I’ve listened to somewhere between four and five dozen audiobooks (used to be an Audible subscriber) and the voice acting/narration on this book is definitely in my top three, if not in the top spot itself. Although the narrator slipped a bit in the last chapter with Garcia sounding a bit like Chad, it was otherwise an amazing performance. The narrator did something like 15 different, distinct voices. It’s not always necessary and it’s distracting if done poorly, but for this book it really brought something special. I’ve been a huge opponent of those who have used ebook DRM to prevent book readers from autoreading books to the sight-impaired. This book is a perfect example of why they shouldn’t prevent sight-impaired people from having a machine read a book. That’s just someone reading a book. It’s nothing special. But a performance, like in this recording of Striptease, that’s something worth paying for and something MANY years away when it comes to machine reading.
As for the substance of this book, I can see why Hiaasen has such a following. The satire and wit was sharp and biting. I almost fell out of bed with the hilarity of the final scene with Chad in the last chapter (not the Epilogue). I shouldn’t feel bad spoiling a book that’s 20 years old (and made into a cult classic movie – which I haven’t seen), but I had such a great time with this book, that I’d like to not be the one to spoil it. Here’s what’s great about this book: all the characters are real Characters. I never found myself bored with any of them. The political satire is top notch and hasn’t changed in the past 20 years. The social commentary is a lot of fun. The book also does something that society and pop culture haven been good at – portraying the dancers at the strip club as human beings. It really shouldn’t matter WHY someone chooses to do something that isn’t hurting anyone, but the main character certainly has a reason that goes along with something the majority of society would find acceptable. The lawsuit satires are definitely of the 90s. I mean, we’re still with them (Ancient Greeks and Romans were incredibly litigious as well – it’s a human trait, I think). But I remember that there was a real lawsuit zeitgeist in the 90s and this book taps into that in the most hilarious way. Finally, the divorce plotline is a great satire in the spectacular ways the system can fail us.
My only two complaints with the book were that, one, Daryl’s luck makes him second only to horror movie villains in his ability to terrorize. Even in a book full of outlandish ideas it can reach ridiculous heights at times that took me out of the story. Second, while the book was overall paced very well, it does take some tangents where it’s pretty obvious Hiaasen is messing with you because he just left a plot point dangling. At times I found myself wondering how I had so much more story left.
Overall, I STRONGLY recommend this reading of the book – Goodreads says cassette, I think, but I got this as MP3s from a Humble Bundle. I also really recommend this book (even if you have to read it to yourself) whether or not you’ve seen the movie. I enjoyed it a lot without having seen the movie. Now I’m curious to see if the characters match what I saw in my head.