This wasn't destined to be a book I love because I'm fairly uninterested in the lives of musical prodigies. But there was, of course, more to the story and it was well done so I did end up enjoying it. The author narrates quite well, and I enjoyed the addition of the background music except the one time it included vocals, which competed with the narration. But overall, I liked it.
Claire Danes somehow seems a surprising choice to narrate, but I found her tone and style to be quite perfect for this classic feminist novel. I hadn't read The Handmaid's Tale in probably close to 20 years, but it's still just as good as it was then, maybe even better.
I really thought I'd like this. The premise of the story was intriguing, as was the setting. But it failed to keep me interested. It began promisingly enough, and the ending wasn't bad, but in between...well, nothing really happened. I know I'm in the minority - reviews from critics and laypeople alike have been positively glowing, and it has been nominated for awards. Somehow though, it just fell sort of flat for me.
The whole premise of this book is off-putting to some, and if that's how it strikes you just stop there. Because not only is it about an adult woman preying on 14-year-olds, it's quite sexually graphic, and since it's written from Celeste's perspective, the sex is actually pretty sexy. I'm not bothered by anything in fiction (no 14-year-old boys were actually harmed in the writing of this book!) so I found it a bit fascinating. Celeste is a great unlikeable protagonist and I thought the story progressed well all the way to its satisfying ending. I actually tried this one in print first and found the quality of the writing inconsistent, but the audio worked much better for me. The narrator somehow made Celeste's voice more palatable and I binge-listened to this over the long weekend. I like when authors take risks by tackling taboo subjects, and Alissa Nutting pulled it off quite well.
In some ways it reminded me a bit of Green's Looking for Alaska. There is a girl who is mysterious and misunderstood, one boy is sort of obsessed with her but doesn't really know her, she is suddenly gone and then everyone tries to figure out what happened to her. But that's where the similarities end.
I love a good road trip novel, and I enjoyed the one in this book even more than those in An Abundance of Katherines (also John Green) or Amy and Roger's Epic Detour or Going Bovine. There's something wonderful about teenagers heading out together on an unsupervised trip without permission or proper provisions. I liked seeing them find their way to their destination, while strengthening their friendships along the way.
On their trip to find Margo, it became clear that each character had a different way of seeing her. Nobody really knew her because she kept herself veiled and only revealed what she wanted others to see, but everyone interpreted those clues through their own filters. It became clear just how much our views of other people are shaped by our own lenses.
I've read most of John Green's books at this point and this is definitely one of my favorites (along with The Fault In Our Stars). His characters are clever and witty, yet still have the faults inherent in being a teenager. The narration was well done and I very much enjoyed listening to it.
This was a great idea for a story and I found many aspects of the plot interesting. But the main character, Velvet, was just unbelievably naive and gullible and it took her FAR too long to learn what was obvious to me early on. The narrator was ok, but the production was not great. There was NO space between chapters at all, and twice during the book it did this odd skipping thing where, for a couple of seconds, I think there was a bit of a different book.
I would listen to this narrator read anything. She has a slightly deep, slightly husky voice that was perfect for this book. She read the characters different enough from one another that it was easy to tell who was speaking, without making those differences exaggerated. Lovely job!
This is not a book of action - it's more about people living in a specific time, but I was interested in those people and the time in which they lived. I felt quite transported by it. Tinker Grey reminded me a bit of Jay Gatsby, perhaps because I was rereading The Great Gatsby at the same time. Although it wasn't plot-heavy, I still thought it was a good story, but the real strength is in the beautiful writing.
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