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I read both of Grossman's Magician books, and I enjoyed and recommend those without reservation. There, he created interesting characters and your journey with them through an exciting story arcs gracefully from beginning to end.
In Codex however, the main story starts very slowly, after many minutes of defining the main character as an entitled, shallow, and barely likable guy. I developed a theory about halfway through that the author was following some sort of novelist's rulebook that contained requirements like "when describing a character's action (especially a love interest), always use exactly two adjectives; e.g. 'as she turned, her silky, raven hair fanned out in a sensuous, liquid arc before coming to rest on her slender, tanned shoulder.' " If there was a drinking game where you had to take a swig of beer every time that happened, you'd pass out by chapter 8.
The narrator's delivery is flat when reading plot, sometimes singsongy when reading descriptions (I think he noticed the author adhering to the above rule too), but very good when doing character voices.
Throughout the story I kept thinking things like 'this reminds me of Da Vinci Code' or 'this reminds me of a Neal Stephenson book.' I don't consider it a bad thing if that happens, and I kept thinking 'yeah, but I wonder where Grossman's going to go with that already proven idea...'
Unfortunately, it goes almost nowhere. I'm echoing other reviewers, but this book doesn't do much more than POINT to tasty plot potentials and only randomly does it seem to let us have so much as a bite.
The one area where we are served an unexpectedly rich treat was all the time spent describing the history of books. Had he spent more time taking us down those paths, and less time half-explaining the things that were supposedly propelling the plot and motivating the characters, I don't think I'd have felt the book so objectionable.
I haven't written many reviews, and I feel bad coming out strongly against what obviously took a ton of effort to create. This is the first time ( in many years as an avid Audible listener ) that I feel the difference between what I enjoyed and what I didn't like were so wildly out of balance.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about Codex?
The ending. At best, this book was intended as a first book in a series, because the ending is a complete let down. It's as if the author just gave up and left the characters standing where there were in the story. Because of this huge flaw, I would not recommend this book.
Any additional comments?
This is a well imagined story, with rich characters and an unconventional storyline in the world of rare books. Jeff Harding does a great job creating a distinct voice for each character. Too bad about the ending.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful