Private Franklin Grillo is a fresh-faced infantryman in the 101st Airborne. He's been dispatched to the Ardennes Forest outside of Bastogne to assist Baker Company against a surprise attack by the Germans. Outgunned, low on ammo, food, and supplies, the men along the new front are up against an army 10 times their size. Barely able to hold out the 101st now face a new threat. German soldiers who take massive amounts of damage but keep on attacking.
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I picked this story for a couple of reasons: I wanted and fairly short read, as a filler between some new releases to which I was looking forward, and, well, zombies. Reading the summary and seeing the cover, I expected epic battles between American soldiers and German Nazi zombies, and honestly, not much else; I was wrong.
It's the height of World War II and a German Sergeant and his men are ordered to take an experimental drug that will give them extra strength, and even keep them from feeling pain. Meanwhile, American soldiers are hunkered down in fox holes dodging mortars. Low on ammunition, outnumbered, and with little reinforcements, they feared the worst. No matter how many Nazis they took out, two more seemed to take their place. Things go from bad to worse as the Nazis seem to be going crazy, displaying baffling tactics, and forcing some unlikely yet necessary alliances.
This was not a very exciting book. As I said, I was expecting a face-paced, action-packed zombie battle. Instead, the story developed rather slowly and almost lost my interest. It's saving grace was the authors addition of backstories to the main characters. There are several character points-of-view in this book, and the author added some depth to them with background of their past, or who they're hoping to come home to, etc. Character development is a big deal for me; I am much less concerned with what the characters are doing than I am why they are doing it. So, while some of the soldiers' stories were somewhat cliche, they humanized the men, making me care about what happened to them, and helping the rather dull plot become interesting.
Narration duties were done by Todd Menesses, who didn't seem to enjoy the book much. I've heard his narration on another book and was not disappointed but his reading as the narrator of the tale was not very enthusiastic, and somewhat dull in itself. I feel he read at too slow of a pace, and trailed off at the end of each sentence as if it were the end of a chapter with a cliffhanger. His voice is great, though, and his character voices were awesome and unique to one-another, making it easy to differentiate between the each one.
While I enjoyed Screaming Eagles, it is not a book aimed at multiple markets. It's for zombie fans, maybe the adventurous historical fiction enthusiast. The production quality was very good and, even with his unenthusiastic reading as the narrator, his performance as the soldiers was very good.
Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.
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They thought they understood their enemy…
World War II — being in the trenches and fighting off the German soldiers was bad enough. What would happen if the SS/Nazi’s came up with a new drug that made their soldiers almost unstoppable? This is a story about that.
Todd Menesses narrates this story and absolutely crushes it. He has an awesome history channel-like voice that really brings this story alive. His performance (and yes, it truly was a performance) was perfect — voicing different characters from different areas in perfect dialects. Menesses will definitely be a narrator that I will be looking for when I’m buying my next audiobook.
I’m a big history buff, I love studying the different wars and different time periods to figure out what life was like or what battle could have felt like. I feel like Screaming Eagles really pulls off the feeling of “being there” in the trenches of World War II. Granted there is a lot more going on than actually happened during the war, but that makes it an even better story.
Knowing that the SS were experimenting with drugs during this time makes this story even more believable. There were a couple times that I actually wondered if something similar to this actually happened.
The pacing of the story was awesome, the reader is thrown from person to person and story to story throughout the book. As soon as you feel comfortable it changes to someone else — giving the story a multi-faceted look from many different points of view.
Screaming Eagles was a hell of a book — told like a true story during WWII — it was so realistic I felt like I was really there with these men. I will definitely be looking forward to the next books in this series and I really hope that Menesses narrates those as well.
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