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Strangely Appealing

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

Reviewed: 23-03-20

Lets start with performance.
Vikas does a perfectly solid performance, is easy to listen to and has a sense of eagerness that really drives this story on. In fact, part of the attraction to this book is his narration, which really helps drive the plot.

Story:
There is nothing world shattering or phenomenal about the story, which means I couldn't give it 5 stars. It lost one more star due to a couple reasons. The first is the writers tendency to spell everything out as if you are watching a screen, "Zombie 2303 is online, Zombie 0482 is online....(4 more times), a bit of editing could cull this and make the story flow better. The protagonist seems to have a lot of anger, but is missing a chapter making us understand this. In contrast books with a similar premise, Snowcrash and Ready Player One, show how bad the world is outside and how this shapes the character. The end result is that the protagonist can come off as unlikable a number of times. Finally throughout the book the writer nods that the attraction to the game is difficult to define and the financial viability of the game is in question, that said, these are real issues. We live in a world where people have died playing World of Warcraft, MMOs are a regular thing and the description of the game we keep hearing from the protagonist makes it really seem like it would struggle to get enough people to ever play, worse the game will kill hundreds of people due to aspects of its design. That and that it is only a game with no real stakes really drew me from the story at times.

Now there are the negatives out the way. Lets talk positives. Once you get past that and get to what's going on, there is something oddly compelling about this book, much like a Dan Brown novel its really hard to put down. It's a perfect "relaxation" read, when you want something rather non-serious and to just be taken away with it (except when the above negatives occur). There are so many little aspects and details of the game, which are rather nice and reminds me of playing Left for Dead. I actually blitzed through it in a day a half, not wanting to stop listening. I'll happily listen to the next instalment, but there is a limit to how long I would want to stay in the world.

An unexpected delight

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

Reviewed: 21-03-20

Having not heard of the author I went off recommendations. This story feels like a breath of fresh air in the Sci fi genre. It explores "what if" questions and intertwines this with a lovely narrative.

The narrator does a stellar job of capturing the emotions and persona of the different characters.

I will most definitely listen to this again (which is one of my 5* criteria)

A genuine please and an absolute surprise

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

Reviewed: 11-03-20

Okay, my initial impressions. I have never heard of the author and the cover looks cliche, but I decided to give it a go anyway due to loving Ray Porter's narration.

What I found was a story I couldn't stop listening to.

The story itself is an alternate future story set at the height of the cold war. The USSR launched Gagarin into space only for it to crash into an alien spaceship. Uncertain what had happened, the USSR respond in the way one would expect a country to at that time. From there the story tries to re-imagine what each key individual would do at the time and how the world would react. It's a captivating story and I am definitely interested in reading more of the authors work since then.

Now onto the Narration. There is a reason why Ray Porter sells a story for me.
Put simply.
1* Performance - I can't listen to.
2* - The narrator tells the story and is "fine", audio equipment can be less than ideal, the narrator likely only has one voice.
3* - Generally a good narration, good equipment and I'll happily listen to the narrator any day (I generally Will Whedon here, who's performances I do enjoy)
4* - The narrator ducks and weaves with the story and has a handful of voices
5* - Either like 4* but more, the narrators natural voice will often match the genre/locale of the story (vague I know listen to Sense and Sensibility by Karen Savage and hopefully that should make it clear) or listening to an audio-drama (See the Alien 3 script interpretation) with several actors and sound effects.
Ray Porter really nails this performance, his natural accent works excellently with the America-centric story. You can easily tell characters apart without (he said, she said)

Reminiscent of Scott Card

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

Reviewed: 13-02-20

I've read this series from start to finish it was an unexpected gem. Echoing the manners of old Sci Do, embracing thought experiments of different civilizations, how they interact how we might interact. It really reminds me of the latter books of the Ender's game series.
a solid read.

A delightful surprise

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

Reviewed: 09-02-20

Having never heard of the author or book I picked it up as a trial and was surprised as I rapidly became hooked. Taking from Alan Moore's playbook superheros and half hero's show flawed features as much as the rest of humanity, no loft worthy goals, mostly people living and dealing and facing their own inner turmoil as much as the rest of us. With this all said it side steps the feeling of hopeless often present in other such books. The world is not a dystopia, it just is.
5 stars as I not only recommend it, but will reread it, one day.

A solid edition to GW lore.

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

Reviewed: 07-02-20

The story is pretty perfect for someone new to 40K or for those who wish to know what happened to those who held the line. The plot is nothing earth shattering (excuse the gag) and it feels a bit muddled at the end, but the characters are interesting and developed. Each one suffering from the events of the past in their own manner and learning to move on and it's here were the series could really distinguish itself.
I look for to the next installment.

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Why did they not make this script

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

Reviewed: 20-01-20

Story is spot on with horror and action elements.
It adds to the world. The franchise could have been so much better if this was made.
the casting of the audiobook is phenomenal, solid all round.

A solid story in an interesting world.

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

Reviewed: 18-01-20

Scalzi's books for me always have a solid world to them, this said his writing style and story composition. This is definitely one of his better ones (Old Man's War being the peak). Wonderful narrated by Wil Wheaton who misses the 5th star due to the lack of range in voices between characters.

An enjoyable story. I'd listen to more

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

Reviewed: 10-01-20

Firstly the narrator is excellent. a range of different voices, good pacing, easy to listen to.

The first half of the book is a solid 4 stars, the second half slowly descends to three as I felt the story could have been trimmed and I would have preferred a different trajectory. The writing itself is sound.

This said I've given it four stars. It's unlikely I'll return to this book but it was a fun page turner.

A fun romp, with some room for improvement

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

Reviewed: 03-12-19

First things first, Narration by Wil Wheaton is solid narrator and enjoyable. The story is a run sci-fi romp, but honestly if you haven't encountered John Scalzi you should be listening to Old Man's War instead.

My three star rating is due to the following.
If I would immediately recommend, talk about a book a lot or want to go back to the book a couple more times it gets 5 stars. (For note Old Man's War hits this criteria).
If a book is so bad I don't finish it, it gets 1 star.

This book gets 3 stars because while enjoyable the writing tends to be rather repetitive in places which really takes away from the listening pleasure. Repetition of "[Character Name] did action. [Character Name] did action. [Character Name] did different action." and quips which feel out of place and that serve to remove one from action scenes, combined with constant "he said, she said", which works well for books, but detracts from audiobooks.