Bob’s Audiobook Report: January Week 2

13 01 2014

Week two of 2014 saw me completing 4 Audiobooks, two from the same series, and two of series that have been sitting on my TBL Pile for a while. Since I have a lot of stuff coming up in January, a move at the end of the month, surgery this week, as well as plenty of other stressors, I have been looking for lighter, more straightforward stories that are easy to focus on. This is why I have been choosing mostly action based series with well drawn characters, because during times like this, I have trouble focusing on highly conceptual plots and esoteric storylines. I like monsters and explosions and aliens and my choices all pretty much hit the mark.

Conspiracies by F. Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack, Book 3)

Read by Christopher Price

Brilliance Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 28 Min

Genre: Suspense Thriller

Grade: B+

All The Rage by F. Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack, Book 4)

Read by Christopher Price

Brilliance Audio

Length: 13 Hrs 17 Min

Genre: Suspense Thriller

Grade: B+

I completed two of F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack novels, COMSPIRACIES and ALL THE RAGE. In the beginning of long running series, especially those with a supernatural edge, I always enjoy watching the development of the series mythology. I feel both of these book are important to building the Repairman Jack Mythos, while still pretty much self contained stories. Both were a lot of fun, each giving more incite into Jack, while continuing the frustrating interpersonal conflict between Jack’s desire to be a part of his girlfriend Gia and her daughter’s life, while knowing that he also lives on the edge of society and must feed his need for adventure and violence. I am still less than thrilled with Christopher Price’s narration, especially in comparison to the other narrators in the series. I think his voice is too deep for the character, and while his vocal range is admirable, I don’t thing he ever nails the characters. They always feel just a tad off of what they should be, like listening to a celebrity impersonator, just after listening to the real thing.

Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell

Read by Kirby Heyborne

Blackstone Audio

Length: 15 Hrs 36 Min

Genre: Post Apocalyptic/Alien Invasion

Grade: B+

Midnight City has been languishing on my mountainous TBL pile for a long time, and with the recent release of the second book in the series, I thought I had to give it a go. Midnight City has a War of the Worlds meets Chtorr feel. A classic Alien Invasion vibe with an esoteric spin and a touch of magic. While marketed as a Young Adult novel, it definitely has a more mature vibe that should fit a large range of readers. It did take me a while to get into the book. Mitchell doesn’t ease you into his world, but throws you right into the deep end, and it takes some time to adjust. But when the book gets moving, it gets bad ass moving, with now stop action in a fascinating apocalyptic setting. Kirby Heyborne’s excellent performance shouldn’t be a surprise to any audiobook fan. His reading is crisp and professional, with just the right amount of edge.  

Semper Mars (Book 1 of The Heritage Trilogy) by Ian Douglas

Read by Ray Chase

Audible Frontiers

Length: 13 Hrs 46 Min

Genre: Military Science Fiction

Grade: B+

Military Science Fiction is one of my go to genres when I find myself in a reading slump and just want something fun, fast and furious. MilSF has a way of making fascinating concepts accessible and throwing in lots of pyrotechnics for effect. Yet, not all MilSF hits the spot. My first attempt at a Ian Douglas novel failed miserably. Didn’t like it at all. Yet, the concepts around The Heritage Trilogy seemed fascinating, and I had been looking for more stuff performed by narrator Ray Chase. Semper Mars is jingoistic, HOORAH! near future MilSF at it’s best. Full of lots of Marine history, potential alien tech, World War between the ol’ US of A, and those pesky univeralist United Nations. and clever battles, Semper Mars was just the right listen for my mood. Ray Chase continues to impress. While I think he’s a better 1st person narrator than a 3rd person, his voice is pleasant, and he brings the characters alive. He never hampers the relentless pace of the narrative, and at times can be just as clever with his delivery as a marine with a beer bomb.

