Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Scalzi turns a bad smell into a breath of fresh air - Audiobook, 22 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Agent to the Stars (Unabridged) (Audio Download)
John Scalzi's debut was his first foray into novel writing, originally posted free on his website as an e-book. With this conservative approach he has proven to be that rare combination of being a master at his craft, without the hubris that invariably accompanies it. His ability to write across genres, from sci-fi to personal finance to astronomy, while keeping the tone at once humorous, perceptive and scathing (in the nicest way), made Agent to the Stars an extremely enjoyable light read. It is not literature - it's too silly for that - but then it's not trying to be.

Wil Wheaton, the perfect foil to convey the borderline hysteria that fuels the Hollywood machine, narrates the audiobook. Apparently Wil has narrated other Scalzi books and I would recommend trying out audio versions.

Science fiction rarely features in my catholic reading choices, but glowing reviews motivated me to try it out. If you are like-minded, I encourage you to sample this gem, which entertained me on a long flight. This is sci-fi lite, focusing more on the entertainment industry.

There are enough other commentaries outlining plot and personalities. I echo their opinions of John Scalzi's breezy, effortless style. He doesn't preach - his injection of social commentary and opinion is decidedly palatable. The super-intelligent Yherajk, stuck in their time warp mannerisms, acquired via old sit-coms, epitomize the cheesy 50s and 60s first contact movies. Malodorous they may be, but refreshing nonetheless.

There are only two areas of criticism that I would level, if I am to be picky. The first is that everyone, including the aliens, has a similar turn of phrase and wry humor, despite a generation dividing their vernacular. The characters are rendered monochromatic and superficial.

The other is the unnecessarily repetitive "he said/she said" appended at the end of almost every sentence. With a competent narrator (such as Wil), one has the advantage of different accents or cadence to identify the characters. However, regardless of the format, if one is even halfway paying attention to the thread of dialog, it is easy to work out who is having a conversation. Trimming the excessively irritating "he said/she said" and creating discrete personalities would have elevated this to a 5* review.
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4.5 out of 5 stars (10 customer reviews)
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Location: South Africa

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