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At first, I found the author's voice a bit distracting, but over time, I came to enjoy her voice, especially when she was doing dead pan irony. What became painful as the book progressed were the celeb readings of a sentence to a paragraph. There would be a lead up to a quote, a lengthy pause and then a quote read by a celeb. Sometimes the pause seemed to go on and on with a tiny section (7 words or so) read by the celeb. These became so distracting, and were often times difficult to hear due to difference in volume, that I just tuned them out. The use of celebs to read quotes seemed to be too gimmicky.
All in all, I enjoyed the book and the author's voice. I have stopped listening to a small number of books because of painful narration. The negative reviews seem too harsh especially the ones that complain of "America is always the bad guy." Looking back at this period through modern perspective makes it hard to justify our prior actions. One just needs to accept the difference in perspectives and move on.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
From the arrival of Captain Cook, to the missionaries, to the businessmen and politicians who orchestrate the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, Vowell's book is a fascinating and upsetting in-depth look at the Americanization (and eventual annexation) of Hawaii. This is not your typical tourist fare.
I knew what to expect from Vowell's reading, and don't have any issues with her voice (if you're not familiar with Vowell, definitely check out the sample to see if it'll be too much for you).
The supporting cast is generally fine, but Keanu Reeves is shocking great as David Malo. I think I could listen to him read Malo's Hawaiian Antiquities and be content.
Definitely worth checking out if you're at all interested in the history of Hawaii.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Unfamiliar Fishes in three words, what would they be?
Foreigners claim land.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Unfamiliar Fishes?
The fact the book isn't about one set group.
Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favourite?
Sarah Vowell talking about herself.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Definitely laugh, Vowell's writing is smart and not obfuscated with long needless details.
Any additional comments?
At the time of this review The Wordy Shipmates isn't on Audible UK, this is more like that book than the other Sarah Vowell books.
Would you try another book written by Sarah Vowell or narrated by the narrators?
I'd previously enjoyed The Partly Cloudy Patriot, and so had been looking forward to this one. It didn't engage me as much as my first Vowell audiobook, but I love her writing style and sense of humour, so will be listening to more.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
The history of Hawaii is told in an engaging way that makes you wonder what life on the islands was like before the settlers from Britain and America came to dominate.
Did the narration match the pace of the story?
Absoutely. Sarah Vowell's delivery can start off sounding like a robotic monotone at first, but once your brain falls in step with the pace and rhythm of her voice, you realise it matches her disarming brand of self deprecation and sarcastic charm completely.
Did Unfamiliar Fishes inspire you to do anything?
One day, I'll visit Hawaii for myself. One day.