Coming Soon: Well, this week I have surgery, so I’m not sure how it will affect my listening. I plan on continuing listening to Repairman Jack, and The heritage Trilogy (currently listening to book 2). I also plan on listening to a book called Noise by Darin Bradley read by Chris Patton. Plan on a bit more print reading this week during my time off.





Audiobook Review: 21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology edited by Christopher Golden

6 05 2013

Zombob2ZAM

2013 Zombie Awareness Month

21st Century Dead edited by Christopher Golden (Check out the Full Story Listing After the Review)

Read by Scott Brick, Cassandra Campbell, Bernadette Dunne, Paul Michael Garcia, Kirby Heyborne, Malcolm Hillgartner, Chris Patton, John Pruden, Renée Raudman, Stefan Rudnicki, Sean Runnette, Simon Vance, and Tom Weiner

Blackstone Audio

Length: 12 Hrs 40 Min

Genre: Zombie Anthology

Quick Thoughts: 21st Century Dead is a zombie anthology full of wonderful, bizarre and diverse stories involving zombies and other iterations of the undead in such variety it would make both Baskin and Robbins jealous. Some of the top tales come from new to me authors like Mark Morris and Amber Benson with a special shout out to Chelsea Cain. If you are looking for a wide variety of unique tales about zombies of all shapes, colors and tastes, 21st Century Dead is a worthwhile buffet of zombie shorts

Grade: B+

So, I was thinking about a good way to explain an excellent and diverse Zombie anthology, because I know the concept is so complex that it needs explaining, and the phrase that popped into my head was “Zombie Smorgasbord.” Oh, boy. When I was in high school, back in what some people refer to as “the 90’s” or what many of my fellow bloggers may call “before I was born” I worked for a now defunct Buffet restaurant. I started as a dishwasher, worked my way up to pots and eventually became a skilled line cook. I never made it out of the kitchen of course because, as my boss at the time explained it, “You have a face for back of the kitchen work.” Back then, I really wasn’t that into Zombie lit. It would be about another 12 years until I read Brian Keene’s The Rising and became a huge Zombie fan. Yet, it was about the time I was working my way through The Stand, and Swan Song for like the third time each, and I totally thought that working at this Buffet would give me a leg up when it came time to load up on supplies for that cross country apocalyptic road trip. So, where was I… oh yeah…? Zombie Smorgasbord. So, when this phrase popped into my mind, so too did wonderful variety of images. I pictured a bunch of Zombies shuffling past a serving table full of entrails, brains and a variety of limbs. I see a plainly decorated establishment where a zombie works the carving station, carving [insert grotesque image here]. I see stalls full of zombies available for the choosing, carefully managed by the FIFO system where the nastiest maggot infested zombies are at the front and the fresher, nearly human looking zombies are in the back. You see, this illustrates my point, a good Zombie anthology is full of a variety of awesome and disturbing, but mostly awesomely disturbing stories for our twisted flavorful brains.

21st Century Dead is a zombie anthology edited by Christopher Golden full of wonderful, bizarre and diverse stories involving zombies and other iterations of the undead in such variety it would make both Baskin and Robbins jealous. This anthology is packed full of some of my favorite authors including Brian Keene, Jonathon Maberry and Thomas E. Sniegoski, some authors I have always wanted to read including SG Browne, Amber Benson and Duane Swierczynski and new to me authors that I must now check out like Ken Bruen, Mark Morris and Stephen Susco. So, now onto the stories. The anthology started out with an intriguing tale of a society adapting to a world with zombies called Biters by Mark Morris. It was a wonderful start to the anthology and put me in the right mind. Then it hit me in the head with a creepy and a bit sardonic poem by Chelsea Cain which, along with the performance of the narrator Cassandra Campbell was one of the highlights of this audiobook. Since there were about 20 tales in all, I won’t mention them all, but for there’s something here from all zombie fans. There are more traditional Zombie Outbreak tales like Jack and Jill by Jonathan Maberry, Couch Potato by Brian Keene and The Dead of Dromore by Ken Bruen, some interesting twists on the undead like Devil Dust by Caitlin Kittredge, Ghost Dog & Pup: Stay by Thomas E. Sniegoski and Tender as Teeth by Stephanie Crawford and Duane Swierczynsk, and some really bizarre tales like The Drop by Stephen Susco, Antiparallelogram by Amber Benson and Carousel by Orson Scott Card.  Sadly, not all the tales were winners. Two of bigger draws for this anthology, Kirt Sutter and Daniel H. Wilson were a bit of a disappointment. I thought Sutter’s tale was simply bizarre, and not in a good way, and while Wilson’s tale, which takes place in the world he created in Robopocalypse, started off well, it lost its way. Yet, most of these tales were a lot of fun. If you are looking for a wide variety of unique tales about zombies of all shapes, colors and tastes, 21st Century Dead is a worthwhile buffet of zombie shorts.

