So I just listened to a couple of audiobooks that I enjoyed. The first was Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and the second was Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. In both these books, I’m not sure I would have liked them as much if they had been in book form instead of audiobook form, but the way I experienced them worked very well.
I’m going to write this as two posts, I guess, since I’m starting late.
I once checked out BC on my Kindle (which, btw, died a sad death this week), but ended up not getting it because of one fact. The MC, Ethan, would not stop talking about how his small Southern town was just so so so so so so Southern. At several points during the book, I shouted, “Okay, we get it already.” Now I realize that that was an important part of the book, but I felt there was a little too much telling in that regard and the authors didn’t trust the readers to understand that the way things were in Gatlin were “just the way things were in Gatlin” by the umpteenth time we were told that.
So when I was trying to get into the novel on the Kindle, it just didn’t happen. But while listening to the book while at work, the first several pages of how Southern the town was seemed more palatable.
As you can guess from the above, there was quite a bit of repetition in the novel. Basically five different things happen with variations on them:
- This town is Southern. It’s really Southern. This is how Southern it is, was, and always will be. Everyone’s the same and never will change and don’t want change and don’t like new people. They’re obsessed with the “War Between the States.” Yep, we’re Southern, and that’s just the way it’s always been in Gatlin.
- Lena, the love interest, wants to do “normal girl things” before her 16th birthday, but they always blow up in her face, but she still wants to do them, even after being warned they’re going to blow up, and is always surprised by it.
- Lena is convinced that she’s going to go evil on her 16th birthday (even though all evidence says that there’s only a 50% chance that will happen), and therefore pushes Ethan and everyone away and locks herself up and ignores the fact that she wanted to do normal things before that time, even after Ethan reminds her.
- Ethan and Lena have intense magical experiences and are warned not to do it again by the adults who they most trust and who know more about the magic world than them, but they ignore them and do it anyway. (And while this seems to work in their favor, it seemed to me like the adults were incredibly convincing about why they should listen)
- And in between all those, you have some really intense scenes, mostly magical battles but sometimes not.
#4 is interesting to me, because I wonder how much of it is that I’m an adult (sorta, kinda, not really) and so there’s some teen logic that suddenly isn’t clicking, even though I’ve never had a problem figuring out that it’s teen logic before, and how much of it is that possibly the MCs just did what the authors wanted them to for the sake of continuing the story.
Now this probably seems like I didn’t like the novel, but I actually did. Thanks to the repetition, there were some parts that I got impatient with, usually Lena pushing people away, but I liked the characters and the story kept me engaged.
Things the book does well: The male POV. Intense scenes are intense. No skimping on the setting or descriptions. The romance is believable.
Things I didn’t like: Repetition. Some suspension of belief over what the adults in-the-know weren’t willing to share with MCs and how the MCs reacted to the pieces of information those adults did give them.
My favorite part: The hearing to see if Lena could stay in school
My least favorite part: The chapter in Lena’s POV (see below)
Favorite character: Ridley. I guess I like the dark characters who show more complexities than just being evil.
Pros of the audiobook: The songs in the novel were actually sung/played. There’s one very creepy scene near the beginning where there’s a storm, and the radio is staticky, and the song comes on. The audiobook actually has the transition from radio to the song, and I cannot imagine that being more creepy in the book than in audio form. This format made it easier to get through the repetition for some reason. Ethan’s narrator was pleasant to listen to and had a very slight twang.
Cons of the audiobook: The telepathy was an annoying pseudo-whisper on the audiobook, and it was sometimes hard to tell who was “whispering.” There was a chapter from Lena’s POV, and I really didn’t like her narrator at all. That said, I still prefer Full Cast Audio to ones that are read (mainly) by one person doing male and female voices. But if the entire rest of the book, including Lena’s dialogue voice, is read by a guy, why not just do that chapter with it too? It was different when it was Will Grayson, Will Grayson and the POV alternated with each chapter.
All right, there’s my review. Unless work goes super late, I’ll post my review on Paranormalcy as an audiobook tomorrow.
Currently on new iPod (because I’ve forgotten my old one exists, I guess): Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast
Lots of love,