This didn't seem like a bad book. The subject matter is fascinating. Cline's prose wasn't particularly imaginative. He didn't seem to providing a unique or create synthesis of the available evidence - really he just reviewed a few hypotheses and used a middle-ground "they're all true" sort of construction. That's not a terrible structure for a popular audience book aimed at lay people. In fact, it may even be the ideal lay-audience structure.
The real problem with this book was the narration. Oh my god is Caploe terrible. He reads like he's performing story time to the preschool crowd at the local public library, with all sorts of over exaggerated tonal inflections. In an expository reading like this one, it's completely distracting and nearly impossible to follow the prose. I nearly gave up 10 minutes into the book. I stuck through it because the topic is really cool, but I probably absorbed less than half of the material.
I may listen to another Cline book at some point. I will never buy another book narrated by Caploe.
So the vocal performance of this book was pretty good. As for the book itself, well, I probably wouldn't have bought it if I had realized it was in the "Young Adult" genre. So that colors my experience in a negative way.
Still, it was a cool story with a few bad points in execution. I found the whole bakery sub theme to be distracting and annoying. Why was it set in a bakery? Why all the lengthy expositions on baked goods? Listen, I love a bakery as much as the next guy, but at points I felt like enough was enough. The bakery is decadent. It contrasts with the angel wings. I get it. Please don't describe another chocolate cake.
In fact, I couldn't help but think in the back of my mind the whole time that the story was set in a time period that was death for American bakeries. Post war food industrialism killed neighborhood food artisans, one of which the protagonist's grandmother is supposed to be. The small bakeries that survived from the 1950s onward did so by replicating Americans' taste for cheap, chemical products during this era. In a story filled with ghosts and a girl born with wings, the item that prevented the suspension of my disbelief was the crappy historical sociology.
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