Like the author list, 21st Century Dead was a mix of narrators, many of whom I am familiar with, while others I have wanted to experience for a while. As I said earlier, Cassandra Campbell’s reading of “Why Mothers Let Their Babies Watch Television: A Just-So Horror Story” was delightful and my favorite moment along the way. Scott Brick’s reading of The Drop creeped me out, making a strange story just a bit stranger. It was nice to once again listen to Tom Weiner read a Jonathan Maberry tale. Really, this anthology was just full of excellent performances, including tales read by Chris Patton, Bernadette Dunne, Simon Vance and Paul Michael Garcia. It was a little interesting to hear Sean Runnette reading a non-Tufo Zombie tale, but the story was perfect for his sense of humor. The biggest kudos for this production must go to whoever cast the audiobook. Blackstone did an excellent job placing just the right narrator with the right story.

FULL STORY LISTING

Zombies are good for you: an introduction by Christopher Golden
Biters by Mark Morris
Why mothers let their babies watch television : a just-so horror story by Chelsea Cain
Carousel by Orson Scott Card
Reality bites by S.G. Browne
Drop by Stephen Susco
Antiparallelogram by Amber Benson
How we escaped our certain fate by Dan Chaon
Mother’s love by John McIlveen
Down and out in dead town by Simon R. Green
Devil dust by Caitlin Kittredge
Dead of Dromore by Ken Bruen
All the comforts of home : a beacon story by John Skipp, Cody Goodfellow
Ghost dog & pup : stay by Thomas E. Sniegoski
Tic boom : a slice of love by Kurt Sutter
Jack and Jill by Jonathan Maberry
Tender as teeth by Stephanie Crawford, Duane Swierczynski
Couch potato by Brian Keene
Happy bird and other tales by Rio Youers
Parasite by Daniel H. Wilson

Note: Special Thanks to Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.





Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: A Spoilery Guide to My Experience of this Audiobook with Bobmoticons

2 08 2012

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Read by Kirby Heyborne and Julia Whelan

Random House Audio

Length: 19 Hrs 11 Min

Genre: Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Gone Girl is more than just a thriller. It is a extremely well plotted, intricately told tale whose whole purpose is to make your mind explode, leaving chunks of gray matter congealing on the floor for some forensic guy to scoop up. It’s a literary assault on your brain, and Gillian Flynn should, at the very least, be brought in for questioning.

Grade: A

First off, I want to say, if you have yet to read Gone Girl. DON"T READ THIS REVIEW! I know, I know, "But, Bob, it’s a review. How will we know if we want to listen to this tale?" Well, first off, you do. Listen to it. Enjoy. Have your mind blown or if you are a thriller loving know-it-all curmudgeon, at least glow in the appreciation of what Gillian Flynn accomplishes with this novel. Now, if your thinking, "But, Bob. I want the reading experience to be spoiled. I actually arrived here looking for spoilers." Well, you’re dead to me. Why search out spoilers. Do you also search out head trauma and Lyme Disease carrying ticks, because they also suck the fun out of life? In reality, this isn’t really a review, but more of a tongue-in-cheek recounting of my experience with Gone Girl. Plus, it contains images of my face. (Not pleasant) Really, unless you have already experienced this novel, don’t read this review. Go read Gone Girl, and then come back. I think you will appreciate it.

