Typically, when I post about an Audiobook, I close with a discussion about the narrator(s). But I’m going to start with it this time because Levine and deWard did such a great job, they’re the highlight of the experience for me.*
* This is not a slight against the novel. They were just that good.
In my experience, when there is a male narrator and a female narrator—the female will read all the narration and dialogue in the female character POV chapters, and the male will read all the narration and dialogue in the male character POV chapters. But here, deWard reads all the female dialogue, no matter the narrator (and vice versa). That’s a nice touch, and once I got used to it, I really appreciated it. Particularly, it helped the conversations between characters feel like conversations—there was a little bit of talking over each other, and so on. And when the two laughed together? That was either fantastic work by the narrators or by the editor (or both).
Levine, particularly when he was narrating the main male protagonist, sounded like a guy recounting a story from his past to a friend—and I could’ve listened to him all day. deWard was almost as good (the main female protagonist character was never as relaxed, so it would be out of character to sound that way—so it may be unfair to compare like that). They both made all the characters come alive (even the few I’d rather hadn’t)—and made the experience richer.
This is a Romance/Science Fiction story. It’s heavy on the romance (too heavy for my taste) and the SF is a wild, multi-dimensional/time travel story with the fate of the human race (throughout the multiverse) hanging in the balance. Orton typically balances the focused story on the central romance and the wider, all-humankind story really well—but she has a tendency to over-focus on the love story. That’s going to delight many readers/listeners, but it was a stumbling block for me. Both are told with heart and humor (not getting in the way of drama), that will suck you in and not let you go.
I don’t really know how to summarize the setup of the book in a paragraph or two—and the Book Blurb gives away a bit too much (but really is an entertaining blurb), so I’m not going to get into it more than I did in that last paragraph. Just trust me on this—if you like the feel of what I’m describing, give this a shot.*
* Or, fine, read the Spotlight where I’ve copied the Blurb.
The characters—from minor to major—are wonderfully drawn and fully-developed. There are a couple of characters that are technically allies to the protagonists (and humanity in general, but function largely as antagonists. And man, I really didn’t like them at all—just as I wasn’t supposed to. But those that you were supposed to like? I just wanted to spend more time with them all—the point-of-view characters in particular.
There are some wonderful dogs throughout the book, and I fully expect that they’ll be pretty important before the trilogy ends. For those of you who prefer felines, there’s one of them, too—and the inclusion of the inferior pet doesn’t hurt things at all.*
* Man, I hope that comes across as tongue-in-cheek.
As I said, this is the beginning of a trilogy and ends in a way that practically demands moving on to the next volume as soon as possible (which is easy as the entire trilogy is published)—while not really a cliff-hanger, it sure works like one.
This was a fun novel—even if it’s not really my cup of tea. I’d probably give it a 3-3 1/2 Stars, a fun read that I’d recommend…but that narration knocks it up to 4 (maybe I should give it a 4 1/2), a strong recommendation from me.
There’s a little too much romance in this Romance/Science Fiction for my taste—but it’s a compelling and entertaining read full of wonderfully drawn characters. I strongly recommend the audiobook, but if that’s not your thing, I expect the print edition will almost be as good.
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My thanks to The Write Reads for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.