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Captivating, hilarious, terrifying.

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

Reviewed: 22-01-16

Vermes and Rhind-Tutt do a fantastic job of portraying a convincing Hitler, as a man rather than a monster and all the more dangerous for it. I particularly liked the way Vermes portrays Hitler in his own voice as convinced of his own absolute consistency while at the same time having him subtly but blatantly contradict himself throughout the course of his monologue. He does a great job of putting forward a version of Hitler that feels human and who is capable of being very convincing in his arguments, but without losing many of the flaws the real man clearly had.

2 people found this helpful

Decent, gets better

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

Reviewed: 03-10-15

The mixture of science and metaphysics is quite interesting in the world building, but I found the protagonist a bit tiresome for a while. In the second half the plot suddenly becomes more competing and I listened to the last couple of hours in one sitting.

Scott Brick is a great narrator and has a lot of fun with the Chandleresque monologues.

Can't get enough Harkaway

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

Reviewed: 05-08-15

I came to this with some trepidation, having absolutely loved Angelmaker (which although written later, was the first available as an audiobook) a couple of years before. Harkaway has a real talent for creating compelling characters for whom the best adjective seems to be "quirky", but somehow that doesn't do them justice. He's also adept at weaving these characters into an essentially high concept novel, without them feeling like mechanisms, but also without making you wish you could ignore all the high concept stuff and just spend time with them. The plot and world-building are similarly excellent.

1 person found this helpful

Has promise

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

Reviewed: 04-08-15

The voice cast were great and the premise has potential, but it suffers from the inevitable comparison with old harry 's game. If the writers can come up with some more interesting ways to use the setup this could be great.

Don't read anything about this!

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

Reviewed: 19-12-14

I really enjoyed this, having come in completely cold and knowing nothing about the story or how it relates to Philip Pullman's previous work. If at all possible (though if you're reading this it's probably too late) I recommend doing the same. I listened because I'm a fan both of Pullman and of Nighy (who isn't?) and the reveals were all the more powerful because of it.

9 people found this helpful

Solid follow-up to Where the Bodies are Buried

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

Reviewed: 03-12-14

Chris Brookmyre does a nice job of following up on Where the Bodies are Buried, giving enough of a reminder for listeners (like me) who can't recall all of the details without retreading too much ground. Overall the plot of When the Devil Drives was a little convoluted in comparison to Where the Buried. While neither book was exactly harsh realism, this feels a little more Agatha Christie and a bit less Ian Rankin. Personally, I rather enjoyed that aspect of it though.

Jasmine Sharp and Glen Fallon continue to make for entertaining company and while the conclusion was in some respects predictable, it nevertheless felt well-crafted.

2 people found this helpful

Enjoyed more than most people

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

Reviewed: 17-11-14

I strongly suspect that if you're going to "consume" (read not really being the right word, in this context) Stephen Fry's 3rd and frankly, weakest, volume of autobiography - this is the way to do it. I am quite convinced that Stephen could read the phonebook in an enthralling manner, but towards the end of this memoir, when the diary entries kicked in, it almost felt like he was testing that theory.

Stephen's warmth, honesty and sense of confiding in the listener are as compelling as ever, but it feels like on this outing his writing lacks structure. Moab and Chronicles felt so much more like stories with a beginning, middle and end. Fool begins with a lengthy but enjoyable recap (I didn't begrudge this nearly as much as many reviewers) and several chapters which are as much thematic as sequential. I wonder whether a more explicitly thematic approach might have served Stephen better, as - for me - his sidelines on the topics of the Labour Party, the Prince of Wales, AIDS and America were the most engaging parts of the book. The anecdotes were generally entertaining and, of course, well-delivered. I think the allegations of humble-bragging/boasting and of name-dropping are rather unfair. If anything I'd have liked to know more about what it was like to work with Ben Elton, Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie and so on, though I can understand Stephen not wanting to invade anyone else's privacy for the sake of his own story.

The diary entries, perhaps more even than the recap section, are the most controversial part of the book. Here is where the phonebook test was closest to being applied. Personally, I still found this very interesting, most notably the story of how the Hippopotamus (the audiobook of which I heartily recommend, and listen to it before this because a) it's better and b) there is at least 1 major spoiler in this book, arguably two) came about. I nevertheless found that whenever there was a footnote, I wanted present-day Stephen to talk a bit longer, before reverting to 1993 Stephen. I was certainly disappointed when the coda following the diary entries was so brief.

