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I am wrestling with myself (not alligators) about how I feel after listening to this book. This book is listed in Stephen King's top ten books you MUST read so I took his advice. I had also read a rave review from Carl Hiaasen, my expectations were quite high. And yes, I do love the premise of this story.
Ms. Russell does a beautiful job of inviting us into the swamp, we feel the heat, see the waterways, smell the wild orchids. She makes the run down theme park Swamplandia! come alive and that entertains. Throughout Ms. Russell produces beautiful prose that makes this book special.
However, I just can't join in the praise for the Bigtree tribe. Mother Hilola (think Esther Williams swimming with gators) is the star performer , Father the Chief runs the show, son Kiwi and daughters Osceola and Ava (the main character, an alligator wrestler in training) are home schooled kids who's stories drive the plot.
In the first few chapters tragedy strikes, the old theme park looses it's star performer Hilola. The children each react in their own way, and from that point on nothing goes right in the world at Swamplandia!
Although there are so many things I loved about this book, I think the narrator Arielle Sitrick does this book a terrible disservice. Her tween voice would be fine if she had read this book with even a little passion and feeling. Her narration was flat and failed miserably. Even in the most interesting parts, this narrator made me too often not care what happened next. I can usually overlook a sub-par narrator, but this time, I was so confused, I kept trying to figure out if it was truly the narrator, the prose or me. I think narrator
There were moments I couldn't put the book down, and moments I wanted to just walk away from this book.
I also felt that Kiwi' s part of the story was weak, perhaps if this part had been stronger and more engaging maybe the bad narration (female reader) could have been mitigated.
Maybe reading this book in text is a better bet.
54 of 56 people found this review helpful
I'm halfway through the book and it is ok. Not great, not terrible - ok. However, the reader's constant mispronunciation of simple words is very distracting. Gherkin = jerkin to our reader and bromeliad = bro-mi-lad. And possibly the worst of this list, the book is set in Florida so I would hope the reader would at least be able to get the pronunciation of Florida cities correct. Nope. Ocala = Oh-cah-la. Ugh. This is very disappointing and very distracting.
Her pace and tone are fine. She is young, but this is a 13 year old girl's story so I'm ok with that.
I would assume these audiobooks are edited prior to publication. Shame on the editor. Sounds like someone took a nap when they should have been listening.
32 of 34 people found this review helpful