If you are looking for good, solid non-spoilery reviews, I endorse these:

Jenn’s Bookshelves

That’s What She Read

Jenn’s Book Thoughts

***CONTAINS SPOILERS AND MY FACE: PROCEDE WITH CAUTION***

Bob Reluntant

I have to say, I was sort of hesitant to start Gone Girl. It received a lot of praise from people I respected, had two excellent narrators and the hype about the jaw dropping, gut punch twist could not be ignored. Yet, for some reason it sat on my MP3 Player for a few weeks, and continued to get pushed back by other titles. I think part of the problem was the hype. I hate learning ahead of time that there even is A BIG TWIST!!!!! I like going into things cold, and I was hesitant, because I knew I would spend much of the audiobook waiting for THE BIG TWIST and trying to figure it out, instead of just enjoying the tale.

creeped Bob

I have to say, at first, I was sort of creeped out. Not by the book, or the characters, but by one of the narrators, Kirby Heybourne. Now, Heybourne is a great narrator, but the last title I listened to him narrate was Dan Well’s I Don’t Want to Kill You, and his reading of that novel gave me chills, and beginning Gone Girl, I began to have flashback chills. Luckily, I can report, both Heybourne and Whelan were brilliant. Like, perfect for the role, should be nominated for Audies, pat on their backs brilliant.

So I started Gone Girl and was instantly drawn in. One of the beautiful things about this novel is there is a weird balance between the recognizable and the bizarre. You recognize the situation almost instantly. It’s the whole, “wife goes missing, the husband probably did it” scenario. Yet, Flynn tells this story from the perspective of two of the most unreliable narrators ever. Flynn’s tale start with Nick, the aforementioned husband, as he discovers his wife is missing, and gradually discovers he is the suspect. Then, you meet Amy, the missing wife, who details the story of Nick and Amy, from their fist meeting until her eventual disappeared. Yet, there is just and utter feeling of wrongness. While the two competing stories are plausible, and well realized, they just don’t fit together right. There are inconsistencies, secrets, and such a difference in tone between the two tales that you never feel comfortable. Yet, I was completely sucked in and enjoying every bit of it. 

Come on

Yet, there is a point, about nine to ten hours into the audiobook where I begin to feel a bit fatigued. Here again, is the problem knowing about THE BIG TWIST. I heard it was about the halfway point, and by this time, I just want the shoe to drop. I want everything to come together, and either prove my many theories right, or spin my head. Or both. Now, you have to remember, I come into reading this thriller as someone who is as much of a speculative fiction fan as a thriller fan. I have read books where the neighbors turn out to be demon monsters and ones where the love interest is really an android.  I know THE BIG TWIST is coming, and my brain says, “Figure it out Bob.” So, my brain goes wild. Nick is an Alien. It’s all a weird reality show. Amy is a vampire. Soylent Green is People. Bruce Willis is a Ghost. The Rapture!!!!! This is my brain. Fear it.

Then of course, comes THE BIG TWIST.

Relieved

Now, of course, this is supposed to be the big WTF moment, but in reality, I was more relived, if anything. This was the twist I was hoping for. I’m not going to say I figured it out, but it was one that really was on the top of my list. This wasn’t because I am brilliant. I have learned twist lessons from two of my favorite books. First, is from Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent. That is, for a good twist to be effective, all the pieces had to be there for the reader to pick up. Second comes from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and that is, never trust a first person narrator. For me, THE BIG TWIST has all the pieces in place, if you take into account that the voice of Diary Amy just wasn’t right. Flynn had created such a brilliant complex character in Nick, yet Amy came off as almost a caricature. You could chalk this up to self delusion, or bad writing, but I preferred malicious intent. Yet, my mind was totally blown, not by the exact twist, but how well it was executed. Every red herring Flynn put into place was accounted for. While I suspected the base of the twist, the detail and complexity of it was simply amazing.

