Audiobook Review: Change Agent by Daniel Suarez

10 04 2017


Change Agent by Daniel Suarez

Read by Jeff Gurner

Penguin Audio

Grade: B+
So, let me give you the synopsis to every Daniel Suarez novel…
HEY GUYS! There’s this crazy new technology! It’s so cool.
Oh, here’s how it’s gonna alter everything you take for granted and probably kill you. 
Poor main character! He’s sucked into something nobody could prepare for.
CRAZY CHASE SCENE! CRAZY CHASE SCENE! 
BANG!
WHIZ!
REALLY BAD GUYS DOING BAD THINGS! HERO DOESN’T KNOW WHO TO TRUST LOOKS FOR UNCONVENTIONAL HELP! BETRAYAL! INTRIGUE!
BIG EXPLOSION!
CRAZY CHASE SCENE!
EPIC SHOWDOWN! 
WORLD CHANGED FOREVER! 
Suarez’ latest continues his trend of causing more arrhythmia’s than a Five Guys Double Bacon Cheeseburger with all those extra fries in the bottom of the bad. It makes the Fast and the Furious franchise feel like an EB White novel. Sometimes, the craziness can be overwhelming, and it takes a bit of adjustment to settle into his near future world but once you settle in you just gotta hold on to the handrails until the ride comes to a complete stop. 
Jeff Gurner must have been genetically altered with larger lung capacity because there’s huge sections of the novel where I’m not sure he ever got a chance to take a breath. Add to that the international locales and ethnically (and biogenetically) diverse cast and Gurner should get hazard pay for this novel, but, as usual, he performed the hell out of it. Suarez pushes the boundaries of what you expect a technothriller to be, and with Jeff Gurner and plenty of oxygen to prevent breathlessness, Audio is the way to experience it. 





Audiobook Review: Influx by Daniel Suarez

24 02 2014

Influx by Daniel Suarez

Read by Jeff Gurner

Penguin Audio

Length: 13 Hrs 45 Min

Genro: Technothriller

Grade: A-

Influx, the latest by the true king of the near future technothriller, is a nano-infused balls to the wall thriller that will spin your genetically enhanced brain while causing your artificial cyber heart to beat a kilometer a minute keeping the tension building like a fusion powered perpetual motion machine. Basically, take all the future tech you think we should have had by now, mix it together with some well realized characters, add in some complicated social issues, throw in a heavy dash of awesome, and you have Influx. Yeah, I kinda dug this one. The Bureau of Technology Control was founded with the goal to regulate potentially disruptive technology. Yet, when physicist Jon Grady invents functional antigravity, he finds the BTC’s power has been corrupted and it’s power hungry director hording technology for his personal gain instead of the good of humanity. Grady refuses to play along, and is locked up in a top secret prison along with other rebellious genius. Probably not the smartest plan. Suarez’s techno vision and his rock and roll pacing is the perfect blend to drive this compelling story along. While the plot borders on over the top, it’s a gleefully awesome form of excess that should delight anyone who is still waiting for the rocket packs and hovercrafts promised to them as children. Even better, Suarez adds in a fresh dose of social sciences, examining the impact that technology has on society. If I have any complaint, it’s that at times the technology overshadows the characters, but with tech this cool, you can’t really fault the author too much for that. While it may be too soon to declare any book the techno-thriller of the year, Influx has thrown its hat into the ring as an early contender, and it’s gonna take something special to knock it off it’s perch.

I always have mixed feeling when an author has a go to narrator who narrates all their books, particularly their standalones. I understand you may be a huge fan of a specific narrator, but it doesn’t mean they are right for every one of your books. Luckily for us readers, the pairing of Daniel Suarez and Jeff Gurner is a match made in Talky Book Heaven. Gurner has a very professional, almost Movie Trailer voice, with enough range to give his narrations the right amount of edge. His range of voices is solid, giving each character a distinctive feel. Yet, the true beauty of his narration is his pacing. Suarez writes at a kinetic pace, and it would be very easy for a narrator to get overwhelmed by it, but Gurner never does. He propels the book along with just the right amount of energy, yet with enough control to pull back when needed. It’s a performance that will keep you on the edge of you anti-gravity platform, utterly engrossed in every moment.

Thanks to Penguin Audio for proving me with a copy of this title for review.





