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A Temple of Forgotten Spirits: The Complete Adventures of Jack Hong

Narrated by: Anthony Lee
Series: Jack Hong
Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins

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Summary

A young guy named Jack Hong hitchhikes throughout America following the keilin, a mystical unicorn out of Chinese mythology. The keilin leads him to 10 adventures with ghosts and other supernatural figures. These experiences reveal to him not only parts of American history he never knew but also his own identity and the role he will choose for his life.

©2018 William F. Wu (P)2018 William F. Wu

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 24-07-18

Liked the idea....

There were some interesting aspects to most of the stories, however, the narration was just sub-par, and I believe this kept the stories slow and found it difficult to relate to the character. As a general rule I like Chinese fantasy and art, however, the main character seemed so.....meh?! The history aspect to the stories needs to be told and this was the only part(s) I found interesting.

“I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.”

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Margaret
  • 10-08-18

Interesting bassis in folklore

This is the first book I’ve read/listened to by this author. I enjoyed the author’s notes after each short story. They added a level of interest, and insight into his intent behind the story. They improved my take on the stories since I felt the stories were average. The conclusion to the book tied all the stories together nicely. The main character lacked depth and I never came to feel for the guy. I don’t think it would have taken much to flesh out his personal story a bit more. The Chinese folklore (that the stories were based on) was interesting.

This is the first book I’ve listened to by this narrator (Anthony Lee). His narration tone was pleasant, and his character voices were good. However, his overall narration was average. He put inflections on words that people would not do when in conversation or relating a tale. This can made listening to the book more difficult to listen to because it disrupts the flow.

There are no explicit sex scenes, excessive violence or swearing.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and voluntarily left this unbiased review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Laura B.
  • 11-07-18

A Compelling Spiritual and Personal Journey

A Temple of Forgotten Spirits was originally published as a series of short stories between 1985 and 1993, but was always envisioned as a novel. This collection includes the entire story of Jack Hong, an aimless Chinese-American with little connection to his cultural heritage. In the first story, he has an encounter with a ghost (immediately establishing the supernatural thread throughout the stories) and then sees the keilin, a Chinese unicorn. According to legend, the keilin only appears at significant moments, so of course Jack is intrigued. He decides to follow the keilin, and in each subsequent story it leads him across the country to a supernatural encounter, a task to accomplish, and a greater understanding of Chinese-American history and/or his own identity.

Each of the stories could be read independently, but this is definitely a case where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Some stories are stronger than others, but there weren’t any I disliked, and I really enjoyed Jack’s character development during his quest-a quest which, intriguingly, feels both distinctly American and essentially Chinese.

I also really enjoyed the author’s notes, which appeared at the beginning of the book, after each story, and at the end. They increased my understanding of each story, and prompted me to research some of the historical events that inspired Jack’s experiences.

Anthony Lee gives a solid, straightforward reading of the stories. However, I would have preferred a stronger interpretation of the material, with a little more focus on tone, inflection, and narrator’s tools. The performance was perfectly fine, but I think there was room to do more with this book.

On the whole, I am very glad that I had the chance to experience this title, and I will be returning to these stories in the future.

I was given a free review copy of the audiobook, at my request, and am leaving this review voluntarily. All opinions expressed are my own.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Victoria Haugen
  • 18-08-18

REALLY LIKED IT!!

This is a beautiful collection of stories from William Wu that I really enjoyed. It was different from titles I usually listen to, and appreciate the beauty in the stories. The author's comments about each story was also very helpful and insightful. Follow the adventures of a Chinese-American as he travels and meets all sorts of interesting things. Very neat book, really enjoyed the writing and narration :)
I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Gabrielle
  • 09-02-19

The Temple of Forgotten Spirits

In this story we are along for the ride as Jack follows a Chinese mythical creature. The keilin draws Jack to many different people and places. Each of the people are Asian and have something to share with jack. As his adventures go on Jack learns more about his ancestors and how they were treated in America. Jack never even gave a thought to those that came before him and now on his journey he begins to learn about his culture and ancestors.

I enjoyed this book. It gives listeners a nice look at some of the Chinese and Asian cultures. I liked that each chapter took Jack somewhere else and that each time he learned a bit more about how Asians were treated in the past. After each chapter the author gives a little insight as to what it was about and why. I enjoy finding out things like this and found it an interesting addition. It was nice to see the main character grow with each adventure and become someone with a cause and worthiness. As an Asian myself I enjoyed seeing a book with Asian characters that is written and narrated by them as well. I know the question “Where are you from?” all too well and it was nice to see the way this author chose to deal with this question.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Casia P. Courtier
  • 03-02-19

I had to think about this...