In the end it comes down to this, Stephen is great company. This is without doubt structurally the weakest of his 3 memoirs to date, despite having some compelling stories to tell. Perhaps it needed to tell us how Stephen came to give up the cocaine, in order to give a sense of real closure. I feel like there's a least another volume, probably 2, yet to be told. After all, we have not yet got anywhere near QI - the creation of which is surely one of the seminal moments in Stephen's career to date. I await these further volumes with enthusiasm, but perhaps a slightly wearier enthusiasm than that with which I greeted this one. I hope Stephen's editors are a little more strict with him next time around.

It says much for Stephen's inherent likability that writing such a lukewarm review feels almost like a betrayal of his confidence. If I'm totally honest however, I wanted to love this book as much as its predecessors, but it just wasn't up to their standard.

Probably the best way to tackle this behemoth!

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

Reviewed: 06-08-14

Having read Stephenson's Quicksilver over a couple of months and having tried to get going on Anathem (currently put to one side, but that's partly because it's a hard copy brick) I thought this would be a good medium for Stephenson's brilliant but voluminous style. Boy was I right! I typically listen to audiobooks for about 2 hours a day (commuting) but sometimes a little more when I travel for work. This must have taken me over a month, but I really enjoyed it and was quite sad when it was all over.

In a way it doesn't feel like one immensely long opus, because there are actually 2-3 different narrative strands being brought together here, each of which has its own eddies and diversions. Stephenson loves to fit in some (sometimes gratuitous) mathematical and scientific digressions, which I personally enjoy, but I imagine could be a bit tiresome if you're really just looking for character and plot.

Fundamentally, this is a tale of the interaction of mathematics with the material world and of the impact that this apparently theoretical discipline can and does have on the world in which we live. There's quite a bit of philosophy and history thrown in too. Stephenson always writes with the assumption that his readers are as curious about everything as he himself is and seems to be at his best when exploring the hows and whys. His characters are vehicles for this and work perfectly well, if they're a little flat at times, this rarely feels like it really matters.

William Dufris's reading really brings the whole thing to life and simply being able to sit back and absorb the story, rather than wading through a punishing 1000-odd pages of novel is a much more manageable way to enjoy this book. For me, anyway.

15 people found this helpful

Cryptonomicon cover art

Probably the best way to tackle this behemoth!

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

Reviewed: 06-08-14

Having read Stephenson's Quicksilver over a couple of months and having tried to get going on Anathem (currently put to one side, but that's partly because it's a hard copy brick) I thought this would be a good medium for Stephenson's brilliant but voluminous style. Boy was I right! I typically listen to audiobooks for about 2 hours a day (commuting) but sometimes a little more when I travel for work. This must have taken me over a month, but I really enjoyed it and was quite sad when it was all over.

In a way it doesn't feel like one immensely long opus, because there are actually 2-3 different narrative strands being brought together here, each of which has its own eddies and diversions. Stephenson loves to fit in some (sometimes gratuitous) mathematical and scientific digressions, which I personally enjoy, but I imagine could be a bit tiresome if you're really just looking for character and plot.

Fundamentally, this is a tale of the interaction of mathematics with the material world and of the impact that this apparently theoretical discipline can and does have on the world in which we live. There's quite a bit of philosophy and history thrown in too. Stephenson always writes with the assumption that his readers are as curious about everything as he himself is and seems to be at his best when exploring the hows and whys. His characters are vehicles for this and work perfectly well, if they're a little flat at times, this rarely feels like it really matters.

William Dufris's reading really brings the whole thing to life and simply being able to sit back and absorb the story, rather than wading through a punishing 1000-odd pages of novel is a much more manageable way to enjoy this book. For me, anyway.

Fun, but goes on a bit

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

Reviewed: 24-07-14

I've enjoyed the previous books in this series and did rather enjoy some of the skewed takes Newman has on late 20th Century pop-culture. Overall, however, I felt distracted by the shear volume of reference catching to the point of being distracted from the actual plot. I think the appendices in particular tend to exacerbate this and I would recommend that anyone who in't really into Andy Warhol and the career of Orson Wells not bother with these parts.

All of which said, the story of Johnny Pop and his mission to resurrect Dracula is nicely told and at times the alt reality of this world is quite vivid and convincing. Gaminara's delivery has also improved over the previous books, where he used to often get confused about who was speaking and read in the wrong voice. Overall probably a 3.5 out of 5.

3 people found this helpful