AUDITEUR

Daniel Jo

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Great political/spy thriller!

Au global
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Histoire
5 out of 5 stars

Évalué le: 2020-05-30

I have an odd relationship with thrillers. On one hand, I love the plotting -- the twists, the machinations, and the conflicts --, but on the other hand, they poke at my anxiety. Redemption isn't so harsh on the latter and is strong on the former.

Characters in the book are wonderfully written: with strengths and weaknesses and complex motivations. The title is also the general theme that applies not just to the main protagonists, but most of the central players -- antagonists included. It's the driving desire behind much of what goes on and is interwoven within the plot in an exemplary fashion.

I will certainly be checking out further books in the series.

Comprehensive in the extreme

Au global
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Histoire
5 out of 5 stars

Évalué le: 2019-12-14

I was inspired to read upon the Battle of Midway following my viewing of Roland Emerich's film, Midway. My impression had been that the film gave the standard Hollywood treatment to the real event, but to my surprise it did a fair job. There was drama beyond the scope and context of the battle itself, but while a serious treatment on the event can be objective, a film must be character driven. To that end, the film tells what is largely a dramatic story about certain characters. Having gotten that, I also wanted to know more about the battle itself. This book provides that exceedingly well.

Beyond the battle itself, the book provides its context within the larger Pacific War. It explains much regarding Japanese battle doctrine, the hostility between military branches, and the factional infighting within the branches themselves. There is yet more regarding Japanese carrier designs and damage control practices -- and how they contributed to their own demise. All of this and more brought about the result of the battle.

The biggest takeaway is that the battle did not determine the outcome of the war. Japan simply could not have won it. They had not the industrial capacity to replace losses, as the US did. Even if they took Midway, they could scarcely have kept it supplied -- let alone mount an invasion of Hawaii or the US west coast. The Japanese loss at Midway may have shortened the war, though. Japan's fleet was the culmination of a decade of work -- and they lost four carriers. At peak during the war, the US was launching ships every month. Losing one carrier, the Yorktown, was bad on a tactical level, but far less significant in the long run. Even had the US lost all three at the battle, more would have followed and in a war of attrition, Japan could not keep up.

If you have an interest in the real history of the battle and in details regarding WW2 naval operations, read (or listen to) this book.

Wonderful world-building

Au global
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Histoire
5 out of 5 stars

Évalué le: 2019-08-18

The first novella's setting is designed in a fairly minimalist way. The kingdom and its king are not named, but this serves to emphasize some quasi-religious mystique about the latter. This is connected to how the story's magic works. The underlying premise of the story is fairly basic: a child is murdered in what turns out to be a part of a ritual with what is planned to have catastrophic results for the realm. The narrative is highly introspective, which slows the pacing somewhat, but it also serves to provide great insight into motivations and reasoning.

The second novella is even slower paced, though part of this is due to the style of narrative. Again, it is very introspective, but the language used is verbose and seems to mimic the narrative style of several decades past. It is a far more politically-oriented tale (as in the setting's politics), light on action and very heavy on information and dialogue.

Scott Brick does a wonderful job, as always, narrating the first novella. Kevin Orton's reading of the second seemed stilted and wooden, but on reflection that is rather in keeping with the manner of the protagonist-narrator.

Continuing to be great

Au global
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Histoire
4 out of 5 stars

Évalué le: 2019-06-01

Michael C. Grumley followed up Breakthrough with another solid entry. The characters remain great and the plotting has improved making for a marked improvement all around.

One complaint I had with the previous entry was with regards to the antagonist, who seemed rather one-dimensional. I didn't see any motivation for his behaviour save for a misguided belief in his own correctness and in his future political ambitions. These are valid motivations, but are rather uninteresting. He was more of a cookie-cutter villain -- completely forgettable.

In Leap, the antagonists have some emotional depth that underscores their actions. There is one exception, but he is more of a pawn -- and a psychopath, to boot. The others are driven by real issues in their lives: anxieties and desires. This provides context and meaning that is absent in antagonists who are simply evil.

I look forward to continuing with these series in the future.

