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Bad News First
Superb story conflicted with not-so-great narrating: characters were not made as lively as they could've, jokes didn't hit as well they should've, many a tender scene was made awkward by monotonous, almost forcibly hushed tone, inappropriate inflections disrupt a truly captivating buildup.
As far as the story itself, the line between historical context and fiction is very efficiently maneuvered. Interesting, well-developed characters endear themselves to the reader as events unfold throughout the story. Events do not simply happen around the characters; the reader is made aware very early on that no one is invincible in this world and that the reign in the character's country is no exception. This gives the reader hope: anything can happen. This also makes the reader consider the fate of every character: anything can happen.
As with any story, there are flaws to be found. This particular story possesses very few.
The reader is left with many questions at the end of the story; many of which can be answered with a great deal of speculation but are ultimately still just speculation.
Narration strengths would include the distinguishing of voices of various characters (which makes it much easier to follow conversations between multiple characters) and an unhurried pace that compliments many image-heavy scenes, allowing the listener to soak in every detail and even add to the scene themselves, in their mind's eye.
In summation: Ms. Alvarez created a beautiful story about war, the avoidance of such, and the key players involved in any conflict, all from the perspective of a child growing into a young woman.
However, this particular medium (audiobook) of communication of aforementioned beautiful story leaves much to be desired and/or imagined, in this case, at least.
Many thanks to anyone who took the time to read this lengthy backhanded compliment.
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