Audiobook Review: The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

16 06 2011

The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

Read by Hillary Huber

Random House Audio

Genre: Thriller

Quick Thoughts: The Informationist is an intelligent, deliberately paced thriller, introducing a fascinating new character which is brought to life by an excellent performance by narrator Hillary Huber.

Grade: B+

If you haven’t heard, June is Audiobook Month, and part of my goal for this lovely month is to stretch beyond my barriers, listen to some things I normally wouldn’t and to check out new authors and new narrators. So, my latest audiobook listen fits nicely into my goals. The Informationist is the debut novel of author Taylor Stevens and the start of her Vanessa Michael Monroe series. It also works with another goal of mine, to experience more female authors. So far, the majority of the female authors I have listened to have been science fiction, horror or supernatural writers, so recently I was looking for a good thriller, written by a women, and discovered The Informationist. I have always enjoyed thrillers, yet I have also found the genre label to be ill-defined. What constitutes a Thriller, is tons of action needed, or just a tense life threatening situation? Often time a book is called a thriller based solely on the fact that the author has written thrillers before. When it comes to thrillers, I have always been more of a set up guy. Typically our heroes are investigating something, gets into a few squabbles, figures out what is going on, then runs around, outfoxing the bad guy in order to shoot him. I was always down with the figuring out more so then the bullet filled denouement.

The Informationist is exactly the type of thriller I enjoy. While our hero, Vanessa Michael Monroe, is quite physically capable, she tends to think her way out of her problems more so then shoot and punch. Monroe uses her understanding of language and cultural traditions to better effect then some action hero types use their fists. The Informationist is definitely not a run and gun thriller, but a deliberately paced tale of corruption and betrayal, which takes you from the penthouses of Houston, to the dirt roads of Africa. As Monroe searches for the lost step-daughter of an oil magnate, she also is taking a trip through her brutal past. Author Taylor Stevens has developed a fascinating yet tragic hero, highly capable, yet burdened by a justifiable mistrust of others. The plot is highly textured, with each step of the search hampered by both enemies and friends, and placing Monroe in positions that are impossible to think her way out of. This is when the action comes, and when it does, it is swift and brutal. Stevens doesn’t toy with the reader, creating overly elaborate action scenes, instead she has her protagonist move like a viper, striking quick and hard with efficiency. All this leads to a well orchestrated ending, allowing Monroe to do what she does best, outthink her opponents.

Another benefit of The Informationist is the chance to listen to well respected narrator Hillary Huber for the first time. Huber reads The Informationist with breathy slow tone that works like a trap, it lulls you in, makes you feel comfortable then ensnares you into the story. This pacing fit perfectly with the tale, building tension until both narrator and protagonist lash out. Huber truly brings Monroe to life for the listener, giving her the world wary tone you would expect from such a character, yet she also handles the international cast of secondary characters well. There is a plethora of accents in this tale, and Huber gives them all an authentic tone and realistic feel. If you are looking for a thriller full of explosions, gun battles, car chases, and one dimensional characters, perhaps The Informationist isn’t for you. Yet, if you are in search of an intelligent, deliberately paced thriller full of well envisioned characters, I urge you to give The Informationist a try.

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2 responses

16 06 2011
Lena

Sounds like an intriguing read, with a great heroine. I love it when the heroine is smart and witty, as oppose to using looks or guns to get things done. Nice review.

18 06 2011
phillygal

I read and enjoyed this one also. Nice review!

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