ashamed

One concerning thing for me was my responses to the characters. I really wanted to like Nick. I wanted him to turn out to not just be innocent, but be a good guy. I think this comes from the fact that I was brought up by a single mother. Despite all the evidence that my father is/was and asshole, I wanted him not to be. I find myself often cheering for the misunderstood male figure in fiction. Also, I personally have been called out for responding to intense situations almost unemotionally, and I could feel for Nick there as well. Yet, as always, I eventually discover that Nick is basically a self centered manchild, and I grew to despise him. Yet, there was a part of me that still longed for his redemption.  When THE BIG TWIST came, I sort of flipped my views on the characters. I really began to like Amy. I was actually impressed with her. She moved from being a caricature, to being funny and perceptive. Her entire monologue of THE COOL GIRL was brilliant. I even didn’t blame her for what she did to Nick. Amy has a line where she tells you she now wants to show you THE REAL AMY before you make any judgments. The problem is, you do get to meet THE REAL AMY. THE REAL AMY is pretentious, self deluded and elitisms, and quickly strips away any of my affinity for her. There is a brilliant scene when she talks about how all she needs to do is mention her lack of money, and she was sure this women would let her stay on for free. She mentioned her lack of money, and the woman suggests she get a job. What is brilliant about this is Amy acts like she never even had the thought. She quickly just readjusts her perception, almost forgetting her expectations. It is self delusion at its grandest. Amy may be the best literary sociopath I have ever read.  Yet, from a guy who finds quirkiness sort of hot, sociopathy is not in the least hot.

creep

Now, you would expect after THE BIG TWIST for the book to sort of wind down. It doesn’t. First, Flynn lets us spend time with one of the most creepy characters ever, in Amy’s ex-boyfriend, and probable stalker. This dude seriously weirder me out. There were so many moments of joyous verisimilitude in this novel. My favorite has to be Diary Amy’s Multiple Choice questions interposed against her being questioned by Detective Boney, with their questions and answers being displayed as A: B:. I was almost expecting the FBI agents to have names that started with C and D. The amount of detail Flynn put into this book was incredible and mind blowing. I really hope she never tries to plan out my murder.

WTF

Finally, The Ending. For me, the ending was the true WTF moment. Nick, holy shit Nick. Really. I mean, come on man. Grrrr… I have no respect for the dude at all, and after the ending, well, I’m not even sure. But, I have to say, I really would have loved to see Amy explain to the cops why she saves vomit in the freezer for so long after she never expected he was trying to poison her. OK I guess she could have said it was fresh, but still. But, really… come on Nick. I just don’t know. The ending did what only the best do. PISS ME OFF. Yet, only sort of. I know there had to be a better way. Really, there did. I just couldn’t figure it out. People, this is why I am still single. Plus, of course, the face. Kinda scary, right?





Seven Questions with Dan Wells

3 10 2011

 

Dan Well’s John Cleaver trilogy is a truly amazing read, and the audiobook version of the finale of the series, I Don’t Want to Kill You has sat high atop my favorite audiobooks of 2011 list for a while. The series is a genre bending psychological thriller with one of the most intriguing main characters I have ever read. Dan Wells was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to answer some of my questions.

 

Bob: First off, I need to reiterate how much I love the entire John Cleaver series. It’s obvious when you read my reviews of Mr. Monster and I Don’t Want to Kill You. Our society seems almost obsessed with Serial Killers, to the point where they have started to become heroes. Yet, John Cleaver is not a Serial Killer. What inspired you to come up with the John Cleaver character, a young boy, struggling with dark urges, yet trying to do the right thing?

