Audiobook Review: The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak 

9 03 2017

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

Read by Griffin Newman

Simon Audio

Grade: B

It seems Nostalgia is in and Jason Rekulak’s The Impossible Fortress has it in spades. Full of 80’s pop songs, movie and tv references, ancient computer archaeology and enough snarky omniscient humor about what is to come, The Impossible Fortress is a bittersweet, often silly coming of age tell that splendidly relives the 80’s for us so we don’t have to. As someone who lived the actual experience of being an unpopular, awkward teenager in the late 80’s this book should be perfect for me. The problem is that awkward teenage boys are incredibly annoying and Rekulak captures this perfectly because I was in a constant state of annoyance with these characters. It’s like I wanted to reach into my past and slap these boys in the face maybe with a few quick jabs at me as well. I escaped my awkward 80s childhood and really don’t want to go back. Each kid was unreasonably obnoxious. When simple solutions to their problems presented themselves they choose convoluted plans then chose even more convoluted plans to solve the problems that arose from their initial recklessness. Rekulak may have done his job too well. This may be a fun novel for people who observed peripherally the life of awkward, unpopular 14 year old boys in the 80’s but the reason God created whiskey was so I can beat the memories of those days into the deepest corner of my brain reserved for prepubescent unrequited crushes and Phil Collins songs. 

I have mixed feelings about Griffin Newman’s performance. Like the 14 year old main character, his pacing was awkward. He read like his voice was cracking and he wasn’t quite sure which word in a sentence was supposed to be emphasized. This was seemingly a stylistic choice which at times worked to fit the narrative but at other times took me out of the story. I appreciate what he was trying to do, and for the most part it was effective, especially as he began to feel more comfortable in the story. I give Newman credit, most narrators are unwilling to take the risks he did with this story and when it worked, it made the tale even better. But when it didn’t it just emphasized how annoying these boys were to me. I think Newman has a bright future as an actor and narrator even if I didn’t love everything about The Impossible Fortress. 

Audiobook Review: The Burning World (Warm Bodies Series) by Isaac Marion

8 03 2017

The Burning World by Isaac Marion

Read by Jacques Roy

Simon & Schuster Audio

Grade: B+

When Isaac Marion published Warm Bodies authors were just beginning to truly explore what they can do with the Zombie genre beyond the typical Romero style outbreak scenario. Warm Bodies was a game changing novel that threw out all the rules. Marion blended dark comedy with classic themes right out of Shakespeare and Austin to spin the genre into a whole new direction. Over 6 years later Marion picks up the story where he left off, in a genre saturated with classic examinations and new twists and continues the story of R and Julia. Yet, now Marion doesn’t try to flip the genre on its head but instead takes on the classic Post Apocalytic road trip and resistance story using that to examine  the priorities of humanness and community. Marions writing fluctuates seemlessky between crisp and breezy, and his dark humor takes center stage. Throughout the novel he pokes fun at his own book and the “Love will conquer all” theme. The story it self is clever and full of intriguing possibilities. His slow reveal on R’s past is effective but almost anticlimactic. The Burning World doesn’t break the zombie sub genre or ever pervert it all that much but Marion tells a damn good story that left me wanting more.

Part of me wanted not to like Jacques Roy because he wasn’t Kevin Kenerly but my old curmudgeonly ways were won over in the end. He was less stylistic than Kenerly but this suited Marion’s broader scope and more traditional storytelling. I loved Roy’s portrayal of the creepy antagonists. He had a strong grasp of the humor of the tale knowing when not to take it too seriously. His pacing was strong, particularly in the rapid fire dialogue that took place during the crew’s cross county adventure. The Burning World is simply a good apocalyptic tale told in a unique style with characters you’ve grown to love, performed well.