One of the books in my Fall Preview post was Steven Brust and Skyler White's The Incrementalists. The idea of a secret society of people who've been "meddling" in history throughout time, in an attempt to improve outcomes, appealed to me. I also liked the idea that Incrementalists' minds and memories persisted for thousands of years by "stubbing" them into a new recruit's mind (via a flaming spike!) when an old physical body was ready to be retired.
It turned out the story wasn't nearly as fun as I'd expected, because instead of stories about meddling successes and bloopers throughout history, the book focused on the whole Celeste thing and the Incrementalists' counter-thrusts. That might have worked if Phil, Ren and the other Incrementalists had been interesting, but dead Celeste was the liveliest in a flat and shallow cast of characters.
But worst of all was the train wreck of an audio production. The guy reading Phil's part uses an aggressive, ticked-off tone that didn't seem at all like what the book's text was aiming for, and made it very hard to understand why Ren's character would fall for him. The woman reading Ren's part was even worse. She's supposed to be a strong character––and needs to be to keep Celeste at bay––but she has an insubstantial, almost Valley Girl voice.
The two readers use different accents when they read side characters, too. Is Oskar Russian, or at least Russian-ish? According to the male reader, yes; according to the female, no. But she makes up for it by giving Jimmy a French(-ish) accent that the male reader leaves out. And don't get me started on the various mispronunciations of words, including both readers consistently pronouncing Ramon's name "Raymond."
|Foyle's War: Honeysuckle Weeks as Sam Stewart|
and Daniel Weyman as Adam Wainwright
On balance, the rewards I've had with audiobooks outweigh the risks. I think I just need to do a better job of spotting bad narration before clicking that "buy" button. If anybody out there listens to a lot of audiobooks and has some recommendations, please post a comment. My Audible cart is currently empty!