Audiobook Review: The Shimmer by David Morrell

16 09 2011

The Shimmer by David Morrell

Read by Phil Gigante

Brilliance Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 30 Mins

Genre: Thriller

Quick Thoughts: While full of interesting ideas the plot is a bit scattershot and the questions mostly remain unanswered. Fans of Dean Koontz may fine more to like than most, as the book is reminiscent of some of his works in the 80’s. Phil Gigante does a good job as narrator, without too much to work with.

Grade: C+

There are a lot of authors out there, that I have heard of, are somewhat interested in, yet for some reason never read or listened to any of their work. Until recently David Morrell was one of them. Before downloading the audiobook version of Morrell’s novel The Shimmer, I thought of his simply as "that guy who wrote Rambo." Occasionally I would see something he wrote, and look into it, and it would seem interesting, but other books would just get in the way. Morrell seems to be one of those hard to define authors who write mostly thrillers, but the thrillers fall into many different subgenres. He doesn’t have a long running series that readers know him for, and because of that, at least for me, he sort of fell in the cracks. In fact, the major reason I even discovered The Shimmer, and become intrigued was because I was searching Overdrive for novels narrated by Phil Gigante. Then checking out the publisher summary, I became intrigued. The Shimmer is about a small Texas town that has a strange phenomena called "The Rostov Lights>" Basically, it’s a series of lights that show up at night time. Not everyone can see them. They draw people from across the country. Despite there being no explanation for the lights they have an effect on the people who witness them, some for good, dome for bad. Now, this plot sort of reminded me of something that Dean Koontz would have written back in the 80’s, when I was a teenager, and he was my favorite writer. So, I decided to check it out.

Like the author, The Shimmer is a hard book to pin down. I enjoyed most of it. The characters were fun and interesting, if not a bit on the shallow side. The set up is well done, enough to get me intrigued in what exactly happened. Morrell puts a lot of detail into the town of Roslov, and the history of the lights. He also adds a bit of a look at the history of WMD’s in America. Yet, all this together made the novel have an almost scattershot feel. When you began to become interested in characters, the book would shoot away from them in an unexpected path. Morrell would spend a lot of time building up a subplot, like the military operation to see if the lights could be used as a weapon, yet these subplots really never amount to much. In fact, the only true driving force of the book was the chaos that the lights caused on the small town, by affecting the behavior of those viewing the lights. Yet, even that part of the story seemed out of place at times, causing plot holes big enough to drive a truck through. Yet, with all the problems I had with the book, I have to say I was entertained. If you are willing to take on a book with some interesting characters, lots of action, some intriguing subplots, and tons of unanswered questions, then take a chance on The Shimmer.

Phil Gigante is one of my favorite narrators, and he does a good job here, despite the fact that there really isn’t much to work with. I love Gigante’s ability to bring authenticity to the interplay between characters, and for brief moments he does that here, but there just wasn’t that great moment of dialogue that he does so well. I think The Shimmer works best as a book of interesting ideas, and there is only so much a narrator can do with such a book. I do have to say that there was some long action sequences that Gigante kept me interested in, that I may otherwise have drifted off during, and what more can you ask of a narrator. All in all, I get the feeling that The Shimmer is not a typical Morrell novel. Fans of books like Strangers by Dean Koontz may enjoy the style the Morrell uses here, but for the most part, this audiobook serves best as filler material for those looking for a quick easy listen.




One response

21 09 2011
John @

Interesting. The comparison to Strangers may scare me off of this one. I remember reading that book and struggling to keep up with all of the tangled plot lines and perspectives.

The only David Morrell books that I have read are Creepers and Scavengers. I actually really enjoyed both of those. Haven’t experienced the audio versions so I can’t speak to the narration but the story was fun.

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