Dan: Like all normal, well-adjusted people, I read about serial killers as a hobby. I study them, I research them, and I’ve done so since I was in high school; I just find them fascinating, especially the question of why they do what they do. How can one person contain something so banal and something so evil at the same time? Meanwhile, I’d been writing books for years, mostly epic fantasy because that’s the fiction I tended to read, and I had a great writing group. One night, driving home with my friend Brandon (of Sanderson fame, also a fantasy writer) I was talking all about the Macdonald Triad–three traits in common to the vast majority of serial killers–and Brandon mentioned that that would be a cool first line for a book: "There are three traits in common to 99% of serial killers, and I have all of them." That’s not the first line of the book, obviously, but that’s where the germ of the idea came from. I spent about a year trying to figure out what to do with that character: would the book be funny? Scary? Sad? Something else entirely? At one point I started plotting it out as a sort of new Addams Family, with a family full of creepy murderer archetypes (the son’s a serial killer, the dad’s a grizzled axe murderer, etc.), but eventually I realized that the real core of the idea, what really made it interesting, was the conflict inside of John: everything about him is pushing him toward evil, but he tries to be good instead. That’s what worked, so I threw out everything else and focused on that, and the rest of the books as we know them grew up pretty organically from there.

 
Bob:  One of the things I struggled with when writing my reviews is that this series is very hard to define. It seems to defy easy labels. While it’s about a teenage boy in high school who crushes on the popular girl and has to put up with the school bully, it also has a maturity and a feel that doesn’t fit in well with my concept of what a traditional young adult novel should be. Also, it has elements of horror and mysteries, with a touch of conspiracy thriller and a dash of science fiction. When you set out to write, I Am Not a Serial Killer, did you have a firm idea of the type of book you were after, or was it a matter of plot and characters leading the way?

Dan: The simplest answer to this question is that the only audience I write for is myself: I didn’t think about genre or readership or anything else, I just wrote a book I thought was cool. The main character is a teen because I was telling a story about psychological development, and that’s where it all comes to a head; it has a supernatural monster in it because I like supernatural monsters, and I liked the idea of an inhuman monster who can connect with people better than the very human yet sociopathic narrator. When I looked at the finished product I knew it would be a hard sell precisely because it doesn’t fit into any genre very neatly, and when I sold it to my editor he had a devil of a time trying to pitch it to the rest of the publishing house for precisely that reason.

 
Bob: I think one of the overriding themes of this series is behavior versus temptation. John Cleaver fascinates me, because he has this dark side, an almost classic formula for sociopathic behavior, but he chooses to live by rules that will keep him from embracing that side. Henceforth, despite his urges, he isn’t a serial killer, because he chooses not to be. Do you feel that society’s almost obsessive need to label people can actually push people into antisocial behavior? Was this a theme you deliberately pursued when writing this series?

Dan: I’ve actually been much more conscious about societal labeling after finishing the books than I was before them. There are some fairly big controversies out there right now regarding the definitions of mental illness, and how those definitions are devised and applied and how very subtle changes can drastically alter people’s lives: we actually have a test in the psychological community to help determine sociopathy, and if you fail the test you’re branded a sociopath; in some cases it works really well, and in others it seems to be keeping people in jail who might more productively be set free. Shifting definitions of clinical depression, as another example, can knock people in and out of disability benefits, whether or not their actual ability to hold a job has been changed in any way. These issues fascinate me, and I find myself more and more becoming an activist for some of them, but they weren’t really anywhere in my head while I was writing the books.

On the other hand, the idea of a man trying to be good while his nature pulls him relentlessly in the other direction was a big deal for me while writing, and I actually sat down before writing to brainstorm a series of situations where that conflict could be explored. I tried very hard to avoid moralizing in the series, but if you’ll permit me a bit of it here, I think we have a tendency in our society to avoid blame and responsibility to a dangerous degree. Court cases crop up constantly in which the primary defense is "I couldn’t help myself because of these issues in my past," and while I admit that this is occasionally true, far more often we just need to step up and take responsibility for what we do. John Cleaver is hero because he stops monsters, but the obstacles he has to overcome, and the self control he has to show in order to do it, are far more heroic, and that’s  really what people are responding to.

