quieter. Why on earth these parts were done this way I have no idea, but every time the book went back to 1944 I found the voice extremely difficult to follow.

Whether or not the succeeding books improve I don’t care to find out.

What finally decided me against finishing this “Norwegian version of Stieg Larsson” is that Larsson’s series, while investigating some insanely dark crevices, nevertheless comes from a Romantic writing tradition: there is a heroine and a hero, and human ingenuity and courage triumph over evil. Nesbo’s Redbreast, on the other hand, strikes me as being aligned with a Naturalistic vision of people being more or less clever bags of meat enslaved by circumstance, and generally helpless in the face of the dark side, either their own or others’. Though Naturalism wants to proclaim itself as scientific, as real and objective, it has always struck me as being massive, dull, sociological, and just plain icky. I got tired of wading through it in this book.

So I started listening to War and Peace (about 60 hours to come), narrated by Frederick Davidson. What a relief!

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Al (new) - rated it 4 stars

Al You should have carried on the second part of the book is worth the dull start

Michael Smith Al wrote: "You should have carried on the second part of the book is worth the dull start"

Thanks, I may well do that at some point. I think it's rare for an author to get away with dull starts, though! Hopefully this one will be an exception to that.

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