Monday, September 27, 2010

Beat The Reaper - Josh Bazell

Beat The Reaper
By: Josh Bazell
Published: 2009
Audiobook Read by: Robert Petkoff
My rating: Poor

Well, this was a random selection off the shelf with no prior knowledge of what to expect. It wasn't a bad story but it was so full of foul language and vulgarity that it spoiled it for me.

Over all the character of Peter Brown is interesting but hard to like. He is conceited and vulgar and his attitude towards the world in general is pathetic. Granted, given the awful things he has done and experienced it isn't surprising that he's not very nice but I find it hard to enjoy a book which presents an undesirable person as the leading man! I was sympathetic to a point as the tale of his terrible life unfolded revealing the love found and lost so needlessly. His circumstances leave little room for him to become anything other than what he is, a bitter, ruthless man with a heart of steel.

 The plot of this story is fast paced and action packed. Peter faces disaster at every turn and only escapes each situation by the use of his wits and superior ability for violence. As I saw his life unfolding through a series of memories I could see his development and the reason for his current situation is made clear. As he tries to outwit the men who have come to kill him, he does some incredible things. Some of it is pretty far-fetched even for fiction but still makes for an amazing story. As the end of the book draws closer and his desperation to survive grows stronger he pushes himself past the threshold that a human should be able to bear, doing things that no man should even consider doing! I am surprised that he doesn't end up insane by the end of the book!

Although the story itself was interesting, I was really turned off by the constant use of profanity. Josh for some reason seems to think that almost every sentence was incomplete without some sort of expletive and he made matters worse by throwing in needless vulgarity whenever he could find the slightest excuse to do so. He also tries to show off the fact that he is a doctor in real life by including a lot of medical jargon that, while interesting at first, grows tiresome quite quickly. I wondered, as I listened, if this medical information was factual but at the end there is a disclaimer that the entire work including this so called medical knowledge is fictional. He needlessly states that one should never try any of the crazy acts of desperation depicted in the book, as if I might be that stupid!

I listened to the audio book read by Robert Petkoff. His performance wasn't too bad but I found his voice a bit monotone and he wasn't very good at the accents he tried to do. However, I didn't mind his performance near as much as I did the profanity and vulgarity.

Overall, I feel that Josh took an otherwise interesting premise and almost totally ruined it. He could have made a very good book out of this idea but I guess that just isn't his style. I have to say that after listening to this book, I would be strongly opposed to letting him treat me as my doctor! If you are a big fan of Mob fiction, I guess you might like this but I would generally recommend that you skip it and try something else.

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