I loved the reader from the start. It's almost like listening to music; the words don't matter that much. I liked the character and even the diary style story but it just never got too far off the ground. Walton does a good job of telling the story through the main character's viewpoint and weaving her past into the present story. But I agree with other reviewers--this story is rather anticlimactic. But worth it just to listen to Katherine!
I LOVE SciFi ! I'm also a PhD student in Engineering and can only find the time to read using Audible!
It was exceptionally real feeling. The thought process written down of a young girl in her diary feels spot on. All the SF references were great, and especially amusing in a fantasy story. The fantasy aspect of the story was relatively mild, but then became disproportionately intense.
Took me back into myself, into the worlds of books I dove into and jumped off from when I was a kid. I keep trying to tell people about the story, and keep finding myself saying "it's hard to describe... it's itself." And it is. Kellgren's narration is particularly splendid. I am glad I listened to the narration before I read the book myself, which is a bit of a shock to me, but listening to the cadence and passion Kellgren breathes into the first person storytelling was a warmly intimate way to meet Mori, and I savored it. Now to dig out the books that populate Mori's world, both the old friends and the ones she introduced me to.
I felt that the story starts after the actual interesting story has already ended. I kept hoping for flashbacks that would tell me the real story. I find it a boring trope to have the main character as some sort of super reader. There were just lists and lists of SF books that the main character reads and if you are not familiar with them then it is very boring. I started to eye roll every time the main character would start to chronicle her new favorite SF books and was wishing I was reading those books instead. If I read this book as a physical book I would have skimmed or skipped many sections. Underlying story is somewhat interesting but there is a lot slogging to piece together that story.
I was disappointed in the book. The other reviews were good but I found it painfully pretentious and mostly boring.
The audio novel is probably fine for the reader who likes this kind of story.
I don't believe I would
I need to remember to listen to samples before making purchases. No matter how good the story is, the narrator makes or breaks the experience.
Unfortunately, this audiobook was not my favorite - which perhaps explains why it was so easy to take a long break from listening to it! It is not a bad book, really, but the author chose to have this coming-of-age-story be relayed through journal entries. I think it would have perhaps been more successful in print version. Though I originally though that the accent would add to the fun of this, the narrator’s voice can be a bit distracting in the performance with some accents overly emphasized. What I like the most about the book is the obvious passion the journaler, Mor, has for reading - particularly Science Fiction novels. Though I have read quite a bit in this genre as well, this book includes her reactions to many titles that I had never even heard of! In fact, the majority of the book seems to be an outlet for discussion on SF literature - with a few classics sprinkled in. School, Mor’s fractured family life, romance and bits of magic are all rather sidelined by recountings of plots, characters, authors and a consistent dislike of maths. The climax feels rather rushed and genuinely unsatisfying - nor does it seem to mesh with the preceding pages (hours listening). Maybe it’s just that Walton too accurately captured a fifteen year old and that is why I never quite connected with the narrator...
Genre: Fantasy (technically, urban fantasy, but it doesn't fit any of the tropes)There is very little plot to this book, it is more a mood and character study. It is told entirely though diary entries of a high-school aged (or in Britain and Wales where the book is set forth form/lower fifth form aged) Mori Phelps during 1979. What has happened in the past is explained in dribs and drabs - there was an accident and Mori's twin sister died and Mori herself was crippled. This accident was either caused by their mother or caused by Mori in an attempt to stop their mother from doing something vile with magic, it's not quite clear. Mori was then forced to live with her mother after her grandfather's subsequent stroke and runs away. Child services sends her to live with her father, Daniel, who abandoned them when she was a baby, so he's a stranger to her. Luckily for her, Daniel shares her love of science fiction, not so luckily, he lives with his sisters who immediately pack the Welsh middle-class Mori off to an upper class British boarding school. Her only solace is reading. Her diary is filled with the books she's read obsessively, which are mostly science fiction, but she does read mysteries and Plato as eagerly. In many ways the book is an homage to scifi and fandom, but it's also a fond stroll down memory lane, when there was no internet and the way you discovered new books was to see them all bright and shiny in a bookstore and eagerly gobbled them up.
The way magic works in this novel is unique in my reading experience -- it's not like D&D, reliable do X get Y result. It's very fluid: the effects of a magic spell can't be foreseen, and can always be explained away. Mori struggles with the morality of her own actions magic-wise, which is made worse by the very intangibility of determining exactly what she did. There are fairies (although it's not at all clear that that's what they are -- that's just what Mori calls them) but most people can't see them, and they don't look like what most people think fairies look like; they aren't Tolkein's elves, or Shakespeare's Peaseblossoms and sprites, nor Tinkerbell. They are more earthy and non-human, and they generally don't talk - and when they do, they don't use nouns. Like classic fairy stories, it is best to treat them with caution, although Mori, being a socially awkward teenager, frequently fails to do so, with varying results.
I enjoyed the book very much - but it is not a fast paced action-adventure, if that's what you're looking for. It's more a slow period piece, examination of character, time and place. Off the top of my head I can't think of another science fiction/fantasy book its similar too. It did leave me with a substantial list of sci-fi classics i want to go re-read simply from Mori's excitement reminding me about them!
Katherine Kellgren uses a welsh accent throughout the audio book; it adds a lot to Mori's perspective and the class-conflict between her and her classmates, although it did take a bit to get used to initially.
For all the diary tone is fairly light, much of the subject matter was rather dark somewhat depressing.
My review of this book was going to be blah blah blah geeky sci-fi lit comment blah blah blah teenage girl angst. Blah blah blah geeky sci-fi lit comment. Blah blah blah WTF!
There are times when this book feels brilliant. But at about halfway through I started to wonder how in the world this book won both the Hugo and Nebula. I can only imagine how weak the competition must have been for this book you have won.
I'm giving this book 2 out of 5 stars. I feel that is being nice because there are times that this book tries really hard shine and has really cool references. But its lack of plot development kills everything else that it does cool.
Katherine Kellgren has a wondorful range and her reading of this is the best part of the book.