I read and listen to a lot of books, and it's rare that I don't finish a book, but I gave up on The Mark halfway through. I could tolerate the implausible basic plot but not the completely unbelievable twists and turns and the painfully awkward dialogue.
I had a difficult time finishing this book because, in my opinion, the narrator overacted from beginning to end. Every character had an accent or an unusual speech characteristic. They were so annoying that they distracted from the plot rather than enhanced it. And even the simplest sentences had words that were emphasized by volume or by being dragged out. I don't think people talk that way all the time.
If you enjoy listening to books that are acted rather than read, you may disagree with me.
If a book is to be performed rather than read, it's essential to choose a narrator whose voice sounds something like that of the main character. In most cases, the narrator should be the same gender as the protagonist. Mr. Dufris is unable to make Janet sound anything like an sweet young woman. He does better with the male characters.
I've now listened to two books read by Scott Brick and will purchase no more. In my opinion, he reads at least 20% too slowly and provides dramatic emphasis when none is required.
I almost always prefer unabridged audiobooks, but some books really need to be abridged. Repetitious material that can be ignored by a reader may drive a listener to distraction. For example, the author of this book must have described the Egyptian detective's smoking habits more than 100 times. Every time the detective pulled out another cigarette, my stomach roiled.
A poorly chosen narrator can make a 43-hour listening experience drag on to feel like 403 hours. Fortunately, Humphrey Bower's narration of Shantaram enhances the book, bringing each character to life. His rendering of accents seems perfect to me.
Somehow, I did not read this book as a young person and was happy to find it available at audible.com. I believe the narrator's style and pacing works well to depict the slow pace of life and almost suffocating relationships in a small English coal town. It reminds me of the narration of War and Peace, 60 wonderful hours immersed in a different time and place.
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