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It's only January and I may have read the best book I'll read all year. 13 Lives is the kind of science fiction I love. It isn't about the science, although there's certainly science there. It's about Arthur, a weak, sickly boy with an older, perfect, athletic brother he wants to be just like, an alcoholic father he does his best to avoid, and a mother he adores. He desperately wants to fit in, and when a local television repair man agrees to apprentice him, it's a door opening in Arthur's life.
Set in the 1950's, Arthur learns everything about the electronics trade. He takes home cast-off parts and builds tools to make his own life more enjoyable, like a television he can watch without his glasses, and a device that allows him to live in an imaginary world that he controls. But that isn't quite what he built. The Batter's Box lets him see the future and it isn't long before the government takes it.
And then world ends. Except for Arthur, who saw it coming.
13 Lives has a cadence that reminds me of Slaughter House. This isn't an accident. The repetition is purposeful, and that all comes together for you at the end (no spoilers). The characterizations are real and honest and the ending wrecked me. It's the kind of book that even knowing how it ends, I could read it again and get even more out of than I did the first time. This is well worth your time.
Where does The 13 Lives of a Television Repair Man rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
13 Lives of a Television Repairman ranks among the best audiobooks I have listened to.
Who was your favorite character and why?
The main characted, Arthur, really drives this novel and was my favorite character. Like all of us, he is flawed, which makes you root for him all the more as he makes his way through his incredible circumstances. You feel like a close friend is sharing his innermost feelings with you during the highs and lows of his life.
What about Nick Ralph’s performance did you like?
Very consistent. You felt like his voice was really the way Arthur would have delivered his story, especially the low-key humor found throughout.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I laughed several times at the low-key and sometimes sarcastic humor.
Any additional comments?
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes stories about real people who do extraordinary things or find themselves in fantastic circumstances. Arthur feels like someone any of us would know from our street or school. This is a story about relationships, inner turmoil and doubt, more than Sci-Fi. However, the Sci-Fi elements are very well done and believable.