Wonder is a story that all middle school children should be reading. As an elementary teacher, I can tell you that it doesn't do justice to the occasional savagery of young adults, but it's still a close enough approximation to be a valuable tale.
The trouble with this recording is the narrator who performs the role of August. August is in many ways a naive and overprotected character, but the narrator's vocal presentation is not nuanced and represents him as more infantile than I understood him to be. Indeed, I'm not sure this male role should have been performed by a woman: I found her attempt at a prepubescent male child's voice to be grating and unpleasant to listen to. The narrator who performed Jack's character was much more believable as a city kid; indeed, all the other character performances (some of which may have been performed by the same narrator who performs as August, but using a different voice, thankfully) were excellent. If you can tolerate this troublesome character representation, then you'll enjoy this book. I gritted my teeth and plowed through the initial sections until the narrators switched, and I'm glad I did---the story's worth reading to its conclusion.
I suspect one of two things is going on here: either Ms. Druga is only loosely acquainted with any actual flesh-and-blood gay men, or her intended audience is women who are only loosely acquainted with any gay men. The concept for the story isn't terrible, but the main character is frustratingly one-dimensional, and that situation is NOT improved by the sub-par audio quality or the truly unfortunate narration. It's not that I object to the stereotypical effeminacy of Felix---I'm a pretty nelly queen myself---so much as the fact that nothing about this character reads as realistic or remotely nuanced. I downloaded this expecting a light, fun campy listen, so I didn't go into this looking for great literature, but this audiobook failed to meet even the lowest listening standards. Don't waste your money or your credit!
WOW! NOS4A2 puts Heart-Shaped Box to shame, no question. This is a phenomenal book made all the better by Kate Mulgrew's superb narration. We all know that a bad narrator can made an otherwise-great book unlistenable; believe me, no danger of that here! Mulgrew is pitch-perfect with every single character. Her interpretation of Manx in particular is skin-crawlingly good. I will certainly be purchasing any other projects to which she lends her vocal talents! Out of the 100+ audiobooks I've downloaded from Audible, I'd say I've had about a 50/50 success rate. Some have been sublime, others downright unlistenable. NOS4A2 definitely falls in the former category!
NOTE: This one starts off with a terrific bang then slows down for just a little bit to do some set-up. Don't be thrown off by the momentary lull---by the time you hit the two-hour-mark, things are revving up again and they never slow down for the rest of this incredible ride!
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