A great sub-genre fusion

Au global
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Histoire
4 out of 5 stars

Évalué le: 2019-05-08

Gregg Hurwitz enters the realm of young adult fiction with an interesting fusion of zombie and alien invasion sub-genres. That sentence isn't much of a spoiler, as both facts are abundantly clear early on. The devil is in the details, however, and and it's those detail that make this book so interesting.

Overall the book remains a thriller, Hurwitz's specialty, and it's a good one. I've come to the conclusion that an important part of the reading (or listening experience) when it comes to thrillers is that the reader must simultaneously be eager to learn what happens next, yet also dreads to find out. There must be an undercurrent of great risk to the characters that sometimes hits home. There must be failures, even tragedies, and enough of them to make the reader really feel that there's a great possibility that the current action might go against the protagonists. In this, I found The Rains a great success.

The action is sometimes a little over-the-top, but not extremely so. It falls within the realm of action films, with enough exaggeration to be exciting, but not so much as to make one wonder about the physical humanity of the characters. In this, I have nothing really to complain about. Characterisation matters more: their motivations during these sequences, how they feel and react to their situations, and how they behave towards each other. It's far more important that realism exists there and Hurwitz shows great skill in crafting the characters.

There isn't really a singular villain. Like any zombie plot, it's more of a matter of the world broadly turning against the protagonists. There is a in important figure later into the book, but even that figure doesn't factor as an individual who seems to be ultimately critical to defeat. It's important, sure, but not the main focus. Again, as a zombie plot, it's the entire situation that's against the protagonists.

If there is one named individual who seems to act against the protagonists, it's the character of Ben Bratton. He, however, is less of a villain than he is a foil. Ultimately, he has the same interest of survival as everyone else, but has less motivation to be proactive. He's a bully, but rather defensive in stance, and it is revealed that his actions are driven by what amounts to a rather nihilistic view of his life in the town. He is by no means one-dimensional, though he tends to vacillate between being a blatant impediment and being regretful over his actions. In short, he's very human.

The protagonists themselves are strong and virtuous. Chance Rain idolises his big brother Patrick, who is very much a decisive leader. It comes almost to the point where I initially thought that Patrick was ultimately the hero of the story, with Chance as the narrator playing witness to it all. That's not quite the case, however, as (like all good YA fiction) there is a measure of growth in Chance over the course of the book.

The story does not end with this volume. Indeed, The Rains ends in a bit of a cliffhanger. I fully intend to listen to the second book, though perhaps after a bit of a break from thrillers.

The narrator, Todd Haberkorn, turns out a great performance. He provides a youthful sounding voice to Chance and rather shocked me with his first voicing of Patrick's girlfriend, Alexandra. I thought a female narrator had popped in for a moment...

An unexpected gem

Au global
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Histoire
4 out of 5 stars

Évalué le: 2019-04-27

I came across this book while browsing through the military thriller category on Audible. I'd never heard of the author and seen no other advertisements for the book. The fact that Scott Brick narrated it was a plus, as I had already found myself a fan after his performances of some of Gregg Hurwitz's works. The synopsis of an undersea mystery and communications with dolphins peaked my interest and I dove right in.

Overall, it rather enjoyable. Michael C. Grumley writes quite well, portraying scenes and characters compellingly. I have zero complaints about the prose or how he plots the book. I cared about what happened to the characters, how they felt, and sympathized with their goals. The scenes and action were absorbing to the point where I had to pull myself out in order to focus on the road while driving.

Other than some quibbles and doubts about some explanations regarding evolution, I have few complaints. One is that some of the drama seems to have been generated by oddly ignored opportunities to communicate. It may be that protocol made these opportunities impossible, but it still seems to me that some characters kept quiet when they should not have. The other problem is the one-dimensional antagonist. It appeared as if a deeper mystery were involved in his motivations, but nothing was ever ultimately revealed. This left him less compelling, in the end, even as I revelled in his fall.

None of the complaints I had diminished my enjoyment of the book. I'd certainly recommend it and I will explore the author's other works, too.