Bob: Now, of course, on to the audiobooks. I often use I am Not a Serial Killer as an example of how poor narrating casting can almost ruin an audiobook. Luckily, the first book had such an engaging premise and characters, that despite 15 year old John sounding like Robert Stack, I wanted to continue the series. Luckily, Kirby Heybourne took over for Mr. Monster and was simply brilliant. How have you felt about the audio versions of your books, and did you have any interaction with the team at Tantor or the narrator himself along the way?

Dan: I have had literally no interaction with the team that made the books, up until last month when I saw Heyborne on facebook and wrote him a quick letter to thank him for doing such a great job. The first audiobook is bad enough that people keep asking me if Tantor’s going to remake it with Heyborne as the narrator; I doubt it, but it would be awesome if they did.


Bob: You are one of the new generation of writers who has seemed to really embrace the use of social media and your personal blog to reach out to your readers. How do you feel things like Twitter has impacted the publishing industry? How has your online presence influenced you as a writer?

Dan: I got on board with blogging in 2000, when I left college. I’d worked on a student SF magazine and started doing game reviews, and when I graduated I wanted to keep it up but didn’t want the expense of actually publishing something, so I started a site called The Official Time-Waster’s Guide and wrote three or four articles a week about games and gaming. When I finally got published as a novelist, it was easy to make the transition into other kinds of blogging (and I still occasionally review board games, both on my site and on Tor.com). My other significant web presence, perhaps more so than my blog and twitter, is Writing Excuses, a how-to-write podcast that I host with three other writers: Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and recently Mary Robinette Kowal. the podcast has won two Parsecs, been nominated for a Hugo, and has recorded with us and with special writing guests at events all over the continent. I can definitely say that a big chunk of whatever popularity I have comes from the visibility I get from that podcast.

As for how social media has impacted the book industry, I don’t know. In some ways it’s a lot more transparent now, but most of that comes from other forms of online media–corporate websites and industry blogs and so on. What you get from twitter is more personal, like a window into the lives of your favorite authors, and I find that fascinating. I also think that most authors don’t use social media very well. The people I follow on twitter are not the ones who are actively trying to leverage their social media as a promotional tool: those people are boring, and I don’t want to sign up for a voluntary advertisement feed, I want to learn about the people behind the books, and be entertained by them. To borrow my friend’s analogy, imagine that the social media sphere is a giant watercooler, and we’re all hanging out talking to each other. The first guy talks about the game he watched last night, the second guy tells a joke, and the third guy tells you he has merchandise for sale in his cubicle.. Nobody wants to talk to the third guy; most people don’t even want to be around him. The best use for social media is to entertain: to make people laugh and think and talk to each other. If you can do that in 140 characters, you’re advertising your writing ability better than any mercenary post about how awesome your books are.

 
Bob:  If you could choose any author to write The Biography of Dan Wells, who would it be, and who would you like to like to narrate the audio version of the book?

Dan: My biography would be written by Victor Hugo, because I want every scene of my life to be presented in exquisite melodramatic detail. The audio version would be read by the Queen of England, because seriously: the Queen of England. That would be awesome.


Bob: Finally, what upcoming projects are you working on that you are able to talk about? What should Dan Well’s fans be looking for in the future?

Dan: I have a lot going on. Last month I released an ebook called A NIGHT OF BLACKER DARKNESS, and just this week we sold the audio rights to it, which I’m very excited about. In October I have a novella in the MORMONS AND MONSTERS anthology, which is kind of a Robert E. Howard-ish pulp-style adventure anthology, but with Mormons. My story’s about a mormon pioneer who turns into a monster and fights zombies; it’s ridiculous and awesome at the same time. Next year I have two books coming out: a YA dystopia called PARTIALS, coming in late February, and a supernatural thriller called THE HOLLOW CITY, coming in July.

