I read this novel a few weeks after it was first published and loved it. I couldn’t wait to hear the audio version but I was very skeptical. I just didn’t think it could live up to the high expectations I had for it. I was wrong!
This is one of those truly rare examples of an audio book actually being better than the print version which, given the scope, depth, and ambition of the prose, is really saying something. This is due in large part to the fact that Irish actors and actresses were used to narrate the main characters instead of Americans “doing” Irish accents, a big pet peeve of mine. It helps to lend an aura of authenticity to the dialogue.
The performances are excellent as well. The parts of the book featuring long conversational exchanges between Skippy and his Seabrook friends are lively, hilarious, profane, and melancholy. Scenes like these are better served by this mult-cast format to get a feel for each student’s distinct personality, as well as to keep track of who’s speaking, which may have proved difficult for a single narrator. The characterizations are, to my ear, pitch-perfect. By that I mean the voices used were eerily similar to the voices I had in my head on my first reading of this book and that almost NEVER happens when I listen to the audio version, and I listen to a lot of audiobooks. It's better than I could have hoped for.
Despite some of the dark subject matter, this is actually a fun listen thanks to the brilliant narration.
I’ve already started on my second listen. I couldn’t recommend this highly enough.
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