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I’m not going to lie: the cover art really drew me in with this one and the synopsis sounded incredible: an explosion on a train, a sole survivor who can’t remember the day of the bombing and is now, one-year later, still searching for answers? The suspense was killing me before I even listened to the audio sample. When I saw (and subsequently heard) the narrators, I knew there was no going back--I love duel narrations and I’ve heard incredible things about Joe Hempel.
Life After: A Novel is an incredible book that tells a story of resilience and explores themes of grief, survivors’ guilt, and healing as the main character, Autumn Manning, struggles to move on following an explosion on a commuter train that left twenty-two others dead. As the sole survivor, Autumn is riddled with guilt and questions and cannot rest until she finds answers--and I don’t mean that as hyperbole. Autumn finds herself pacing graveyards at night as she battles insomnia and wonders why she lived while others perished. She has difficulty returning to work and faces an enormous desire to identify some purpose or meaning for her life, some reason why her life was spared while so many others were lost. Autumn’s search for answers brings her closer to the families of the victims, especially Paul and Reese Elliott, who each play significant roles in the development of this story and the protagonist's desire for closure.
The characterization in this novel is phenomenal, with well-developed characters who have depth and personality. Each character has their own sense of humor, fears, and hopes for the future, almost coming to life through the joint efforts of a talented author and narrators. The dual narration was well-utilized in this piece and adds even more dimension to the story, as both Joe Hempel and Stacey Glemboski lend their voices to the characters, infusing this audiobook with a more profound sense of the wide range of emotions each character endured on their journey.
When I began listening to this book, I was expecting a suspenseful novel and anticipated following along as the survivor, families of the victims, and members of law enforcement sought information, identified and apprehended a suspect or group of suspects, and brought those responsible to justice. Instead, I found an honest, poignant, portrayal of grief in the aftermath of tragedy and an exploration of the emotional and spiritual journey towards healing. Told from a variety of perspectives, including that of a survivor and those of a bereaved husband and daughter, this story demonstrates the far-reaching physical and psychological impacts of trauma and emphasizes the wide spectrum of emotions associated with loss, encompassing episodes of denial, anger, sadness, and acceptance.
Though this book was not what I had initially expected, it did not disappoint. It was a well-rounded story that was at times raw, humorous, and thought-provoking, told by two immensely talented narrators.
I was voluntarily provided with a free copy of this book. It has not affected my review in any way. If you enjoyed this review, please vote for it! Every vote helps.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Generally I'm not a fan of dual narration, but i am a fan of Stacey Glemboski, and the blurb for this book pulled me in, so I gave it a go. I am so glad I did, everything about this book was excellent!
The narration was beautifully done, Stacey and Joe worked really well together and the result is a narration that is seamless to listen to. They did a great job of matching up the character voices enough so that it was easy to tell who easy speaking. I actually forgot that I was listening to two different narrators and yet had all the benefits of listening to two very talented voice artists.
The story was just as good, it took barely any time for the story to capture my attention and my emotions. I'm a bit lost for words and I'm having a tough time figuring out how to convey just how much I loved this book. The writing is beautifully done and the story somehow manages to be both simple and complex. The leading characters are very compelling and I couldn't help but want everything to work out for them.
Highly emotive, this is a book that will capture your heart and refuse to let go.
I received a free copy of this book from the author and/or narrator and/or publisher and I voluntarily wrote this honest review.
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3 of 3 people found this review helpful