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Some awful readings are spoling this book for me

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-05-20

After a bright start, now that it's the end of May I am thoroughly fed up with the wayward readings by Helena Bonham-Carter. She has a pleasant enough voice normally but here, much of the time, she sounds like a precocious child putting on a show for an adoring and uncritical group of family and friends. Ludicrous over-acting that would shame an early-years drama student. I know that reading of poetry is partly a matter of personal taste but I think the producer should have reined in Ms B-C's excesses.
That major point aside, the choice of poems is nicely eclectic. Again, not all to my personal choice (reading lyrics of songs seems aberrant for example), but that makes for variety, surprise and opportunity to discuss with others - I listen with my partner. We find it best to have the physical book handy to get the best from the poems.

Page-turner set in an imagined London Lockdown.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-05-20

Peter Forbes does his usual excellent job of narrating this early novel from Peter May. Back in 2005, May made some prescient decisions about how to plot a story about a (then) hard to imagine London under pandemic Lockdown. His vision was even more bleak than the reality of early 2020, but parallels are uncomfortably clear and no longer unimaginable. Unless the whole pandemic scenario is too painful for you, I think Peter May fans will enjoy this page-turner.

Sustained brilliant writing and narration

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-05-20

Don't be put off by other reviews - Ben Miles is a great narrator for this book. Just as well, because it is LONG, but the writing is very rewarding, maintaining its intensity throughout.

Great Science, good Fiction

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-04-19

As you would hope and expect, Jim's science is immaculate - covering a little understood and intriguing aspect of our planet's behaviour, its irregular swapping of North and South magnetic poles. As this reversal is "overdue" in geological terms, the phenomenon provides an excellent opportunity for exploring what its consequences might be for our modern world. I heard Jim say that all his speculations in this novel are based on sound scientific principles and I feel I have learned quite a lot from this book, while enjoying the fiction as the drama unfolds.

While science is fundamental to the book, I think there is a good balance between this and the storyline that provides for decent page-turning action. I can readily imagine a movie script-writer turning this into a high-tech blockbuster (though it might end up dumbed down). The narration is okay too, though for my ear sometimes lacked pace and confidence in the scientific elements. For a first novel, I think this is a fine result and I hope Jim finds the time and interest to write more fictional works that bring new scientific ideas to a wide audience.

Soporific reading of an unusual war story

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-11-18

Was recommended this, and wanted to like it more, but the ponderous narration drained the life from it. I am interested in the places where the book is set, where borders have changed many times since the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The book is well written, getting a good balance between the social and emotional stresses of people tending to the wounds of soldiers just behind the lines. But such a dreary reading of the book made it hard to maintain concentration. A great shame.

1 person found this helpful

Peter Forbes' narration transforms this book

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-06-18

I have enjoyed most of the Peter May books on audible - but only with decent narration. This was NOT the case for the first in the Enzo series (Dry Bones, with truly awful narration by Simon Vance). Thankfully the tie-up between May and Forbes is gradually making more of his titles great listens. This is one of the latest to be re-recorded - hooray!

The book itself is another good piece of detective work for the big Scottish forensic investigator, this time mainly on an island near Lorient in Southern Brittany. I reckon it will keep most listeners entertained - and probably guessing right to the end. I now look forward to Peter Forbes narrations of the remainder of the series.

9 people found this helpful

Comatose narration ruins average story

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-06-17

Stinker. If this won the Arthur C Clarke Award, then I dread to think what the other contenders were like. The narrator is just awful - disinterested voice, slow delivery, sounded as if he was on too high a dose of tranquillisers. Certainly won't listen to any other books read by him.

1 person found this helpful

A really good listen, but not Irving's best

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-10-16

John Irving has written some of the best American novels of the last few decades and this is a good one, but not up there with Hotel New Hampshire, Cider House Rules, Owen Meany or Garp, for my taste at least. Shame Audible hasn't rights to some of these, which have excellent audio versions out there.

As is typical of Irving, we explore episodes of the lives of the characters rather than follow the natural flow of time - this is so skilfully done that it does not confuse or distract - and we find that the past informs the present. Irving uses this to great comic effect, but also to add pathos. The present-day journey of the main character, famous author Juan Diego on a bizarre trip to the Philippines kept me entertained, but it was the stories from his early life in abject poverty in Mexico with his extraordinary disabled sister Lupe, that I loved the best. Armando Duran does a remarkable job of voicing this, especially the tortured voice of Lupe - he manages to bring to life both the compassion and grim humour of Irving's writing. Expect to laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time.

4 people found this helpful

Fast pace, but getting a bit silly in places

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-02-16

I enjoyed Brilliance and overall I enjoyed A Better World too, but this second book in the series is less credible and the narrator made mistakes which I found distracting. The rapid pace of action is maintained from the first book but unfortunately some chapters are ludicrous. But it was fun, so I will listen to Written in Fire, which must be a recommendation of sorts.

The X-Man in the High Castle

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-02-16

Much better than a comic book, here we have a parallel world – set in present day but where history took a different turn back in the 1980’s. The different turn was the result of “Brilliants” starting to be born. These are children with exceptional abilities, such as a massively enhanced ability to read people’s body language. I found this level of talent weirdly credible, unlike the silliness of X-Men or superheroes. The book is written and read with pace, reminiscent of books by Matthew Reilly. All in all, I was very happy to swept along by an excellent audio-equivalent of a great page-turner. Great fun and I look forward to listening to the others in the series.