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Mr. Dufris did an excellent job as always. Ms. Gilbert's porrayals of male characters had an irritating qualitty as well as lacking differentiation between male characters. Hearing that performance immediately after Dufris's oustanding portrayals of the same charaters resulted in Ms. Gilbert's portions of the narrative becoming difficult to listen to. Even that disparity might have only been slightly irksome if the personal 4th wall breaking acknowledgements from Ms. Gilbert were not included between sections of the book. That sort of thing is appropriate at the end of a book but in the middle it calls attention to the presence of a narrator rather than portrayal of the characters. Those interruptions banished my immersion in the book just as assuredly a bucket of water dumped on me would have. Editing out those 2 interruptions would significantly improve the audio book.
21 of 22 people found this review helpful
At the end of this audio edition of his latest entry in the “Old Man’s War” series, Scalzi himself comes on to say that he struggled when writing this book. I’d say it shows. This was one of the least engaging books I’ve read in a while. Broken into four large sections, each section reads like an independent novella. Although some of the characters recur, and there is an overall plot arc, each section has different point-of-view characters and explores a different slice of this universe.
The novella structure was not what I found objectionable. What I found strange was that the author decided to tell so much of his story via conversations. The reader is being told, over and over, by the characters, what is going on, rather than actually seeing it happen. For instance, a large chunk of one chapter features a group of politicians arguing about politics. Seriously, how did Scalzi think this was a good idea? There is a reason no one watches C-SPAN. Just imagine C-SPAN in written form and you have the general idea *snore*. In another section, four or five soldiers describe uprisings that have been happening on a variety of planets. It’s pretty thinly veiled commentary on the wars going on in the Middle-East today. There’s some action, but still an awful lot of talk. The last section features—you guessed it—more meetings and politicians talking themselves and the reader to death as they try to solve the dilemma set up in the first three sections of the book.
The best part of the book was the witty banter between some of the characters, notably the army grunts, but even the banter suffered from a sameness that anyone who has read a lot of books by Scalzi will readily recognize. Even the funny moments get a little boring when all the characters have the same razor-sharp wit and zing the bon mots in the exact same way. By the end of the book I was thinking if one more character said “Fair point” I was going to jump out the window.
[I listened to this as an audio book read by Tavia Gilbert and William Dufris, who did a serviceable job with less-than stellar content. It’s hard to make characters sound different when the author writes them all as carbon copies of each other.]
18 of 20 people found this review helpful
I am giving the narration five stars but the book was so compelling I finished almost all of it on my Kindle. The ending is a bit trite, but I can forgive that because the narrative and characterisation are so good throughout.
I could not finish the book. after part one there was no one I cared for or had sympathy for. I felt like I. .. the reader... had been written out of the book. .I really love all the author s books and had lots of fun working through his amazing talent. This book was thus a tremendous disappointment.