Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
My review: 4 stars

Wow! I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked this one up. I'd heard very vague good things but had no sense about the book beyond that. And it was a wild and crazy ride through a book like no other I've read in a longggg time! I really enjoyed every moment of the the book.

I listened to the audiobook and loved the narrator. He made the characters come alive for me and I loved the sound effects throughout the audio presentation. It added that something special, in my opinion.

First and foremost, if really bad language, sexual situations or violence bother you, you should definitely avoid this book. It's dark, chaotic and has more 'bad' language than 'good.' But, the voice of the main character is AMAZING! I was swept away with this cocky, entertaining, witty and occasionally obnoxious character. I couldn't wait to see what he was going to say or do next. He was extremely compelling.

The story itself was interesting to me and I really liked how Josh Bazell told the story (in terms of structure). Basically (and I'm not giving anything away because this is all on the book jacket), a doctor is trying to keep a patient (who is a mobster) from telling anyone where he is because he's in witness protection after turning on the mob when he was a mob hitman. As he tells this story, he's dealing with a constant barrage of medical issues/problems. In the middle of all of that, Bazell also inserts flashbacks to how this doctor came to be in witness protection. I still can't quite believe how effectively Bazell pulled it all together in a way that came off (to me) as effortless.

Until the end. The ending is why I am only giving the book 4 stars and not 5. It felt to me as if the book ended fairly jarringly. One minute we're running full speed ahead and then BAM it's over. It felt like the momentum that kept the entire book flowing until the very end just fell out and it was wrapped up entirely too quickly which wasn't in any way like the rest of the book was written. I wish that Bazell had spent a bit more time on the ending so that it flowed more effectively.

However, in the end, this is a wonderful book. One that I truly enjoyed reading. It isn't an easy one to explain - you kind of have to experience it. It's kind of like taking the Soprano's and throwing in some ER. Crazy but wonderful! If you can handle the language and gritty content, I definitely recommend you give this one a chance!

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