Three audiobooks

My problem with audiobooks is that I can’t (actually, don’t) take note of passages that I like, so reviews seem rather flimsy. Anyhoo, some thoughts on three books I’ve listened to recently.

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

I picked this book because Abbott is on a panel I’m going to at the Melbourne Writers Festival. My poor opinion of the book won’t influence my enjoyment of the Festival session – I respect Abbott’s writing – it’s consistent, tight and no doubt thrilling for a particular audience (I’m simply not that audience).

Dare Me is a cheerleader story – think Heathers meets Tom Perrotta meets Nancy Kerrigan / Tonya Harding.

These girls are all boxed wine and havoc.

The girls are vicious (certainly a case of ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’); their coach is stupidly unethical and obviously disturbed; and when the pom-poms hit the fan, it took the story to a level of crazy that stretched belief. But that’s okay, because I think that’s what Abbott does and her fans love it.

Personally, I couldn’t help but put my ‘parent’ hat on (see, told you I was the wrong audience) and as hordes of cheerleaders were leaving their houses in the middle of the night, taking 3am phone calls, smoking like chimneys, going to bars and purging every meal they ate, I was thinking WHERE ARE THE PARENTS?!

2/5 Sorry to be a party-pooper but ugh.

Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Haig’s memoir about his battle with depression and anxiety is exceptionally good – it’s highly ‘readable’ and not at all grim, as you might expect.

Haig doesn’t dress up depression to make his reader feel better, nor does he make light of it – instead, he writes about how it ‘feels’ in a way that I think everybody can relate to, regardless of whether they suffer from depression, know someone who does or even have no experience whatsoever.

There were so any gems in this book (“No one sorts their life out at 3am“) that I wish I’d stopped to write them down but, at about the halfway point, I decided I’d buy a copy to have on my shelf. The key message though is simple – show love to those suffering from depression.

4/5 Extremely interesting.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

I saw the movie version of Brooklyn a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. I didn’t rush to read the book before I went to see the movie because I’d just finished Nora Webster and I was a bit Irish-misery-porned-out.

The story covers themes of duty, homesickness, and first love, through young Eilis Lacey, as she moves from her family home in rural Ireland to Brooklyn, America.

It’s a gentle story, not trying to do more than it should (unlike Nora Webster which I felt promised more emotional depth than it delivered). From memory, the movie is a little more sympathetic to Eilis and her quandary – in the book there are a few too many moments where she is either dithering or in denial. But I cried, which says a lot for an audiobook.

3/5 Enjoyable.

8 responses

  1. I generally won’t review an audio book unless I can get hold of a paper copy as well. In fact my next (I hope) review is sitting three quarters written off the audio version while I wait for the library to come up with a copy of the book. Even names are a problem unless you can see them written down. As for Dare Me, it’s not one I’ve listened to, but I’ve had 15 yo daughters, I just hope I would have had a chance to discuss it with them. For a long time I banned violent movies but in the end the kids saw them anyway. They were pretty clear about my feelings about killing people for entertainment but!

    • Most of the audiobooks I ‘read’, I also have as a hard copy, so I can toggle between listening and reading – these three were an exception. To be honest, I don’t listen as closely as I would read if I only had the book, hence why I often choose lighter things for audio.

      I’m not sure who’s Abbott’s target audience – the books seem way too dark for YA but perhaps I’m out of touch. There was one scene in Dare Me (where a girl implies date-rape) that I had trouble with – it’s certainly something you’d want to discuss if your daughter was reading it.

  2. I hear consistently good things about the Matt Haig, it sounds like he’s done a great job making a difficult subject understandable. I’m not a big non-fiction reader because my fiction TBR is ridiculous, but I’ll look out for this.

    • I don’t read much non-fiction either but I am a sucker for a memoirs. The emphasis in this one is on Haig’s personal journey but he has a lot of basic, practical stuff that helped him that I think has broad application. His descriptions of how it feels to be depressed and/or anxious were particularly good.

  3. I loved Brooklyn, both book and film which I hadn’t expected to like. Saoirse Ronan can convey more with a twitch of the lips or the lift of an eyebrow than many actors twice her age can with a whole barrage of facial expressions. Who was the reader for the audiobook?

  4. I love me some Megan Abbott, but did not like Dare Me 🙁 My one miss of hers. Loved The Fever and You Will Know Me.

    • The only other one I’ve read is The End of Everything which I enjoyed more than this one. Not sure if I’ll rush into more but if either of the ones you’ve mentioned pop up in the audiobooks at my library I’ll give them a go.

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