I really enjoyed this third (last?) book in the series. Once again I suspect that part of my enjoyment was because I listened to the audiobook. I wonder if the humor, emotion, and excitement would come across quite as well without the voices to express the them, I suspect some of it might be a bit flat on the page. And the series really was designed to be listened to, the whole concept is that it's being dictated by the two main characters. Why imagine you're hearing their voices when you really can? The woman who voices Sadie still seems a bit mature to be a teenage girl, but it doesn't take away from the narration to any real degree. Neither reader is one of my favorites, but both are quite skilled. But I've really enjoyed the series and I'm holding out hope that the references at the end of the book to future troubles and other gods in New York weren't just inside jokes about Camp Half-Blood and were hints about a crossover book or series to come.
Gideon Emery narrating the last few books elevates what could be a fun, campy story into something a bit more, conveying the deep felt emotions Eddie feels for his family despite his as equally felt disappointments, fears, resentments and angers. Emery convey the mix of bantering humor and deadly seriousness that captures most of the book and definitely Eddie and Molly's relationship. And he's just so darn great to listen too. He's the main reason I keep splurging on the audiobooks, and probably the reason I think this series is pretty good instead of pretty silly. I wish the author would stick to a story line a bit more instead of showing off how many crazy creatures he can come up with and feature in every book without bothering to make them a part of the action. But I do enjoy this series more than the Nightside at this, it has more humor and forward momentum and less of the annoying tendency to treat the book like a museum of oddities.
It was pretty good, but not as good as the original three books. None of the characters were as compelling and the plot just wasn't as exciting. Not that it was boring, but when I was listening to the first trilogy I remember not wanting to turn it off and making excuses to listen around the house, and often just loving a cool turn of phrase or really vivid description; now that I think about it I don't remember being wowed by an especially vivid description happening once here. I did like Simon a lot, and felt bad for wishing to see more of him because of course more of a character in a book pretty much necessarily means more trouble and angst. And Izzy was her usual fun self. But Clary wasn't as interesting, Jace was a victim again and whiny about it as usual, Alec was still way too young for Magnus and that whole relationship just annoys the piss out of me, and the only person with any depth was the new guy. I don't know why, but the whole thing somehow lacked the depth and intensity that the first trilogy had. It was a fun visit with old friends, if dire jeopardy can be considered fun, but it wasn't the compelling read that I'd hoped for. And the "big bad" was lame. Too typical.
As for the audiobook, that was a mixed bag as well. Ed Westwick was a very good narrator. Other than his voice for Jace, which I was really disappointed that he did with a heavy New York accent instead of with a version of the sexy accent that he used to narrate, he was terrific with all of the voices and narration. It took me a few scenes to get used to his idea of Simon's voice, for some reason I just hadn't imagined Simon with a New York accent, but I quickly got used to it and thought he was just great overall. He's the only reason the book got 2 stars for narration from me. It's a shame he couldn't get more, he deserved them.
Molly Quinn, on the other hand, was awful. It was like listening to a 3rd grader stubble and hesitate over every word. Sometimes she managed to get three out without pausing in between each one, but rarely. That sounds harsh, but I'm actually not exaggerating. It was a constant irritation that never went away and never got better. She was decent at dialog, but that was all she was good at. She was horrible at doing different voices and didn't even try except for Camille's French accent. She really was just about the worst reader I've ever heard, including authors who have no reading experience at all. They must have given her the job because she's an actress without making her read, and it was a big mistake. I'm sure having her name on the cover sold books, but I don't know what they're going to do next time. I'm really torn, I've listened to all of the books and really don't want to start reading in print, and I could save a lot of money by getting the print version from the library too, buying the audiobook is a huge splurge for me, but if she's reading again I don't know if I can stand it. She's really bad.
I loved it, but I can tell that if I'd read the print version it would not have been nearly as good. I think it would have been a bit better than the first book either way, but this series should really be enjoyed as audiobooks. Its style is that it's being dictated onto tapes to be found by future recruits, in alternating or semi-alternating chapters by the two kids who are the lead characters, so it's really meant to be heard. A lot of the humor and suspense would probably fall flat in print, but out loud it comes across as cute or very exciting. I also had the dubious benefit of being on the road a lot more than usual because of a doggy emergency, so I got to let the momentum build a lot more than I normally do, which really made it fun. (Razor seemed to really like it too.) The readers were very good, although the woman's voice was a bit more mature than I imagined a 13 year-old girl's voice to be. But it was a minor issue compared to being an excellent reader, which they both were. The story was exciting, the characters were either likable or detestable as needed, the mythology was varied and interesting from major to obscure, it was all fun. Get the kids the audiobook and listen to it together on your next car trip. Or just get it for yourself, you'll enjoy it.
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