The Audiobook versions of The John Cleaver Trilogy are produced by Tantor Media, and are available for download through Audible.com. The print versions are produced by Tor Books and are available through your local bookseller.

Check out my reviews of Dan Wells Audiobooks:

Mr. Monster

I Don’t Want to Kill You

Reviews of I Am Not a Serial Killer:

Tor.com

Jenn’s Bookshelves





Audiobook Review: I Don’t Want to Kill You by Dan Wells

22 04 2011

I Don’t Want to Kill You by Dan Wells (John Cleaver series, Book 3)

Read by Kirby Heyborne

Tantor Media

Genre: Horror

Quick Thoughts: The best audiobook I have listened to this year.

Grade: A+

I hate Dan Wells. For all of you out there who think I must have made a typo, perhaps meaning to write I ate damp whales or my hat digs wells, I will repeat myself, I Hate Dan Wells. I mean, let’s talk about this jack-ass. He’s like that harmless looking youth that stands on the corner that everyone is always stopping to ask for directions. Then, one day it dawns on you, he’s actually an independent business man who is pushing his product grass roots style. So, always wanting to support the local economy, you try his product. It makes you feel good, so, of course, you want some more. This time, it’s even better. Heck, the use of this product may actually become a life style choice. So it all comes down to that third time, you know, the charm, as they say. If that third time is as good as your first two experiences, you’ll be a fan forever, and this entrepreneur can probably sell you any rot gut, bottom barrel product he has on inventory and you’d kiss him for it. Open mouth, perhaps, even with tongue.  Yet, this urban auteur takes pride in his product, and constantly refines it, makes it better, more mind bending… Sorry, I have digressed, back on track. Oh, I remember, I hate Dan Wells. You see, he could go and write his third book, and give me a pleasant experience like he did with the first two, but no, he has to go and get all “I’m gonna write the shit out of this thing and blow peoples minds.” A**hole.

I enjoyed I Am Not a Serial Killer, despite some issues with the narration. I loved Mr. Monster. Yet, despite my admiration for the first two novels, I was not prepared for how devastatingly affected I would be by I Don’t Want to Kill You, the third and final novel in the John Wayne Cleaver series. In fact, it’s nearly impossible for me to write a true review of this novel, convincingly expressing just how good it is. John Cleaver is not the type of character you would typically expect to become emotionally invested in, a sociopath, who lives almost entirely within his inner dialogue, hiding his true self and projecting a seemingly autistic exterior. Yet, invested you become. And there are no cheap tricks to your attachment, it slowly builds, as the character shifts, and grows, as his world rotates and his risks increase, and before you realize it, you’re hooked into the net. John Cleaver is not the person who we met in the first novel, and throughout this novel, he forces you through his ordeal of self discovery. From his moments of nearly catatonic acceptance to his awkward emotional outbursts, you are there, feeling his instability, living in his crashing world. It’s a hell of a trip, but it doesn’t even begin to prepare you for the end. I cannot even talk about the end. You must experience it yourself. I have listened to 60 books so far this year, including some truly great works of fiction, this was the best. Simply put, the best.

Earlier in the review, I talked about how John Cleaver lived almost entirely within his inner dialogue, well, because of this, the narration of this novel was extremely important for it to work as an audiobook. The narrator had to be able to let the reader know what John was thinking, as opposed to verbalizing, without handy tricks like line breaks or italics. Kirby Heyborne, as the narrator, did an excellent job with this. His use of tone changes and fluxuation in volume allowed us listeners not to get to confused. Heyborne also did a good job modulating his cadence and finding the perfect rhythm for John’s dialogue depending on his mood. Calm John had an almost robotic tone, yet upset John was borderline frantic. If you are willing to take advice from some guy who started a free blog on the internet to post his reviews about audiobooks, well, here it is. Read this series. Before the aliens come. Or the plague. Or economic collapse. Or Glen Beck. Or whatever apocalypse floats your boat. Read/Listen to, e-mind meld with, this series of books.