Clarifying a misused term

Au global
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Histoire
5 out of 5 stars

Évalué le: 2019-04-19

The word "fascist" has been applied liberally to a great deal of people and, perhaps more often then not, erroneously. Paxton reveals that the criteria for the label are rather nuanced. He states that only two regimes during WW2 were legitimately fascist: the German Nazis and Mussolini's Italy. Others frequently called fascist were generally just some form of totalitarian governments. This is not to say that there had not been fascist movements outside of those two countries, but only in those did fascism actually gain governmental power. Similarly, this is not to say that there are no active fascist movements today. As of the writing of the book, however, Paxton does not believe that any have taken government power.

I would seriously recommend this book to anyone who has ever applied the term to another group or individual. One might disagree with Paxton's definition, but one must take care to not disagree for the sake of making the definition fit a particular target. While modern forms of fascism may take a different form than the Nazis, there are certain attributes that must apply for the word to be used meaningfully.

Hard military science-fiction

Au global
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Histoire
5 out of 5 stars

Évalué le: 2019-04-06

I wasn't terribly impressed by the narrator, partly due to what is to my ears an odd cadence to his voice, but he does a competent job. The writing, though not spectacular, is similarly competent, but the technical and procedural details were quite wonderful -- aided by the author's two physics degrees and around 2 decades in the US Navy. The latter is demonstrated most clearly in the second chapter with a great depiction of a near future naval engagement.

After having just finished reading some disappointing "pop" sci-fi, I was eager to read something more thoughtful and carefully written. Too often, authors rely on creating drama and heroics via the incompetence of the protagonists or their adversaries. This sort of contrivance often has the effect of inducing me to vocally rage at my car stereo as I listen to the books during my daily commutes. While I recognise that sometimes people do stupid things, it has to sit properly within the context of character and plot. It cannot be used to contrive a way for the plot to progress. A Sword Into Darkness doesn't rely on any of this. Characters are developed quite well with their own strengths and limitations, none of which being hyperbolic, and their behaviour follows logically from these traits.

The starship depicted in the latter parts of the book, the Sword of Liberty, is very carefully designed. Its weaknesses are the result of necessary facts of physics and aren't contrived to create drama. I really liked such details as the crew being fitted in vacuum suits and individually cocooned in armoured acceleration couches during combat. The author really tries to envision how space combat would really work, rather than writing it as an analogue of modern (or more commonly, WW2-era) air-naval combat. It's not Star Wars.

One other aspect that must necessarily be addressed in any plot involving alien visitations or invasions is: why do the aliens bother coming at all? I certainly won't spoil the plot, but I will say that the answer provided for this book is unique. It's weird, but... well, aliens, eh?

Highly recommended, if you're into the hard stuff.

A mixed bag

Au global
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Histoire
2 out of 5 stars

Évalué le: 2019-04-01

I really enjoy much of the Legion action, but far too much of the plot and other action relies on drama and heroics enabled by incompetence and carelessness by the other side.

The fleet action in the latter half is especially bad. The many single points of failure that systems on the ships and in the fleets have are unacceptable. The entire command deck of a giant battleship sitting exposed on the exterior of the ship? External power generators for shields? Fire control cupolas? Practically no redundancy? All of these things go against common sense.

There are also very heavy and obvious nods to Star Wars, which I found rather cheap and overabundant.

None of the positives leave me wanting to continue with the series. The frustration I felt listening to it simply isn't worth it.

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Deus Ex machina

Au global
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Histoire
1 out of 5 stars

Évalué le: 2019-03-17

I was really getting into the book for most of the beginning. There was some nitpicking to be done, such as when rifle magazines were referred to as clips. Especially for a military sub-genre, this was irritating. However, the plot was going rather well and I was really getting into the revelations about the various aliens and the war.

Then it all fell apart. The way the author goes so far out of his way to make the "bad guy" aliens utterly irredeemable was outright comical. I might have been okay with that, but then the deus ex machina appears and my enjoyment was limited to only a few more segments. I'm just not a fan of introducing such a powerful force as a primary character. Because of it, I have no interest in reading further entries into this series.