Inferno by Dan Brown – Audiobook Review

Inferno by Dan Brown, narrated by Paul Michael
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Doubleday Books, both imprints of Random House

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

Thoughts on the story:

A classic Dan Brown, and, I believe, vastly superior to The Lost Symbol. Inferno has a pretty good pace, although it somehow manages to feel less high-stakes that DaVinci Code and a truly improbably number of things happen over the course of the day. And, of course, because the protagonist is Robert Langdon we hear about his damn tweed coat and Mickey Mouse watch a ridiculous number of times, the watch even though Langdon LOSES IT before the first scene. Despite its obvious problems, I enjoyed Inferno more than Angels and Demons and The Lost Symbol. I think it was largely the literary and Italian Renaissance art themes that really made it for me. Although, I will note, that at least twice I figured out very obvious clues before our celebrated symbologist and art historian did, based on nothing more than what I remember from AP European history about 15 years ago. That was sort of ridiculous. And frustrating. No way these things should have puzzled Langdon, so I would be distracted by my frustration with him until he’d finally get it.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Audio is SO the way to go, here. Paul Michael is a new-to-me narrator and in another book I might not be blown away by his narration, but he totally worked for me to get inside Robert Langdon’s head. He seemed so much more like how I would have imagined Robert Langdon than Tom Hanks ever did. He was also surprisingly good at giving characters different voices, a skill I didn’t expect based on something in his voice. I think the main reason why this worked really well, though, is that Brown is more of a storyteller than a wordsmith. In audio I could mostly ignore the short chapters and the occasionally awkward or repetitive phrasing; I could just sit back and be washed into the story. And you know what? I ended up listening to the whole 17 hours of it in about 2 days, which for me is unprecedented, so yeah, the audio really worked here.

Overall:

Inferno would be a really great road trip audiobook this summer. Also recommended for yard work or the gym.

Learn more about this book at the publisher’s website.
Source: Review copy.

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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The Dog Stars by Peter Heller – Audiobook Review

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, narrated by Mark Deakins
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Knopf, both imprint of Random House

Synopsis:

In a world where nearly everyone he has ever known is dead from a terrible flu or the blood disease that followed it, Hig survives with his dog Jasper, his plane he has christened The Beast, and Bangley, his possibly crazy survivalist neighbor. Despite the fact that almost everyone he comes across wants to kill him for one reason or another – to take what he has, to eliminate him as a threat – Hig still retains much of who he was Before; he refuses to kill anyone unless absolutely necessary, and even takes supplies to a Mennonite family infected with the blood disease. In short, Hig still believes in humanity and has hope – however small – for the future. It is this hope that drives many of Hig’s actions, that force him to seek out what he believes might be another band of survivors, people that might even know something about the world beyond their small camp.

Thoughts on the story:

As ever with post-apocalyptic novels I really, really wanted more details on exactly what happened. A fever and a blood sickness, yes, but why? How? The Dog Stars, though, made me forget for large chunks of time that I didn’t know all the details, lost as I  became in Hig’s bitterly sad story. The Dog Stars has the best of all post-apocalyptic worlds, introducing elements both of survivalism and of the breakdown of human decency – and the places it can still be found, even in the most dire of circumstances. Heller’s prose brilliantly evokes life after Before, setting the scene not only with his words, but with the tone they carry.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Deakins is a new-to-me narrator and he did a wonderful job with The Dog Stars. The fever left Hig’s brain slightly compromised, and he certainly has psychological damage from the way he has had to live after Before. All of this leads to some unconventional thought processes. Heller represents these well in the text, but I was worried they wouldn’t entirely come through in audio, but Deakins interprets them very well. There are times where you almost wonder if there has been an editing error because a pause is so long or seemingly oddly placed, but as soon as Deakins begins speaking again you realize that this narration must, at times, be uncomfortable because our protagonist is himself deeply uncomfortable. All in all the narration works wonderfully to convey the tone of the book.

Overall:

Fans of post-apocalyptic fiction shouldn’t miss The Dog Stars. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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