Locust Fork, AL, United States
It’s often hard to go from reading a book in print to listening to an audiobook. You already have a voice in your head or you have an idea of how the characters would say certain things. If the audiobook strays from that too much, the audiobook isn’t enjoyable. I’m happy to report that this was a seamless transition. I suppose the months between my first reading and this listen had a little bit to do with that. But Alex McKenna is pretty awesome. She has a great voice for A’s character. It’s not super girly, but it’s not exactly boyish either. It’s a bit husky for a female and it really works for A. There’s a good distinction between A’s voice and Rhiannon’s voice, so that’s good. A’s voice stays the same throughout the book. I always thought it would have been cool if they hired different people for every day, but I think this works better. The story is told in first person so it makes sense that A’s voice is consistently the one he hears in his head. McKenna demonstrated emotion, took cues from the text, and delivered the lines smoothly. It was a great audio experience. I recommend giving it a listen.
I’m going to go ahead and say that my feelings about this book may be a little different than some because of how close to home some of it hits. I have a family member who has been battling cancer for the past two and a half years. Without saying too much or going into anything, I’ll just say the results have been less than desirable. That being said, listening to this audiobook was an emotional, but rewarding experience. I also listened to the audiobook in its entirety while I was at home sick one day. I’m not sure if my reclusive tendencies while I’m sick skewed any of my emotions while listening. All I know is this: my love for John Green has only been heightened, and pretty dramatically.
Cancer is slowly becoming “the topic.” I’m not saying that to undermine the topic or the books that authors are writing about it. It’s a very real and present part of our world. There should be books written on it. I’ve only read a few, but they have been amazing. This one was no different. It dealt with the subject in a very real way, full of raw emotion, sadness, and some much needed hope. Not necessarily hope that “we can beat this thing” or whatever, but hope that you don’t have to “become your disease,” as Augustus would say. You can still be you and still have positive, enriching experiences. And though I may be one of those people who doesn’t really understand because I’m not actually going through it, it didn’t make this book any less precious to me.
I have a huge appreciation for a few of the supporting characters in this book. Hazel’s parents became so important to me. Their presence wasn’t a huge one, but it was an important one. Cancer is something that doesn’t just affect the people its happening to. It also affects those people permanently tied to the diagnosed by unconditional love. There is no escaping the despair, hope (false or otherwise), and fight that those individuals feel on their loved ones behalf. Trust me. Hazel was not someone I loved from the start, mainly because Augustus was right about her. She was letting her disease win by refusing to live her life. His influence and love helped her, and that is one of my favorite things about this book. And, good God, do I love Augustus Waters. If you have doubts, make sure you read the whole book before saying you don’t get it.
I’m a little at a loss here. I’m not too keen on writing negative reviews, but I know it has to happen. How can I consider myself an honest blogger otherwise? Still, I’m nicer than I’d like to think I am. I don’t want to be a bitch or upset anyone. I like it when things are smooth sailing. That being said, this is going to be an experiment in writing a negative review without being mean.
I requested this audio edition of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button from the Solid Gold Reviewer program at Audiobook Jukebox. It’s a story I’ve had on my TBR for quite a while and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get it under my belt. I hate that I was so disappointed by this audiobook, but since I am the one who requested it, I feel I should give my opinion. I think it’s only fair to say that my experience with the narration itself took a lot away from the story. I don’t feel that I can be fair to the book itself, so most of this will deal instead with the narration. I have already checked out an e-book copy so I can re-read the book with fresh eyes and give it a fair review.
I’m going to do something a little different and that’s answer questions. I, being completely anal retentive, have a review guide that I use in case I’m at a loss and I need a little push to get my thoughts flowing. With audiobook narration, I ask myself these simple questions: Does the narrator embody the characters? Are the voices and accents appropriate and consistent? Does the narrator make me feel as if the events in the book are occurring as I’m listening? Does the narrator pay good attention to punctuation, emphasis, and flow? When I ask myself those questions it’s easier to determine if my like or dislike of a narrator are due to the story-telling practices or my own personal taste.
Let’s start with characters. While I have to admit John Michaels was consistent with the voices, I also wish there had been a more pronounced difference in them. I think he was held back by his own voice in that respect. That’s not to say that character voices are always important, but I think this story lends itself to that kind of narration. Mostly, I just didn’t feel that he embodied the characters. There wasn’t an emotional investment in what the characters were saying and doing, and that’s an extremely important skill if you want to be a successful voice actor.
I was also disappointed by the awkward delivery. Sometimes he said things slowly, sometimes he blew through them, and sometimes there were strange pauses in the middle of words. It almost sounded as if he was struggling to get the words out. That totally distracted me from the story itself and from having a feeling of being inside the story (which is the entire reason I love audio). On top of those complaints, his voice just wasn’t to my liking.
I think it’s safe to say that I was thoroughly disappointed by this audiobook. The narration completely distracted me from the story. Let me stress that this rating is for this audiobook edition and not the story itself.
I saw the movie adaptation years ago and didn’t realize it was a book until about two years ago. I enjoyed the movie and I’ve been trying to go and read the books that some of the movies I’ve seen were based on. This experience didn’t quite work out as I had planned.
