Friday, February 27, 2015

Audio Book Review: A Love for the Pages

To continue with my full disclosure policy on this blog, a friend of mine was the narrator for this audio book and gave me a review copy on audible in exchange for a review. I plan on making a full page for how to contact me for review requests (especially with all of the webcomic requests I'm getting these days from people who have clearly never looked at this blog before in their lives....) but I am open to stuff like this. On that note, I am going to refrain from really talking about my friend's voice since I'm sure if she wants any personal critique she will ask, I'll just say that I like the sound of her voice and didn't find it grating which is one very important thing when you're about to listen to them for six hours!

A Love for the Pages by Joy Penny

June has never gotten along with her step-father as well as her mother had hoped but the real reason she doesn't want to work at his company this summer is because she's discovered how much she hates business and ha no head for it after a year studying in college. She's not over the moon about taking her friend's volunteer, page position at a local library but it does make for a good excuse. She's embarrassed to find that her old crush, still in high school, is also volunteering at the library but much more distracting is one of the library's benefactors whom she's made quite the first impression on.

To start this review, I'm not fond of books which are strictly romances and this story is completely a romance*. That's it's focus both in the physical world (by choosing what events to show) and in June's mind, nearly all of her thoughts have to do with Rockford and those that don't revolve around a subplot with her old friends which is resolved rather awkwardly. There is no progression in June's relationship with anyone else, from family to coworkers, and that felt strange, I'm very curious to know what books Joy Penny has written under her real name in YA. I was surprised to see that on her Amazon bio since this book feels like a self-published/Amazon original work. Some editing would make the book stronger but the plot itself isn't that engaging, it tries to throw in twists instead of realistic conflicts and the characters feel flat as well. Rockford gets the brunt of the strange twists, I think Penny was trying too hard to emulate the dark, creepy reveals you have in books by the Bronte sisters but yet she didn't want the overall tone to be gothic so she pulls back. There are some very strange twists which are half hand-waved away a chapter or two later as "that person is crazy and was lying to you" and half not, as if the characters couldn't even be bothered to properly explain what had happened and hoped that the readers would forget. I also thought it was a bad choice to try and make him emulate so many Bronte and Austen characters, they aren't exactly paradigms of good, romantic leads or realistic characters.

June feels like a slightly more realistic character than Rockford but she's also oddly boring. Penny tries to mimic the awkward dialogue that you find in real life but most of the time June's spoken words and thoughts are an odd combination of stilted and overly quippy, she also narrates to herself a tad too much. I feel that I would have enjoyed this story better if there had been more focus on other parts of June's life outside of the library, especially since for an audio book that was only six hours this seemed to drag on. Good Omens was about four hours long and felt much too short, Neverwhere was also between 4-6 hours and felt perfectly done (admittedly these were a bit different from regular audiobooks), A Strange Maid (which I listened to recently) had a much more complicated story and was 12 hours long, and Shadows on the Moon was also about 11 hours long, I'm used to listening to long books! There simply wasn't enough of a story to fill six hours and if I hadn't already agreed to review this book I would have turned off the file and simply listened to something else instead.

*I actually said something really good about romance recently but it appears that OASG hasn't published it yet, darnit Justin, might just steal it to use in a similar review in oh two weeks.

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