Monday, 23 February 2015

Audio book review The Maze Runner Written by: James Dashner Narrated by: Mark Deakins

Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins The story starts dramatically, in the dark a small enclosed space that is rattling and has no fresh air. The reader is trapped alongside a teenager, Thomas who finds himself struggling to understand what’s happening to him and with no memory about his life other than his name. Terrified by the darkness and strangeness of his soundings he has no time to normalise before it abruptly stops. Thomas is greeted by a group of boys who refer to him as the newbie. He has to adjust quickly and the reader is equally intrigued and bewildered as to this new place he finds himself called the glade. Here the boys have tried to make this place their own, adapting what they have and even inventing their own slag words for things such as clunk. The glade is exclusively a young boy’s zone, but this is no peter pan story and the glade is no neverland. It is well organised highly structured place operated by a high-ranking system of boys called keepers. Every boy is assigned a task. Thomas soon realises that glade is only a small part of his new world. There is a maze outside the glade, which boys called runners map and try to find a way out. Thomas knows instantly that’s he wants to be a runner. Easy you think to find a way out in the end? But knows as the maze moves position each night when it is full of marauding evil steampunk monsters, Grievers, the like I could never of imagined. Thomas character develops quickly and he gets to interact and try and understand the other boys in this forced community. He especially likes a boy called Chuck and their friendship is an odd one. Thomas is more like a big brother than a friend to him. Just a Thomas is settling into his new surroundings a girl, Teresa comes up in the lift like box and this triggers the end of any stability he had found for himself. He also feels that he and girl have a connection and later he develops a way were he can communicate with his thoughts. Dashner should be congratulated for The Maze Runner story as here he has invented a brand new world were the environment is controlled by outside forces. Even the sky can change and sun vanish. The boys question their surroundings and try and find answers, but human nature dictates that they make the most of what they have. I especially like the description of the monsters, you learn everything about them, and they are machine and organic. They can fire spines that are as sharp as needles which contain some toxic that causes a changing. Dashner explains in painful detail how the boys suffer when they have been attacked and the fear they sense waiting. The story is full of puzzles and just when you think you know what’s happening a new twists occurs. Mark Deakins narration is remarkable. He makes totally different voices for each of the boys and a higher voice for Teresa. His style is easy to listen to, he adds emphasis to the characters when they’re scared or angry. Brilliant.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Audio review of Baba Yaga's Daughter and Other Stories of the Old Races

Written by: C. E. Murphy Narrated by: Anna Parker-Naples Length: 8 hrs and 42 mins Unabridged Audiobook This is an enchanted tale that has been skilfully brought to life by Anna’s colourful narration. The plot is not straight forward at all but several stories spun together in a delightful mix. Many parts to the story stretch over different continents and many generations. In it Murphy writes of truths, half-truths, folklore and legions. I liked how she wrote the female characters with strong leads and they were both brave and fearful. Not meek or in any way subservient, which is often the case in some old fashioned tales. The two main male characters, the dragonlord Janx and the dashing vampire Eliseo Daisani are both powerful in their own rights and make an uneasy friendship. However both of them are never without a woman in their lives to complete or complicate them. Being a child still at heart, I loved the witches best, Baba Yaga, and her chicken leg hut that could not cross running water and the daughter who had no name. Anna gave Russian inflections to their lines as she read them, and made them seam formidable pair, I certainly would not like to meet Baba Yaga in the dark. Anna wide range of voices forced me to stop listening at one point and to check there was indeed only one narrator. How she jumped from a Russian voice to an American in the same paragraph was mesmerising. Along with vampires, there is an interesting an skilfully written female vampire hunter. I felt a bit like I was exploring a secret world. I was transfixed by the dragons who could take on the form of humans alongside tales of gargoyles and silkies. Not only were all the magical creatures in this story beautifully written, but also humans characters, who’s lives became intertwined with the old races intriguing and fairy like way. There were interesting settings, old fashioned speakeasy’s to modern day settings. This is an enchanted tale, but I am glad I listened to it rather than reading it as its dripped though with long and tasty descriptions, and having them read out to you gives you more of a chance to absorb and admire them. This is the first time I have come across Murphy’s writing and I would really look forward to reading/listening to some more of her fantastic written work. A magical listen, Anna has a skilful reading of the wonderful characters was both relaxing and hugely enjoyable. I am looking forward to listening to other Audiobook’s that Anna has narrated. Especially looking forward to her upcoming reading of the Audiobook, ‘Garden.’