I received an audible code via Audiobook Boom for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

A Temple of Forgotten Spirits is a full-length novel that is comprised of multiple short stories. It tells the story of a Chinese-American man and his journey across the United States on his search for a mythical unicorn. He is introduced to the history of the Chinese in America little by little.

I am a third generation Filippino-American (25% Filippino, if we get nitty-gritty). Unfortunately, I don't know anything about that part of my family and what I do know is just the history that my grandmother remembers. I don't know the culture and I'm still undecided about learning it. After all, is the history that rich in American culture?

So, I asked for this book because I already felt some kind of connection with the main character. He doesn't know his family background or the culture. He doesn't understand the intertwining history of being Chinese and Chinese-American. Just like I don't know anything about that part of my family. 

Now... I honestly didn't start liking the book. The main character, though having a similar cultural ignorance as me, didn't feel like there was any emotion behind him. I didn't like him as a person. I did like the other characters we meet in each story. They had substance, there was a struggle with them. Jack was... a witness.

And in retrospect, I think that was Wu's intention. He wanted Jack to be a blank slate. If Jack wasn't, he would fight what is new to him just like we fight what is new for us. By making him into a blank slate, Wu not only made the reader into the character but was making a point that Jack was on a journey to a rebirth of sorts.

With each passing story, Jack grows a personality. We may not know the Jack of the past but we are learning about the Jack of the present and future. It is the past of Chinese America that is important, not the vehicle we are using to view it.

It was because of this that I needed to sit back and think. I couldn't write a review right away because I would have made it into a 2 (because of Jack's lack of personality) or a 3 (because the stories we learn). Now, I think a 4 is more appropriate. 

The narrator does a decent job, though I did have trouble listening to him from time to time. The literary prose is good, it pulled me in and the minor characters meant something to me. But it is the emotional realization I have gained that seems to make a bigger impact for me. I'm growing more and more interested in learning about my own hidden culture after listening to this audiobook.

I recommend this for someone who doesn't know as much as they think about Chinese American history and for the people who don't know the history that is in their own blood and soul.

Final Rating: 4/5

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Shannon G
  • 02-02-19

Get the Book to Read Instead

The writing was done well and the characters interesting. I enjoyed learning about another culture's folklore and history. However, the narration tanked. Anthony Lee came across quite monotone with little distinction of character voices. If you are interested in this book, make sure you listen to the sample, that's how it is throughout. I had thought that maybe it would change up somewhere in the seven plus hours of narration but it does not. Not to mention his accent for the main character does not fit. Overall, my thoughts are...if you're interested in the story then buy the ebook or print version because the story is good. However, I can't recommend the audio book due to the narration taking away from the story.

I was given this free review copy audio book at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Midi
  • 22-01-19

Good stories but the narration...

First off: "I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review." 

So, this book is a bit of a departure from my usual book selection but I did find it enjoyable - only to a certain extent. I think I would have been better off reading the physical book rather than listening to it. This is a series of short stories about a Chinese-American man coming to understand his heritage interspersed with the author's personal observations after each. This piqued my curiosity as an Asian American myself having been raised 'American' by most standards with little knowledge of my Asian roots. The tales are interesting and under different circumstances, I could have gotten into each of them... but...

Almost from the get go, I found myself annoyed with the narrator. Jack is second generation American. I know I may be taking things too literally here - but Jack is second generation. Why is he being read with an accent at all? And fine, if Jack had a residual accent reflecting his Chinese upbringing, then all right, I'd have been ok with that. The thing is, it's not just any accent the narrator uses but an accent that brings to mind a decidedly Native American character not a Chinese American. That was the kicker for me and bit jarring to the narrative. If this had been a book about Native American tales or such, it would have been spot on. I even had my husband listen and immediately he was like "why's the Chinese guy talking like some stereotypical Indian chief out of a movie?" Once that glass was broken, it was hard to get into the story without the narrator's accent in the forefront like nails on a chalkboard...

So all in all, if you're not one to be distracted by accents and inflections in a reading, the story is good. Even the author's commentaries between tales are interesting. For me, it was a difficult listen. Your call.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cleocutie
  • 11-01-19

Interesting set of stories

This is an interesting set of stories that all center around a Chinese American man hitchhiking across America. Each story is a standalone, which makes it nice for when you have limited time and don't want to stop in the middle of a story. But some of them do mention others in the book, which ties them together nicely.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • CRAZY4PEANUTBUTTER
  • 09-01-19

Okay

BOOK REVIEW.......
I found this book to be an okay story. Could have used a little more work but over all it was okay

NARRATOR REVIEW..........
I think it might have been better with a different narrator. I've listened to this narrator before and thought he did good but he didn't seem to bring it for this book. Maybe he like me just wasn't feeling the book either.