Candace's Book Blog
This is the third Zoe & Zak book I've listened to on audio and I have to say, they just keep getting better and better. There are so many things I love about this series so I hope that I can express my love well enough that you know that this is a series you MUST get!
Zoe and Zak are perfect compliments to each other. Zoe is more serious and Zak is all about the fun. In the past they've had to deal with some serious life or death situations, but things step up another notch in this one and things are so serious that Zak could die if they don't figure things out. It's clear that Zoe is freaking out and it's not really helping much. Zak on the other hand is handling things well and gives us some comedic relief. Not that the book feels so 'scary' or whatever, but knowing that things really ARE serious makes it a bit more intense.
In this book there's a new bad, but who would have guessed it to be the new student who seems to get his way with everything and everyone? He has it out for Zak and will go to any lengths to make Zak look bad, or to get him in trouble.
One thing I really, really love about these books is the culture. I think it's important to teach our kids about other cultures and so them being at a boarding school in India is perfect. It's an international school and Zoe and Zak are American, so we can follow things easily. But they are experiencing Indian culture everyday. And Zoe does a good job of explaining the foods and the different words used, etc. So we don't get too much and can feel like we are really there. I appreciated that the words they use in India were used and explained. For example, the word 'walla' (I listened to the audio so the spelling might be wrong) is someone who sells something. So when they say the 'bike walla' we know what they are talking about, it's the person selling the bikes.
I have watched some shows about the scary roads in the Himalaya's so it was easy for me to really picture things as they were barreling down (or up) the mountain and Zoe feeling like they would fall off the cliff at any minute. There were so many times in this book that I found myself just staring off into the distance listening intently. I listen while doing things usually (cooking, cleaning, etc) so this was impressive that it pulled me out of doing stuff to where I concentrated completely on the story.
The narration is pure BRILLIANCE. I have listened to quite a few audiobooks and there's not many narrators that can pull off a variety of voices. Sonja Field does it all perfectly. We get Zoe and Zak and their two distinctive voices that are easy to tell apart. We also get the various Indian accents, somehow still distinctive from each other. We also get some British accents and a few other voices but on top of that we get the various things like the talking elephant Alta, the creature called Mon Sta and various other animals that all had their own incredible voices. Oh and the parrot that we get in this one, also done perfectly. This is definitely the best narration I have heard in an audiobook yet.
If you have a reluctant reader this is a series I recommend. This is perfect for middle grade readers up to adults. It's a series the whole family can enjoy together. It's a perfect pace of adventure with fabulous characters, a wonderful setting, and an intense plot that keeps you wrapped up and anxious for more . I couldn't recommend this any more highly. It's perfection.