Audio Book Review: The Reader by Traci Chee, Narrated by Kim Mai Guest

Book: The Reader by Traci Chee, Narrated By Kim Mai Guest

Published September 2016 by Listening Library|12 hours 31 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Sea Of Ink And Gold #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

A stunning debut set in a world where reading is unheard-of, perfect for fans of Inkheart and Shadow and Bone

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, The Reader is a brilliantly told adventure from an extraordinary new talent.

I’m honestly not sure what to think of The Reader.  Here’s the thing with this book- I tried reading it ages ago, found it didn’t work in print, so I switched to the audio book, thinking that would work better.  I ended up finishing the audio recently, only to find that I wasn’t paying attention to it, and that it pretty much faded into the background.

That’s not what you want with an audio book, especially because I couldn’t even begin to tell you what had happened.  Instead of listening to it again (for fear the same thing would happen), I decided to borrow it from the library when I happened to be wandering around in the YA section and saw it sitting on the shelf.

It turned out to be okay for me.  I didn’t particularly care for the stories of the pirates and assassins- especially the assassins.  It made things more muddled and confusing, and it didn’t feel personal.  At least the assassins related to the story.  As for the pirates, I liked that they were clearly stories, and I found that when I went to it in print, it was clearly distinguished from the rest of the book.

That part was nice, but I vaguely remember that it wasn’t clear when you switched perspectives in the audio book.

The story itself was interesting, and I really liked the idea.  It was hard to believe that Sefia was able to figure out how to read, especially in a society that’s illiterate.  Especially since they seemed to be advanced in other ways.  Do they have some sort of record-keeping system?  That’s what I want to know, but I don’t know if I’m interested enough to keep reading to find out.

One that I also didn’t like was how some people were referred to- The Arbitrator, the Assassin, the Second.  It didn’t work for me, and it made me not care.  I felt distanced from what was going on, even there were other characters, like Sefia and Archer involved.  It tended to happen in the assassin chapters, but you saw it at other times too.

Everything did come together in the end, but by then, I didn’t particularly care about what was going on.

I will say that I did like Kim Mai Guest’s narration.  While I ended up re-reading it because I wasn’t paying attention, I did like her as the narrator, and me not paying attention is nothing against her at all.  She’s good at what she does, at least in the couple of books I’ve listened to that she’s narrated.

2 stars.  The story was okay, and I had a hard time paying attention to the story.  Chee’s writing was lovely, but I had a hard time getting into the story.

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