Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Ghost Brigades by john Scalzi

The Ghost Brigade coverI first listened to “Old Man’s War” a few months ago on the two-day drive moving from Mississippi to Maryland. I absolutely loved the book and when I found out that it was a series, I was ecstatic.  I eagerly picked up book two- “The Ghost Brigades” as soon as I got a chance.

This book is narrated by William Dufris, who narrated the previous book. His voice is one that never bothers me or make a me excited when I hear him read. He doesn’t add to the story but he doesn’t commit the unpardonable sin of distracting from it either. That makes him a good narrator in my book.  He plays all the ranges of characters very well.

As for the story, John Scalzi did an adequate job, but the second book letdown now seems unavoidable.  There was something special about exploring the fantastic world Scalzi created in the first book that is missing in the second

The Ghost Brigades” revolves around Jared Dirac who is clone of the traitor Charles Boutin. Jared Dirac was created as a ghost brigade altered clone to attempt to recover the memories of Boutin and discover the catalyst for his betrayal.

John Scalzi did start to explore more of the odder genetic variations of ghost brigade members. He also began delving into some of the relationships among the alien races. Those parts provided a flicker of the old excitement, but were not enough to reignite the enjoyment of the first book.

One thing I was particularly disappointed by was the treatment of Jane’s character.   Although she was an important side character in the first book, it feels like she could have been replaced by any random character in the second.

There were no real surprises in this book. It was not bad, just not as good as the first. It really felt like a set up for the next book “The Last Colony,” which I am planning to read in the next few weeks. I will let you know what I think.

Overall 6 of 10
Narration 7 of 10
Story 6.5 of 10

My next book for tomorrow is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel by Robin Sloan

Ender’s Game Alive by Orson Scott Card

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I fell in love with original book right after the 20th Anniversary Edition version was released. It was one of the first books I ever listened to that had multiple narrators without sounding too hokey. So, when I heard that Skyboat Media was doing an audioplay version, I was excited. If anyone can make it not so hokey, it’s them.

In the 20th Anniversary Edition each chapter got its own narrator and that person and did all the voices in the chapter with the exception of the lead into a chapter. So, an Ender-centric chapter would have a male narrator doing Valentine, Ender and anyone else in the chapter. But, a Valentine-centric chapter would have a female narrator doing all the voices.  This really helped the flow of the story let you focus on characters.

But in the Ender’s Game Alive version they have more of a radio play aspect. So, you have chapters with multiple narrators. Now, I don’t think this would have been bad except for the over acting. It was almost like they were trying for a 1930s radio play.  There were also a lot of pauses with just sound effects filling the silence, such as foot steps. That would not have been a problem but I felt it happened too often in a book that was this cut down. This “audioplay” is only 7 hours and 24 mins to the 20th Anniversary Edition’s 11 hours and 57 mins.

And here lies the real problem with Ender’s Game Alive – they cut too much out. I can live with the Telenovela style of acting and the sound effects, but they cut four and half hours of story out. I am not sure if I could have even followed it if I had not listened to the original. All the subtlety of characters that made you love them was gone. I am not sure if this was a choice Orson Scott Card made to make the book more accessible to people by making it shorter. If it was, I don’t see the point. If you are willing to invest 7.5 hours, it’s not that much more of leap to invest 12 hours of your time in a book. Maybe it was cut down to more closely match the movie.  No matter the reason, it’s the fans and, more importantly, the first time readers to the Enderverse that are suffering.

I desperately wanted to love this version of Ender’s Game, but it fell flat. This is the second time in two Ender books that I have felt burned by Orson Scott Card.  Shadows in Flight felt hacked together and too short, like I was listening to the abridged version.

Overall 4.5 of 10
Narration 5 of 10
Story 4 of 10

You can by stream this book free at Io9 or you can by it at Audibe