Audiobook Review: Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez

31 07 2012

Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez

Read by Jeff Gurner

Penguin Audio

Length: 13 Hrs 6 Min

Genre: Techno-Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Kill Decision is a fast paced, explody orgiastic techno adventure full of over the top action, colorful characters and a twisty conspiracy laden plot that will keep the reader’s head spinning. Suarez takes current technology and pushes it out to frightening extremes, which gives the sometimes outrageous plot just enough validity to make you uncomfortable. Kill Decision is the ultimate summer read, an exciting thriller that feels like a big budget action movie for your brain.

Grade: B+

As if there aren’t enough things that will one day kill me, Daniel Suarez has to add a new one to the list. Sometimes, I feel there is this evil cabal of genre authors who sit around in the mysterious smoky castle, or perhaps a local coffee shop, with the sole purpose of thinking up new monsters, technology or diseases that may very well end my existence. I have become used to the idea that someday a zombie may feast on my delicious brain, or the government which we all have such faith in will release a killer plague wiping out over 99% of the population. I can deal with a Robopocalypse or Emo-Vampires sucking my blood and forcing me to listen to Death Cab for Cuties until my ears bleed and my brain hemorrhages. Yet, now I can’t even walk my dog or orchestrate a global conspiracy to destabilize the European Futures market without worrying about whether or not some unmanned drones programmed to emulate warlike soldier ants will swoop down and kill me. I mean, sure, robots may rise and destroy humanity, and even the smart Artificial intelligent houses of the future may take us captive and enslave us to their will, but at least these were things I could see happening in the future, when I am old and have finally seen all 10 of The Hobbit movies. Yet, Suarez’s killer drones are topical and current and may be circling over my tin foil lined brain as we speak.

In Kill Decision, the latest techno-thriller by Daniel Suarez, Odin, the head of a top secret military Special Ops team, is tasked with finding the truth behind a series of unmanned drone attacks on the United States. When the shadowy group behind the drones targets Linda McKinney, a scientist studying the behavior of Weaver Ants, Odin must find out why she was targeted, and what the implications are for the world, and the way we fight wars. Kill Decision is a fast paced, explody orgiastic techno adventure full of over the top action, colorful characters and a twisty conspiracy laden plot that will keep the reader’s head spinning. Suarez takes current technology and pushes it out to frightening extremes, which gives the sometimes outrageous plot just enough validity to make you uncomfortable. On top of the crazy, breakneck plotting, Suarez fills out the tale with plenty of quirky characters, developed well enough to make you fear for their safety when the danger comes. Oh, and the danger comes, at time relentlessly and without mercy. Kill Decision wasn’t problem free. At times, the plot truly pushes the boundaries of credulity, but in fun exciting ways. You are having so much fun while experiencing Kill Decision that you are willing to let a few inconsistencies slip past. My major issue with the book was in the character of Linda McKinney. I liked her. She had a kick butt nature, and was the heart of the story. She also was infuriating at times. There were points where Suarez turned her into a shrieking liberal. Now, I had no problem with the politics in the story, either the author’s or the characters. I didn’t feel there was any pressing agenda. What I didn’t like was the fact that her political arguments with Odin transferred her from a well developed strong female lead to a caricature. There was also a bit of naiveté to the character that I felt was placed there more to serve the plot than a true reflection of the character as I had visualized her. Yet, this one issue wasn’t enough to derail an otherwise entertaining novel.  Kill Decision is one of those novels that makes you want to pull out all the well worn reviewing clichés, using terms like rollicking fun, thrills and spills and rollercoaster ride. Kill Decision is the ultimate summer read, an exciting thriller that feels like a big budget action movie for your brain.

Jeff Gurner gives an excellent performance in his reading of Kill Decision. Gurner read Suarez’s previous thrillers Daemon and Freedom TM, and was ready for the fast paced, non stop action of Kill Decision. Gurner does a solid job with the characterizations but his true talent is pacing the many action scenes in just the right way. When listening to an audiobook, action can sometimes get muddled if the pacing is off, but in Kill Decision this was never a problem. Gurner’s reading allowed the listener to easily visualize the complex action scenes. Now, like The Daemon novels, Penguin used some strange FX’s for the chapter breaks. These didn’t really interfere with the overall tale, but they were sort of weird here. It was supposed to have an almost robotic sound, but it in fact sounded a bit like someone hocking something up. This doesn’t in anyway affect the production, I just thought it was sort of strange, and thus worth mentioning. Kill Decision was another excellent pairing of Suarez and Gurner, and the thriller to watch out for this summer.