Nothing really stood out about any character in this entire book. They just felt so flat. I think they were supposed to come off as raw and real, but I just ended up hating them. Kitty was selfish and silly. She went on and on about how much she didn’t like Walter because he was boring. The reality was he was an intelligent, mature adult who worked for a living. She’d never worked a day in her life and was still more interested in parties than anything. I think Walter thought she would grow up eventually, and she did. I just couldn’t like her. Charlie was a class-A jerk. If there’s anything I did like about Walter, it’s that he could see that from the start. Kitty was naïve and vain enough to think Charlie loved her. The only good characters in the book were minor characters Kitty meets in the village she and Walter move to. I don’t need to love characters, but I do need to feel connected to them and I never felt that.
I spent most of this book waiting for something to happen that never happened. I just wanted Kitty to make things right and learn from her mistakes. I’m not sure that she ever did though. She went through a period of loathing herself and building up hate for Charlie. She also eventually gained respect for Walter and who he was, but that turned into pity instead of love. ***Spoiler Alert*** Then, after all of her self-loathing, after knowing that Charlie was a total asshole, she still sleeps with him right after her husband dies! I’m not buying the overcome with passion bs. She was just heartless. She was a pitiful, pathetic excuse for a human being. ***End Spoilers*** I just feel like she never learned anything. I truly think the most she got from the whole ordeal was that she shouldn’t marry on a whim.
There might be some people ready to kill me for this, but the film wins. I’ll admit that it’s partly because there’s some romance in the film and there’s not any in the book. It’s mostly because I actually like Walter and Kitty in the film, even if Kitty is a total idiot in the beginning. The book is just too depressing. I will say this: they changed some major plot points in the film. It makes me wonder how those decisions are made. Does someone just wake up one morning and say, “I should make a movie adaptation of The Painted Veil, but it has some pretty awful characters and a super depressing plot. Oh well, I’ll just change that.” That makes no sense to me. I’ll grant that my reaction to this book is due to the fact that I saw the film first, but I’m not sure I would have finished the book otherwise. I only finished it this time due to curiosity about what was different.
I did listen to this on audio. Unfortunately, I can’t say much about that because I was too distracted by how much I wasn’t enjoying the actually story. I think Kate Reading did a good job. I’ve listened to audiobooks by her before and enjoyed them. I just didn’t like the story overall so it’s hard for me to make a good call on the narration.
Wow. Just wow. I've been so excited about this book since I first heard the name, saw the cover, read the synopsis. I just knew I was going to love it. Still, I was surprised by how much it captivated me. The plot and characters tugged at me until I couldn't take it anymore. I had to finish the book. I had to know what would become of all these beloved characters and the circus, which almost seems like a character itself. I believe I have truly become a reveur.
There were several things that pulled me headfirst into this book: it's performed by Jim Dale, it's written at the turn of the nineteenth century, there is an epic love story involved, every character has their own depth that makes it impossible to place them into any category, and the writing is simply gorgeous. The latter two were things I discovered upon beginning, but they are a huge part of why this book is so incredible and why you're hearing so much praise. Now, let me caution you before I continue. Don't let your expectations get away with you. Yes, there is certainly an amazing, magical world between these pages. That you can hope for. But don't expect the most passionate love story you've ever heard or spell-casting duels. That's not what it's about. The love that blossoms isn't shoved down your throat like a romance novel nor are there intense battles. Those two elements of the story are a little more understated, but in the most creative and beautiful way. I'll just say they weren't quite what I was expecting, but it was a pleasant surprise. I just hate for people to listen to too much hype and decide things about a book before they've read it (or listened to it).
I find myself in a bit of a dilemma. I can't decide if the story or the characters were more important to me. It seems to me like they are so entwined with each other that there's really no way to separate them. The just compliment each other, I suppose. There are really three main characters, not two. Celia is the daughter of an enchanter and one of the magicians in the competition. Marco is an orphan trained to compete against Celia. Celia says he is more fitting of the title "illusionist" than she is, and I have to agree. Bailey is a boy who falls in love with Le Cirque des Rêves as a child and it begins to feel more like home to him than his family farm. The book spans about twenty or so years and the chapters rotate their focus of the three characters for the most part. Celia and Marco do seem to be in the center of it all, but I think Bailey is a very important part of the story.
It's hard to write reviews about something I really loved. I want to say so much, but I can't. I supposed I'll leave most of those things unsaid. I do want to touch on one thing. I've read a few reviews for this book in which the reviewer says that you should skip this book if you don't like magic. I have to say I disagree. I think this is one of those books that transcends genre taste. There are people I know who don't particularly like books about magic who loved this book. I think it's because it's not about the magic. The magic is just a big part of the character's lives. It's not what the book is about. The book is about those three characters and their journeys. I would say if you don't normally like magic to open your mind to it enough to give this book a try. I can promise it will be worth it in the end.
What can I possible say about Jim Dale that hasn't already been said? He's a genius. He's one of my favorite voice actors. I can go back to a print version of a book I've listened to him read and hear his voice saying the words in my head. He's such a joy to listen to and I am so excited that he is involved with this wonderful book. This one comes very highly recommended from me. It's my favorite book of the year.
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