Audiobook Review: Immobility by Brian Evenson

6 04 2012

Immobility by Brian Evenson

Read by Mauro Hantman

AudioGo

Length: 6 Hrs 32 Min

Genre: Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic

Quick Thoughts: For fans of Post Apocalyptic fiction, Immobility is a different take of some familiar situations. Evenson offers some brilliant visuals, compelling dilemmas and a gut punch ending, just don’t expect to go away completely satisfied.

Grade: B

I’m not quite sure why we find amnesia stories so compelling. It’s one of the most overuse subplots in television today, and I find myself rolling my eyes whenever it’s used. Yet, for some reason I forget to turn the channel.  I think the lore of the amnesiac is the ultimate Fantasy dream of starting over. Often the victim of amnesia remembers their skills and basic world knowledge, but forgets who they are. They can now start fresh. Movies like Regarding Henry and books like Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook show us that we not only can escape the burdens of memories, but change the person we are, perhaps becoming a better version of ourselves.  Yet, amnesia subplots often add an extra layer of mystery. Not only are we figuring out what is happening, solving a crime or preventing a tragedy, but we are discovering who this person is and how they lost their memory. Is it a sinister plot, or just some accidental fateful moment that led our hero to their current state? This is one of the reasons I was instantly interested in Brian Evenson’s Immobility. The underlining mystery of a victim of amnesia with the added stressed of an Apocalyptic landscape, what’s not to love?

Josef Horkai is woken after 30 years in storage with no memories beyond hazy images of an apocalyptic catastrophe. He is greeted by a man named Rasmus claiming to be his friend, and is informed that he has a rare condition that has left his paralyzed.  Rasmus explains that his disease gives him one advantage, he is able to survive out in the war ravaged, radioactive wasteland that is lethal to most unprotected humans. Rasmus gives Horkai a mission to recover an item stolen from their community, an item that could help ensure their survival. Brian Evenson has created on of the most brutal, devastating post apocalyptic landscapes I have read. The land is toxic to the few survivors who have managed to find shelter from looming death. The land is utterly barren, and as Josef travels this wasteland, with the assistance of two human "mules" there is little cause for hope. Even more tenuous is Horkai’s grip of reality. All he knows he has been told by Rasmus, and while he feels that something is off, he can’t figure out an alternate course. This is really the highlight of Immobility. The dreamy visuals serve as the perfect backdrop for Horkai’s uncertainty. Horkai is the reluctant unreliable narrator. He wants to know the truth, wants to share it with the reader, but is just incapable. Each survivor Horkai meets along the way only adds to his conundrum. Each situation convinces him that Rasmus’ intentions are not as benevolent as they seem, yet circumstances push him towards completing his mission. While I loved dilemmas Horkai faces, I feel Evenson missed some opportunities to push it further. The ending is devastating and brilliantly answers some questions, but leaves the essence of the main character up in the air. For fans of Post Apocalyptic fiction, Immobility is a different take of some familiar situations. Evenson offers some brilliant visuals, compelling dilemmas and a gut punch ending, just don’t expect to go away completely satisfied.

It’s hard to really evaluate Mauro Hantman as a narrator based on this audiobook. This is my first time listening to an audiobook narrated by Hantman, and found his performance satisfactory if not particularly noteworthy. This isn’t the fault of Hantman. The text itself offers very little challenge to a narrator. There are very few characters in this novel, and they are all male. The prose had a dreamy quality to it which required the narrator to read it in a slow steady, almost airy pace. Hantman did some interesting things with Qanik and Qatik, the two human mules that assist Horkai, giving them an almost robotic, pliant tone that fit the nature quite well. Hantman’s reading was clean and clear, and while it didn’t add to much to the experience, it didn’t detract from it either. Hantman is definitely a narrator with potential, and I look forward to hearing him take on some novels that are a bit more of a challenge. Overall, his tone fit the story right, and truly, what more can you ask for in a narrator.

Note: Thanks to the good people of AudioGo for providing me with a copy of this title for Review. Immobility is scheduled for release on April 10th.

This review is part of my “Welcome to the Apocalypse” weekly feature.

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2 responses

8 04 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

The whole ‘waking after 30 years in storage’ seems interesting.

3 08 2014
Release Week: The Greyfriar, Welcome to Bordertown, Infinite Jest, "Enter, Night", Immobility, Unholy Night, Grail, the Honorverse, and more | The AudioBookaneers

[…] his literary eye to a post-apocalyptic earth in this dazzling science fiction novel.” — reviewed by The Guilded […]

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