This week I listened to a book, title not to be mentioned here, read by my favorite audio narrator, Kate Reading. (If you need to know, you can check out my 2019 Books page for book #20.) This is a story of how a truly good audio narration can alter a book. This is a perfect example. If I were to write a review for this book, which I won’t, I would mention stuff like:
– There’s no plot. The entire book is world-building and character-building and setup for book 2.
– In a book where thousands of humans are culled from all times/places and brought to a single location, there are ridiculously few non-white (three so far) and post-current-day (one so far). Also, of course the bad guys culled from history are going to be WWII nazis.
– The book needed some serious copyediting. There were lines like, “They were dirty and sweaty, their faces streaked with mud and dirt.”
If I’d picked this book off a library shelf and begun to read, I likely wouldn’t have finished it. The world-building was interesting and compelling, but eventually I would have needed more than that. And yet, I read the entire book – because Kate Reading is amazing.
Kate Reading kept me engaged even when the story didn’t. She helped me to connect with the characters and get past things that normally irritate me to no end in stories and in writing. Despite all my issues with the book, I never considered abandoning it, and I’ve even considered picking up the next in the series when it releases. If and only if Reading will be narrating again. To me, that shows the true power of a fantastic audio performer – to take a book and make it great, regardless of where the book lies on its own.