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90% of this book is great. The story of Jess and why she ends up in prison and everything she goes through along the way is great. The surrounding characters are good, maybe a little shallow, but still colorful and interesting. The story line is really great. I was on the edge of my seat until almost the very end, really fascinated by where the story was going to go--I couldn't even guess as to how it would end or what would be revealed.
Then there was 10% of the book that was so trite, predictable, and simplistic that it distracted from what could have been great. It was the way different parts of the story "wrapped-up" and not just the ending, but a couple times throughout the story as well. The messy craziness of an all female prison with "voices" is the very beauty of the story, so when this author wraps things up in such a cliche, overly-neat way, it distracts from the essence of the story and almost ruins it.
The narration was also not-great. She didn't change her tone of voice ever. The male and female characters all sounded the same, which actually wasn't too much of a problem. What was worse is the "hero" and the villains (and in a female prison you get mean villains) all had the same voice, which was distracting from the action in the story.
I would recommend this book. The reason I read reviews, especially for a 17 hour long audio book is to set my expectations, so that's what I'm doing here, is maybe helping set expectations. It's good, it's entertaining, but not great.
92 of 102 people found this review helpful
I take no joy in criticizing a work of Mike Carey. He has created flat out masterpieces like the comics Lucifer and Suicide Risk, and complete joy rides like the Felix Castor series. And I liked The Girl with All the Gifts just fine, so I came to this work full of enthusiasm.
And I was pretty into if for the first few chapters. He was clearly pushing the boundaries, writing in a way he never had before. He wasn't writing with lightness, or with any comic relief; he was getting serious.
The problem is that he never let up. The book is relentlessly grim, without a moment's respite. It is 100 chapters of grim. Additionally, the characters are, with a few minor exceptions, utterly unlikable. There is just no hook to the book. By about Chapter 25, I was asking myself why I was continuing: I didn't like the story, I didn't like a single character, and the central character was acting in ways that defied credibility.
In short, I just didn't care. About any of the various storylines, about any of the characters, about the outcome. I continued out of the respect that I have for the author, and, really, felt only relief at the end, that I didn't have to listen any more. The writing in the last few chapters, the last chapter especially, was pretty extraordinary. But it didn't make up for what it took to get there.
43 of 49 people found this review helpful