Monday, February 22, 2010

Book Review: Simple Genius by David Baldacci

When I left for the Amherst show this weekend I knew that I would finish "Secrets of Eden" on the ride down, so I needed (wanted) to download another audiobook. I poked around audible but didn't find a book that really screamed "download me!!". There are a couple that I'm dying to listen to that aren't released yet. David Baldacci's works have been a recent find and have been consistently good stories that are engaging yet flow relatively well when consumed in small segments. If I have any complaints regardling David Baldacci's novels - at least the ones I have read - is that at between twelve and sixteen hours I've felt like there was an awful lot of dialogue that wasn't really relevant and if the audio productions had been trimmed by say - 90 minutes each that the overall experience would have been more pleasureable.

So with that in mind, I downloaded the abridged version of "Simple Genius" by David Baldacci. Right from the beginning I felt like huge chunks of relevant information had been removed from the story. While the general jist of the plot remained, the characters went wholly undeveloped.

"Simple Genius" is typical of a Baldacci government conspiracy with a twist, this time in the world of CIA mathematicians and spies. At the center of the story is a young orphan - imprinted by her father - with clues to unravel the mysterious deaths at Camp Perry - a highly classified installation in Northern Virgina - just outside of DC.

There was so much potential in the story concept and the characters could have been rich and vibrant. I won't know if these problems were a result of the abridging or if these same faults exist in the full text as well. There was a point about four hours into the listen, I stopped for fuel and when I got back in the car I realized that I wasn't hooked in the story yet. I had followed the story that far - but I wasn't committed or engaged. I've said this before: when I read or listen to a work of fiction I want that suspension of disbelief - I want to be draw into the characters and the plot. I want to be vested in their outcome. That feeling of engagement never happened for me with "Simple Genius".

If you are a David Baldacci fan and feel compelled to read or listen to this novel, I suggest the unabridged version. My guess is that there will be more than a few bits that ramble on without any clear direction (as is the case with Baldacci works), but the overall experience will be much more pleasurable.

David Baldacci's "Simple Genius" is narrated by Scott Brick and runs 13 hours and 1 minute. The abridged version of "Simple Genius" is narrated by Ron McLarty and runs 6 hours 7 minutes. Both versions have a release date of 04-04-2007 and were published by Hachette Audio. "Simple Genius" by David Baldacci is available from

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