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September 24, 2016 / Leslie

Book Review: I Am No One by Patrick Flanery

A Rapid Review

IAmNoOnePublisher: PRH Audio | Tim Duggan Books | July 2016
Format: Audio: 12 hours | 352 pages Rating: 3 stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

Jeremy’s life begins taking strange turns: boxes containing records of his online activity are delivered to his apartment, a young man seems to be following him, and his elderly mother receives anonymous phone calls slandering her son. Why, he wonders, would anyone want to watch him so closely, and, even more upsetting, why would they alert him to the fact that he was being watched?

The premise is excellent and timely: Jeremy, a history professor recently returned to New York from a decade in England, suddenly begins to receive boxes filled with records of his online activities. Someone is watching him and they have been doing so for many years. They also want him to know he is being watched. Who is doing it and why?

I was expecting not only a mystery, but a thriller — a story that would grab my attention from the first chapter. Instead it was very tedious and detailed. Sentences went on and on. At times incredibly boring. There was a lot of long-winded political commentary and seemingly endless diatribes on “privacy”. I get it. Where’s the plot? Just as I was about to give up near the halfway point, the story picked up the pace. Jeremy isn’t really the “no one” he thinks he is and we start to get some answers.

I figured out the mystery about three-quarters of the way through but finished up the book to see if I was right. The ending, when it finally arrived, was a bit of a let down. Not quite a thriller, this was more a warning on the dangers of unchecked mass surveillance with a little paranoia thrown in. Maybe with a different writing style — I don’t enjoy a lot of stream-of-consciousness dialog — I would have liked it a little better.

Audio production:
The novel was narrated by Steven Crossley. I started this in print but the book was such slow going that I switched to audio thinking a good narrator would make it a bit more interesting for me. And that worked. I enjoyed the way he portrayed Jeremy with a slight British accent and stuffy demeanor that I imagined Jeremy might have.

Audio Sample:

An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher and LibraryThing.
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Leave a Comment
  1. Diane / Sep 24 2016 2:07 pm

    Sounds like a great premise but, poor execution; too bad.


    • Leslie / Sep 24 2016 2:09 pm

      Too much stream-of-consciousness dialog for me.


  2. Laurel-Rain Snow / Sep 24 2016 2:07 pm

    Oh, I have this one on my list, and was looking forward to it…now, maybe I’ll wait a while. Thanks for sharing.


    • Leslie / Sep 24 2016 2:10 pm

      You need to be in the mood for a slow-moving book — or skim a lot of text!


  3. techeditor / Sep 25 2016 8:01 am

    I read this, too. You and I had pretty much the same reaction.

    I felt that Patrick Flanery, the author, was telling a story that might be somewhat autobiographical. If you read about the author, you’ll see what I mean (NYU, Oxford, film, Irish in England, etc.).

    The book could have been cut in half. The story is simple, but it is told with too many sentences, and the sentences are too long. They are so long that, often, by the time I got to the end of one, I forgot the beginning.

    I haven’t read Flanery’s other books, so I don’t know if this is his usual style. If not, I suspect that all the long sentences, all the reflection, were used to make the reader feel what O’Keefe is feeling. Maybe that was a good idea, but it sure makes this book difficult to read.

    After all those long sentences, all that reflection, the conclusion is so sudden. I expected more and feel cheated for all the loose ends and lack of explanation. What happened?


    • Leslie / Sep 25 2016 10:38 am

      I usually give up on books like this, but this was a review copy so I stuck it out. This was my first attempt to read this author too.

      This book would probably make for good discussion in book clubs, but I’m afraid to suggest it to mine because I know at least half my club would dislike it.


  4. Suko / Sep 25 2016 5:52 pm

    Leslie, thanks for sharing your honest thoughts about this audiobook. Thank you as well for the audio sample, which is a good intro to the book.


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