Friday 30 January 2015

Every Day by David Levithan - Narrated by Alex McKenna

I was hooked from the first minute. It was the combination of an intriguing premise and the pleasant sound of Alex McKenna’s voice. She has this low, husky tone with a gentle and musical accent, which was very easy and pleasant to follow. Sometimes people tell me the reason they wouldn’t be into audiobooks is because they would find it hard to follow, that their attention would wander. I thought so too, but I found that as long as the reader doesn’t go too fast (and that I like the voice, of course) that problem doesn’t occur. Needless to say, I never had that problem with Alex.
The story follows A as he/she tries to lead a normal life when everything about her/his/its (hir?) life isn’t. A changes bodies every day, never having owned their own (yeah, I’ll go with their, although I thought of A as 'she' while listening). I find this concept mindboggling. How does one define themselves without not just a body, but a life and an identity that never change. A family, a history that belongs to you. Without friends that know the real you, not the person you’re inhabiting. None of this is part of A’s life. A has to adjust to their body and life changing every day without having any control over it. It sounds like the stuff of nightmare, but A has decided, now at the age of 16, to accept it and go with the flow, to live in the present and not worry about it too much. Until A meets Rhiannon and falls in love with her.
 Now, I can’t tell much more without giving it away, but let me tell you it kept me hooked till the very end. It’s not a perfect book by any means, but I loved it all the same. It explores many issues: body image, identity, morality, sexuality, love. Especially love. We like to say that it’s what’s inside that matters. That the physical part is not as important as one’s personality, one’s “soul”. But do we really mean it? How much of our love or infatuation is based on appearances, on the physical aspect of it? I am not ashamed to say that for me the physical side is very important. I fall in love with the person as a whole, I love their personality and mind as much as their bodies. But with A you can only get one immutable aspect of the package. The rest is up to fate. Loving A would mean loving a ‘conscience’ but not a ‘person’, at least not in the way we’re used to. For this reason, and for many others (lack of lasting relationships, including the love of one’s family, for one) my heart ached for A. It still does, if I think about it. I read some reviews where people were outraged by A’s behaviour. They resented them the way they “used” their bodies, for their own purposes. I would agree with this view if A had any choice in the matter. If A had a body to return to and used their powers to do as they please, while hijacking other people’s lives, but that’s not the case. A has NO body, NO life of their own. What are they supposed to do, surrender to their fate and pretend to be someone else their whole life? Be completely selfless and devote their life to be as invisible and innocuous as possible? Just passing through, pretending they don’t exist? It seems cruel, to ask this of someone’s life. It’s easy to accuse but what would you do, especially if you fell in love? And remember, A is only 16.
 In any case, whether you'd love the book or not, it'd still be worth reading (or listening!), even if just to boggle your mind for a while.

Thursday 29 January 2015

The irresistible lure of audiobooks

I never would have thought I’d say this but I have totally fallen into the alluring and comforting arms of audiobooks. Not that I have ever had anything against audiobooks before. I just always thought they weren’t for me. I had tried one, years ago, and didn’t particularly like that experience, so I thought that had sorted the matter. But I had underestimated the love I had always had for listening to stories read aloud to me. I remember my Middle School English teacher reading to us from Momo by Michael Ende, and that was my favourite hour of the whole week. So I shouldn’t be surprised audiobooks would be such a pleasure. Obviously that very first attempt was a poor one. Either I didn’t like the narrator’s voice or I wasn’t too interested in the book. Anyway, last year I came across, completely by chance, a copy of The Order of the Phoenix read by Stephen Fry. I gave it a try and I was instantly hooked. I went on listening to 4 more Harry Potter books, but even after that I was still a little hesitant. “It’s Harry Potter” I told myself. “Easy to listen to. And Stephen Fry as well did an amazing job, it must be a fluke.” Still, I made a list of possible audiobooks for the future (as I do) and left it at that. Until recently, when I remembered how I love listening to stuff read to me and gave it another try.
Well, let me tell you, it was no fluke. I mean, there's so little effort involved. One can listen to audiobooks with eyes closed,  in the dark,  in the car (and not get car sick), while cycling or cooking.,,
  Although I must confess my favourite way of listening is while lying in bed, cuddled to my phone, listening to the invisible person with the soothing voice telling me goodnight stories.
Recently I have been introduced to the wonders of Audible and oh boy do I love it. You can listen to all the samples and decide whether you like that voice or not, you can a free one to start with, even if that one if like 60$ or something and after that 15$  a month for one seems very cheap compared to most audiobooks' prices. I have already placed 156 items on my wishlist (and then discovered that so many of these aren't available here - * sad face*) and I haven't even finished yet. 

All this to tell you that my first audiobooks review is coming up shortly :)