Review of Metro 2033

SFFaudio Review

metroMetro 2033
By Dmitry Glukhovsky; Performed by Rupert Degas
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 19 November 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 21 hours

Themes: / disaster / nuclear / post-apocalypse / underground tunnels / survival /

Publisher summary:

The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct and the half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boundaries, they say, lie endless burned-out deserts and the remains of splintered forests. Survivors still remember the past greatness of humankind, but the last remains of civilisation have already become a distant memory. Man has handed over stewardship of the Earth to new life-forms. Mutated by radiation, they are better adapted to the new world. A few score thousand survivors live on, not knowing whether they are the only ones left on Earth, living in the Moscow Metro—the biggest air-raid shelter ever built. Stations have become mini-statelets, their people uniting around ideas, religions, water-filters, or the need to repulse enemy incursion. VDNKh is the northernmost inhabited station on its line, one of the Metro’s best stations and secure. But a new and terrible threat has appeared. Artyom, a young man living in VDNKh, is given the task of penetrating to the heart of the Metro to alert everyone to the danger and to get help. He holds the future of his station in his hands, the whole Metro—and maybe the whole of humanity.

Without question, I would recommend this book. I strongly suggest you listen to the audiobook. You might feel a little bummed at the end, but the writing is strong enough to support its fumbled conclusion.

Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Metro 2033, book 1 in the Metro Series, offers an interesting take on the travel/road narrative. Draw your own academic conclusions, but for the most part, humans yet blindly stumble in the dark, face self-inflicted nuclear/biological disaster, and unseen things are hungry. But worry not; man yet possesses fire, fear, weapons, and hatred. What we do not possess appears to be an accurate map, foresight, or the ability to think outside our own skull.

I reveled in the atmosphere. A bunch of people crammed into underground tunnels, forced to keep watch by firelight, eating mushrooms, pork, and rodents, became nearly a corporeal experience. Different metro stations setting up their own community, the need for passports for those wishing to travel between stations, and the various creation/destruction myths surrounding each group, delivers a strong sense of fractured and desperate realism.

The story is okay, but for me, the writing is what shined brightest. The only character I felt remotely invested with was a man named Hunter. The other players in this tale, while multifaceted to a degree, lacked a depth and drive that I feel is paramount for memorable characters worth investing in. I loved the library excursion. So good! Really wished there’d been more story in this setting. The scene with the librarian playing with the flashlight was surprisingly moving.

As the narrator, Rupert Degas is amazing. His rhythm and talents for infusing mood into speech takes flight in this reading. I can’t speak for the accent accuracy, but I can tell you that Degas’s delivery drew me in and made me feel the darkness.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

Review of The Sphinx by Bob Mayer

SFFaudio Review

SphinxThe Sphinx  (Area 51 #4)
By Bob Mayer; Performed by Eric G. Dove
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
11 hours [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: / military sci-fi / aliens / hybrids / nuclear /

Publisher summary:

Dr. Lisa Duncan and Special Forces officer Mike Turcotte know better than anyone that no secret is safe for long — especially one that offers untold power. Case in point: no sooner does Turcotte’s elite Area 51 team uncover a dormant alien ship in earth orbit than a group of alien-human hybrids seizes it and uses its technology to commandeer a satellite array bristling with nuclear missiles. Now they’re demanding that humankind hand over the key to an ancient stash of alien technology…or watch an entire continent be reduced to atomic rubble. Doom seems certain, as the required key is believed lost to the ages — until an unwitting anthropologist discovers the first of many clues to its hiding place. As Duncan and Turcotte race to reach the key — and the powerful treasure it can unlock — ahead of their alien foes, the quest leads them deep into a deadly maze within the Great Sphinx of Giza. The prize? Nothing less than the legendary Ark of the Covenant.

For fans of this series, Bob Mayer delivers a story that lightly scratches the military SF itch but never arrives at satisfaction.  If you don’t mind foreshadowing and rather flat characters that encounter somewhat predictable puzzles, then I think you’ll like this installment of the Area 51 series.  I’d say that Mayer has written the equivalent of a bacon cheeseburger.  You know what you’re going to get before you order it, and if you are in the mood for a run of the mill bacon cheeseburger, then I say “Dig in and don’t be shy about using napkins.”

Eric G. Dove acts as narrator and I am on the fence with his delivery.  So here’s the down and dirty with Dove.  When he reads dialogue, Dove is on top of his game and carries this audio performance.  When Dove is left to recite, I mean read exposition; he becomes the human equivalent of narrator elevator music.  Seriously, Dove reads exposition like most people might read a road map but with less enthusiasm.  But when Dove engages a character, everything changes and this somewhat average audiobook becomes almost enjoyable.

Final thoughts.  If you’re even thinking about reading this book then it’s a fair assumption to think you’ve read the previous books in this series.  If you have and are considering reading on, I encourage you to do so as I think you will be happy.  If you have read the books in the series are aren’t sure if you want to continue, then I say “Turn back when you still can.”

Posted by Casey Hampton.