This is a great book, read by a great narrator. I loved listening to the story unfold and could really feel the character development. I usually have to be working on something while listening to an audiobook, but I could just sit around with this and listen to it over and over again. The writing is funny, quick, and original, and Jenny Sterlin brings Sophie, Howl, and Calcifer to life. Especially Sophie; I loved her character tremendously. I'm about to make a bold statement and don't want to cause any controversy, but this is the kind of performance that makes the audio version better than the written one, and I mean that with full compliments to Diana Wynne Jones. A painting is only as good as the drawing underneath.
This book exceeded expectations. And from the hype, mine were high. All I'll say about the plot, aside from 'clever' and 'delightful' and 'heartbreaking', is that you'll want to go back to the beginning to appreciate the brilliance of what you now know that you know. The narration enhances the complex and interesting characters and the entertainment value of the story. I thought this book was listed as young adult, but now I'm not sure. It never made me wish I was reading print so I could cross my eyes and skim over weak areas. No awkward squirming in your chair for this one. Plenty of anticipatory squirming, though!
Don't read anymore reviews. It's best to go into this book knowing only that you won't be disappointed.
I ultimately gave this three stars because I would recommend it, but with a warning. Scott Lynch gets extremely embroiled in his plot, and while that is for the most part enjoyable, there were times when it was tiresome and unbelievable and I needed a break from the effort of listening and trying to care. I liked the overarching story and Locke's character, and I'm sure the second and third books are worth listening to, but I probably won't be using any of my credits on them anytime soon.
I'm pretty sure I enjoyed the story. At times it was hard to tell if the plot was weak or if the narration was what was making me cringe. The "Full Cast Family" overacted or acted badly, which resulted in a very distracting performance. I generally find multiple narrators in a dialogue a burden to listen too. Rarely are they able to seamlessly flow between voices, and the unnatural pauses and hesitations yank me from the story that is being told.
If I had read it on my own, I would have enjoyed myself more and probably given it three stars and might have mentioned it to a young person looking for a light, undemanding read. I gave it two stars instead of three because I would not recommend the audio version to anyone. If I had not been multitasking while listening, I likely would have abandoned it any moved on to something else.
If you're looking for a great fantasy listen, do yourself a favor and look up "Howl's Moving Castle."
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